The success of the Xbox 360 has come due to a wide variety of great games, ease of development for programmers, and robust online services. It also happened because Sony screwed up, says one former boss of Microsoft’s Xbox division.
Speaking at a Northwest Entrepreneur Network event in Seattle, Robbie Bach—former president of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division—said that Sony’s mis-steps with the PS3 were part of what helped Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gain as much marketshare as it has.
“Some of the success of Xbox was due to the fact that Sony did some really not so smart things,” Bach stated. “They mismanaged their 70 percent market share. It’s a long conversation. The transition to PlayStation 3 was really, really bad. And really hard. They mismanaged their partners, they mismanaged their cost structure. They made their next platform so complicated that developers couldn’t develop for it.”
It really is interesting to look back at where Sony and Microsoft were at the point of the launch of the current generation of consoles. The original Xbox sold only a fraction of what the PlayStation 2 sold—and the PS2, to this day, sits as one of the two best-selling pieces of game hardware of all time. (Nintendo’s DS has been locked in a race with the PS2 for the crown.)
Sony ruled the home console market, and that rule was theirs to lose. Unfortunately, there seems to be another rule of sorts in the world of videogames: Whoever gets to the top inevitably lets that success go to their head. It happened to Atari, it happened to Nintendo, and with the PS3, it happened to Sony. The console was complicated, hard to program for, and cost $200 more than an Xbox 360.
Sony’s hubris when it came to the expected success of the PlayStation 3 can be summed up in these two classic quotes:
“We want consumers to think to themselves ‘I will work more hours to buy one.’ We want people to feel that they want it, irrespective of anything else.” – Ken Kutaragi, former chairman and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment
“We have built up a certain brand equity over time since the launch of PlayStation in 1995 and PS2 in 2000 that the first five million are going to buy it, whatever it is, even [if] it didn’t have games.” – David Reeves, former CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
At this point, the PlayStation 3 has found great success, and could in fact end up outselling the Xbox 360 worldwide once this console generation is over. However, almost nobody believed that the Xbox 360 would be as fierce and successful of a rival to the PS3 as it has become—including, I’d guess, Microsoft themselves.
And, of course—some would say that Microsoft has also been letting its success with the Xbox 360 go to its head, given some of the decisions the company has been making lately. Hopefully they can avoid the curse of ego winning out over common sense after the success they’ve been able to achieve this generation.
Source: GeekWire (Robbie Bach quote)