With Sony's game-changing announcement of the smaller, cheaper Slim PS3 last week at Gamescom, will rival Microsoft follow suit?
When the Slim PS3 finally hits shelves next month after months and months of rumors, there's no doubt that it'll shake things up. Thanks to a slightly uncomfortable price point, the PS3 has lagged behind in this generation of the console wars, but now the $299 Slim redesign handily eliminates that problem.
So, what's Microsoft to do? Rumors have been flying for almost as long as the ones about the PS3 Slim, saying that MS will be phasing out the Xbox 360 Pro and lowering the price on the 360 Elite to match the shiny new PS3. But that's kind of boring, don't you think? After all, we're very familiar with the 360 Elite, whereas the PS3 Slim is nifty and new.
That was the question that IndustryGamers posed to analysts: Will Microsoft meet Sony head on with a redesigned Xbox 360?
The answers were fairly mixed. On the one hand, the ubiquitous Michael Pachter pointed out that Microsoft had already "had a redesign to eliminate the RROD issue, changed the heat sink, fan and a couple of other components," so a complete redesign was unlikely. Echoing those sentiments was Colin Sebastian, who noted that Microsoft had been periodically redesigning the 360 internally with different chipsets to correct the astronomical failure rate, and yet hadn't done any external redesigns to reflect internal changes.
On the other, EEDAR's Jesse Divnich made the point that a smaller, lighter console had other benefits beyond extra sales - for one, it'd reduce shipping costs, and it feels... well, it feels newer. "(A) new Xbox 360 unit that is smaller and promises higher reliability certainly makes for a good advertising campaign." DFC Intelligence's David Cole concurred, saying that "I think it is a question of when not if."
On a third hand, some of the analysts, like Arvind Bhatia from Sterne Agee, thought Natal would have the same effect: "I think Natal will be killer app that will help keep the momentum for the 360 next year. I do think they need to cut the price by at least $50."
Either way, it's clear that Microsoft has to do something, or else they run a very real risk of losing ground to Sony's new, Slim juggernaut.