Console wars are nothing new. They’ve been around since the 1990s when Nintendo and Sega were pitted against one another. These conflicts have always been backed up by the companies as well, with them duking it out to leave their console on top. So today, on Culture of Gaming, we wanted to put two industry behemoths against each other. Who’s going to win in the battle of PS3 vs. Xbox 360?
Now it would be completely unfair just to have me fight both sides, with biases surely coming into play. So I’ve brought along staff writer Brandon to argue for the PS3, whilst I’ll argue for the Xbox 360. Who’s going to come out on top? Sony or Microsoft? Let’s find out!
Let’s start at the beginning. Which console had the better release? We’re going to be talking marketing, initial Sales, reception to console, and more. There is one conceit to be made though, the PS3 released a full year after the Xbox 360, so take that into account.
Xbox 360 [Will]: With its release on 22nd November 2005, the Xbox 360 was a whole year ahead of the PS3. Microsoft could effectively control the media output about this console generation. (Much like they are doing now with the Series X). They announced it on MTV. They were aiming to launch the console directly at the consumer, instead of going through corporate hurdles.
Set to a backdrop of The Killers and Elijah Wood, this 20 minute reveal felt like it was from 2005. But Microsoft tailored the experience towards the Xbox 360 as a ‘Global Community’ and ‘all-in-one entertainment centre’ – and it worked! Only a couple of months later, E3 made it clear that the Xbox 360 would “revolve around you” as a gamer or casual consumer. Microsoft was aiming at both gamers as everyone, by having the 360 be not just a console, but a media centre too.
So when the Xbox 360 released, Microsoft essentially had the market cornered. So what did they do? Not make enough consoles. This supply and demand were met; however, as by the end of 2005, they had sold 1.4 Million Units. When the release of the PS3 rolled around at the end of 2006, they’d sold around 8.3 Million Units. They were ahead, who was going to stop them?
PS3 [Brandon]: I make no effort to hide my loyalties, and I was a die hard fanboy of the PlayStation since the PS1 back in 95. However, by the time the PS3 was approaching its launch window, it was clear that Sony was a tad too arrogant about their new black box.
Every Sony event that featured a presentation about the upcoming console was full of lofty promises. The most powerful new tech, the smartest console ever, loads of specs, the machine could seemingly do it all. Everything revolved around their new cell processor and how it would change the computing space forever.
Despite what ended up like a rocky launch for the console, Sony knew ahead of time that the PS3 was meant to be a long-term investment. Sony believed the PlayStation was the place gamers wanted to play. If Sony could get developers and fans on board with their vision, they really did have quite an impressive piece of tech even at launch.
Console’s are expensive, that’ll come as a surprise to no-one. So here we’re going to be arguing about which console was better for its price. We’ll also be considering how both consoles were repeatedly revised, and whether or not these revisions were worth it.
PS3 [Brandon]: The cost of the PS3 at launch was difficult to justify. A $499 minimum and a $599 upgraded version was a steep price to pay with limited titles available. However, people often overlook exactly what you got at these price points from the PS3.
Can you add up the cost of a Blu Ray player, a PlayStation 1, 2, and 3, and a powerful processor capable of supercomputing? Ok, you probably don’t need the supercomputer, but still, each of those items individually will add up. Now rewind time back to 2006 and add up the cost of each item. Suddenly the price point of the PS3 doesn’t seem so bad.
The PS3 could do all of the aforementioned tasks quite well. When you take a deeper look and consider all of the PS3 capabilities, you can make a much stronger case to justify the price of the system, which Sony was selling at an over $200 loss.
Subsequent iterations cut back significantly on the cost of the system by removing certain features like backward compatibility. However, they did upgrade storage and other aspects of the system. Midway through the console lifespan, you could get an upgraded PS3 for roughly $300.
While they didn’t start out in the best place, they closed strong on the Xbox.
Xbox 360 [Will]: Cost isn’t everything, but being cheaper sure is a bonus. At launch, the Xbox 360 was $299 with a controller, or you could get a version with 20GB memory space, controller, and headset. Microsoft was even losing money. The production cost was more than the product itself. They just had the confidence they’d get it back.
The console’s price never went about $399, with newer versions running better and getting more storage space. With the launch of the PS3 coming in at a higher price tag, Microsoft was essentially covering the market by making sure their console was the affordable option.
Here we come to the meat and potatoes of the debate. After all, you need games for a console. We’re going to try and be objective here by considering the breadth of experiences each console provides, on top of quality. However, it’s clear that this can come down to personal preference, so be wary.
PS3 [Brandon]: There is no way to cover up the PS3s laughably horrendous set of launch exclusives. A list made up of such “masterpieces” as Resistance: Fall of Man and Genji: Days of the Blade. Despite a very poor showing in terms of launch titles, the PS3 answered big throughout its lifespan.
The PS3 eventually started to roll out some real heavy hitters in the exclusive space. Metal Gear Solid 4 maintained its loyalty to the PlayStation name. God of War III was another entry in a fan favorite action series. Naughty Dog brought us just a few critically acclaimed games in Uncharted and The Last of Us. Both of which sit high on the all time lists of many fans.
Maybe those games weren’t your cup of tea. That’s ok; the PS3 had access to a ton of Japanese imports that the Xbox could never touch, especially if you love JRPGs. Maybe you would like to scratch that creative itch with Little Big Planet or just some good action fun with Infamous. For me personally, it was a lot of these titles, but mostly it was deep, engaging experiences like Journey and remasters of Shadow of the Colossus and Ico . Also, my personal favorite progenitor of an entire genre in Demon’s Souls.
The PS3 had its fair share of problems, but it absolutely delivered in the games department housing titles Xbox fans are still wishing for. Sony continued this to the end of the PS3 and throughout the PS4 generation. Xbox is still fighting to catch up in this department.
Xbox 360 [Will]: I’ll be the first to admit, when the Xbox 360 launched, it didn’t exactly have anything to write home about in terms of exclusives either. Of its 18 games, most were sports and racing. Some standouts came from Rare, in the form of Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero. We also got GUN and Quake 4. So it was a decent start.
However, it started picking up throughout the generation. The Gears of War franchise started its life in 2006 and showed the world just how to do cover shooting properly. The Xbox 360 also got its equivalent of Animal Crossing in Viva Piñata. A game I think so many people missed but should’ve given a chance. Crackdown and it’s sequel were essentially sci-fi versions of GTA, but with enough of a twist in the co-op gameplay. Something I also didn’t realise was that Valve’s Left 4 Dead was an Xbox 360 exclusive, do with that what you will.
All of this comes without mentioning the titan, Halo. We got 4 Halo games! Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4. This series might be an acquired taste, but with sales around 20 Million units across these four games, it’s undeniable Halo was a console seller. The first two games set the standard, but the rest of these games made Halo a true Microsoft promoter. Without Halo, I don’t know how the Xbox 360 would’ve even competed; it really allowed Microsoft to come into their own.
And of course, who can forget Peggle?
Finally, we’ll touch on each console’s features. Over their existence, what exactly did they bring to their platform that was unique, or just commendable? Whilst the Xbox 360 and PS3 are part of the same generation; they ended up doing things a little differently. What was offered to the consumer outside of the raw gaming experience that made one console better than the other?
PS3 [Brandon]: What’s something fans ask for every time a console launches? You probably guessed backwards compatibility, and you guessed correctly. Backwards compatibility was a big deal for the PlayStation 2 and proved to be the same for the PS3.
New consoles often have limited titles available at launch. Developers are not quite targeting next gen hardware around the time of release. Backwards compatibility aids the generational transition and the PS3 delivered from day 1. Quick side question: who else is as dedicated to bringing backwards compatibility to fans?
The PS3 could do more than just play PlayStation 1 and 2 games. The PS3 also came with a built in Blu-Ray player, and we all know how popular Blu-Rays became.
One often overlooked and drastically underappreciated feature was the integration capabilities with the PSP and PS Vita. The PSP and Vita had a lot of awesome features, and the way they could connect to the PS3 was excellent. You could get games and software, remote play, or even use it as an extra controller if you felt like it.
Just to be abundantly clear, Xbox 360 had literally none of those things.
Xbox 360 [Will]: Microsoft made a point of presenting the Xbox 360 as a ‘media centre.’ It wasn’t just about playing games for them; they wanted people to use their console for everything. It was a place for you to collect your music, videos, and streaming services. On top of that, Xbox Live meant you could easily interact with your friends whilst doing all these things, on the same platform.
Speaking of Xbox Live, the service was cranked up to 11 since the original Xbox. Easier access to voice chat ‘parties,’ easy messaging, and great online matchmaking service. Yeah, you were paying for it, but that accessibility was worth the cost. It was so simple to jump into a party, or just play a game with friends.
The Xbox 360’s biggest feature had to be Xbox Live Arcade. This aspect of the marketplace gave gamers many games they’d never see otherwise. Microsoft didn’t just collect older arcade games; they also used the Arcade as a platform for smaller, indie games. Without the Arcade, we may never have seen Castle Crashers, Trials, Limbo, or Braid.
These bite-size, easily repeatable experiences also benefited from having multiplayer. A lot of the games could be enjoyed on the couch or across the internet. Microsoft was using the service as a way to hone in on more casual players. Curating experiences that were designed to be more immersive, not because they were realistic. But because they really sucked you in.
So there you have it! Culture of Gaming’s arguments in favour of the Xbox 360 and PS3. What did we miss? What games do you remember love playing in the seventh generation? As always, thanks for reading COG!