If you are still thinking that Sony will definitely remain dominant in the console market when they release the PS3, then you probably haven't been reading the news lately. Beset by delays due to their insistence that the PS3 have Blueray and further hampered by announces of higher than expected prices for the next gen console, Sony has not been getting a lot of good press for their upcoming system of late.
Instead, Microsoft has been surfing a wave of generally positive news regarding their nearly year old Xbox 360.
Their latest big idea is, at least in my mind, a whopper. They are going to offer a fairly inexpensive developer's kit, called the XNA Game Studio Express, that will allow essentially anyone to create games for the 360.
It's a bit too early to call this move genius, but it may well prove to be a big factor if Microsoft ends up winning this round of the console wars.
Why? Games sell consoles, not the other way around. The more good and varied games you have for a console, the more it is likely to pull in newer customers, which then sells games, which then sells more consoles, ad infinitum.
When it gets down to it, the large mass of game consumers could really care less which system has the best specs, which one uses DVDs or cartridges or plugs directly into the brain...We care about games.
What system has the coolest games?
Who is making the games that my friends are playing?
Which company is really better at supporting their consoles when it comes to getting developers to create new games?
At the moment, at least from what I read in the press, the answer to all these questions is undoubtedly Microsoft.
Now perhaps this move will fill the games market with a lot more third rate games, but I'm betting instead that you will start to see a lot more of the smaller, yet crazily fun games like Geometry Wars as a result of this move, which could definitely spell success for Microsoft.
Keep in mind that at the moment this newly announced "amateur" developer's kit cannot be used for commercially sold games, which will hopefully change, even if they limit the price you can charge for a game created with this kit to $5 or something.
In any event, I think this is a very good move by Microsoft in an attempt to get more developers out there creating games for the 360.
While I haven't yet gotten one (for mainly financial reasons plus I'm waiting for Forza Racing 2 to be released) the 360 is the only console that I'm truly interested in purchasing at the moment. While the Wii sounds interesting in concept, I just don't see enough developer interest behind it to make it worth $250 and the PS3 is too darn expensive.
Besides, I have a firm "1 year rule" where I won't buy a console unless it's been out for a year and is proven in the marketplace...and there's only one next gen console that meets that requirement...the 360.
Other blog posts on XNA Game Studio Express:
XNA Team Blog: XNA Then and Now Part Two
Paul Mooney: XNA Game Studio Express
Team Xbox: XNA Game Studio Express: Power to the Gamers!
Addicted to Digital Media: Thoughts on XNA Game Studio Express
The Will Effect: Analyst: MS XNA Game Studio Express Poses Huge Threat to Nintendo and Sony