Whether you call it downloadable content, game add-ons or digital media distribution, the new wave of accessing information for console games is drastically evolving thanks to die-hard efforts of Microsoft and Sony. The industry is continually finding ways to break out of the reliance of hard-copied media formats. And even though both Microsoft and Sony are vying to gain exclusives with their respective online services, Microsoft has taken things a step further for the sake of keeping the Xbox 360 alive in 2009.
It's no surprise that the Xbox 360 is showing its age every year on the market. Toss in the fact that between the red rings of doom and the disc scratching fiasco, the Xbox 360 isn't looking future proof at all.
Things look worse for the console when you add in the fact that Microsoft could be facing major competition from Blu-ray in 2009. Simply considering that the now archaic storage space of the DVD format is at its limit and Microsoft is well aware of this. We've already seen exclusive media content featured in multiplatform PS3 games thanks to the extended data storage of the optical media: PS3 gamers were treated to additional content in games like 2K Games' The Darkness or Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV. If this tradition continues (i.e., developers favoring the storage space of Blu-ray with additional game content) and Sony actually puts in the necessary effort to leverage PS3 hardware sales, then it might be a quick-turning tide between Microsoft and Sony's consoles throughout 2009.
However, Microsoft has not been sitting by in idle anticipation of what may or may not happen in the following year. Their answer to the Blu-ray storage advantage is already in play, and it's already been established. Using Xbox Live as the prime service platform to offer exclusive Digital Media Downloads (DMD) across the spectrum of games, movies and music, is the perfect way to compensate for the lacking storage size of the DVD format.
Now I know a lot of you are thinking, "Isn't Sony doing the exact same thing with the PlayStation Network?" Yes, it's true that Sony is also unleashing a cavalcade of content for PSN users to try to make the service look as appealing as Xbox Live. They've been offering movies and television shows since E3. However, Microsoft isn't just about granting gamers the basic means of content, they're all about one-upsmanship. This has already been established with the exclusive episodic content for Grand Theft Auto IV, which will only be available on the Xbox 360, via Xbox Live.
Even with 50 gigabytes of storage space, PS3 gamers will never have access to content that couldn't fit on a standard DVD. Microsoft's plan of gaining rights to exclusive content and distributing the digital media on Xbox Live is the perfect way to keep gamers from completely jumping on-board with Sony, the PS3 and Blu-ray. This would hold especially true if a price-cut is planned for Sony's console later on in the second quarter of 2009.
If Microsoft can stave off the masses from accelerating PS3 sales throughout 2009, with continued exclusive content for big-name games and media, then they'll be standing on the perfect plateau for expanding the Xbox brand with a new console in 2010.
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