Why 'Halo 3' will decide the Xbox 360's fate

With Halo 3 being released tomorrow, some are wondering what the future of the video game console war looks like. Don Reisinger thinks the Xbox 360 will take the day.

With Halo 3 hype soaring, people are already dreaming about fragging aliens, dual-wielding machine guns and taunting 12-year-old kids when they sneak up behind them and put one in their head in a massive online battle.

But what many may not realize is that tomorrow's release of Halo 3 could be a watershed moment for Microsoft and the Xbox 360. With a blockbuster title that will surely captivate millions across the globe, the Xbox 360 will be the most played video game console for the month of October and should catapult the system to the top of the video game world.

Halo 3
The Xbox 360 Savior Gamespot

As we're all aware, Nintendo currently enjoys the top spot in the video game console war. With nearly 404,000 Wii units sold last month alone, Nintendo is hands down the most successful hardware company of this generation. And while Nintendo fans are quick to cite this number when their favorite console is under attack, they fail to mention how it compares to previous months.

According to The NPD Group, Nintendo Wii sales dropped 5 percent from July, while the Xbox 360, with 277,000 units sold, witnessed a sales increase of 63 percent from July. To round it out, the abysmal Playstation 3 sold just 131,000 units--a drop of nearly 18 percent.

Sure, the Nintendo Wii is doing well and it continues to sell better than the competition, but the main reason the Xbox 360 did so well last month was its software. Most notably, Madden. According to NPD, Electronic Arts sold 897,000 copies of the Xbox 360 version of Madden, representing the first time in years that a non-Sony console topped the Madden sales list.

I've said it once and I'll say it again--software and software alone will drive hardware sales after the initial hype dies down. And if the 5 percent drop in sales is any indication, maybe the Nintendo Wii's hype is finally dropping too.

Halo 3 will undoubtedly be the biggest game of the year. With millions already enjoying previous iterations, tomorrow's release could be the biggest we have ever seen. For many casual gamers, the release of Halo 3 means it's time to buy an Xbox 360. And it's this cadre of individuals that Microsoft has been waiting for.

Up to this point, the Playstation 3 has performed about as poorly as we can expect from a console. With no games to tout as deal breakers, the PlayStation 3 is dead in the water. And while some still hope for the days of Killzone saving the PS3's day, it's time to give up hope--nothing can save it now.

But Nintendo is in an entirely different situation. There is no denying the fact that Nintendo has a stranglehold on the industry and has realized that by appealing to the general public instead of just gamers, it can have some success.

But the main issue with Nintendo is its poor software library that is rife with mini games and barely appealing titles that don't offer enough of an experience to appeal to owners for too long. At this point, the Nintendo Wii feels more like a novelty item than a video game console.

But for all of its issues--shoddy hardware and underpowered technology--the Xbox 360 will take the day as long as Halo 3 becomes the success we all expect it to be.

By the end of this year, Halo 3 will sell millions of times. And as long as current Xbox 360 aren't purchasing the game two or three times, we should expect higher console sales numbers going forward.

Much like Mario games of the '90s and Final Fantasy VII, Halo 3 is a blockbuster title that will sell consoles. In fact, Halo 3 is the only reason some people will buy a console this generation.

So before everyone runs out to tell the world that the Nintendo Wii will be the de facto leader going forward, it's incumbent upon all of us to realize that Wii sales are falling, Xbox 360 sales are rising and with Halo 3 right around the corner, that trend will only continue until the latter cements itself as this generation's console war victor.

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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