With Microsoft’s announcement that users can expect the Xbox One on November 22nd, many gamers, and parents of gamers are asking themselves the question informed users always ask: “Is now the right time to buy an Xbox 360?”
I’d say that due in some part to the console’s age and just how much more of a convenience the features of the Xbox One will be the answer is: absolutely not.
For gamers, playing increasingly large high-definition titles is becoming a chore that involves switching between multiple discs: forcing users to remove themselves from game worlds, finding the game’s case, completely exiting to the Xbox Dashboard, placing another disc in and then sitting themselves back on the couch.
This is a problem that’ll only get worse with time. It’s not just game storage that makes purchasing an Xbox 360 at this stage a non-starter either, game developers are finally beginning to put their weight behind digital downloads, something that the Xbox 360 isn’t remotely ready for. Yes, it can download games in the background, but the device’s limited storage options mean, at some point, gamers will run out of space on any Xbox 360 bundle they buy. Users can purchase USB memory sticks for the console, but even today the storage quantities that users would need to even house just a few games would make that prohibitively expensive. This problem doesn’t go away for Xbox One users entirely, but at they’ll have a storage upgrade path extending beyond a few years.
Gamers aren’t the only ones who shouldn’t be purchasing an Xbox 360 at this late stage. For entertainment minded users the, gulf between it and the Xbox One is even larger. While applications like NFL.com are coming to the Xbox 360, its limited platform capabilities almost guarantee that its entertainment applications won’t be nearly as fully featured as what Xbox One users can expect, and that’s before you add-on any of the other software features like multitasking. The trend is likely to only get worse over the next few years. Microsoft won’t abandon the Xbox 360, but you can bet they’ll do everything in their power to give users more reasons to purchase it over their last generation console including more powerful entertainment applications.
Perhaps, there is no bigger reason to not purchase an Xbox 360 now than the Xbox 360’s Dashboard itself. While Microsoft revolutionized the market by providing new features in software updates almost yearly, it’s clear that as far as performance is concerned, they’ve hit a wall with the console’s processor. For users who expect the performance enabled by modern processors, the Xbox 360 is sometimes painfully slow, especially when loading entertainment applications.
Yes, Microsoft will continue updating the Xbox 360’s software, and with an install base of over a 100 million consoles sold game developers will continue to release titles for the console well into the middle of the decade.
In an ordinary gaming life cycle that would be grounds for purchasing today’s console at a cheaper price. Unfortunately this isn’t an ordinary product life-cycle. While the Xbox 360 does many things well and its price is lower than it’s ever been, the console is from 2005 and is clearly showing its age.
All indications point to the Xbox One besting the Xbox 360 in nearly every way possible. Gaming will be better, loading applications will be faster. Even the Kinect sensor will outright make the original’s look old technology.
Now isn’t the time to buy an Xbox 360 for any reason. Prospective users should at least wait until the launch of the Xbox One and at then reevaluate their choices, because even at $499, it’ll be a far better gaming or entertainment machine than its predecessor by a mile.