Repackaged Xbox points controller at casual gamer
In a bid to woo more of the casual gamers flocking to the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft is repackaging its lowest-priced version of the Xbox 360...
Seattle Times technology reporter
In a bid to woo more of the casual gamers flocking to the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft is repackaging its lowest-priced version of the Xbox 360 with games, a wireless controller and a high-definition cable.
The Xbox 360 Arcade, the company announced Monday, comes with five casual games, including "Pac-Man Championship Edition" and "Uno," as well as 256 megabytes of storage.
It sells for $280, the same price as the stripped-down Xbox 360 Core system, which includes only a wired controller and is being phased out.
The Wii, which sells for $250 but can be difficult to find, has been the surprise star of the latest generation of video-game consoles, outselling both the Xbox 360 and the Sony PlayStation 3 in the 11 months since its U.S. release.
Its intuitive, motion-sensing wireless controller has broadened the audience of game players, who have bought 4.5 million consoles in that time, according to data from the NPD Group.
The Xbox 360, on the market a year longer than the Wii, has sold about 6.8 million units in the U.S.
"The Wii has done extremely well in the market," said Van Baker, an analyst with Gartner. "It's been appealing to casual gamers, so [the Xbox 360 Arcade] is meant to give [Microsoft] something that's competitive to the Wii."
Microsoft is billing the Arcade as a "family friendly" version of its game console.
It's rolling out more content on the Xbox Live network, such as Warner Bros. and Nickelodeon shows and games based on Shrek and SpongeBob SquarePants, which can be downloaded to the console.
But the limited amount of storage included with the Arcade means a user would need to buy an add-on hard drive to store more than one 30-minute, standard-definition show.
Baker said Microsoft will need to pump lots of marketing dollars into convincing casual gamers, who also spend lots of time playing PC games, that the Xbox 360 is an option for them.
"Casual gamers don't think of the Xbox 360," Baker said. "They think of the Wii."
Benjamin J. Romano: 206-464-2149 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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