Microsoft has now taken off the Xbox 360 core and Xbox 360 Pro models off the Indian shelves and you may find one of these only if some stores have still some stock left, else it’s only Xbox 360 Arcade which is currently available in India, for a price of Rs 16,990, which includes a wireless controller, Standard AV Cable, 256 MB Memory unit.
So it now comes without the 20 GB HDD, HDMI Cable, Ethernet Cable and the Gaming Headset, whereas Sony has also brought down the price of PS3 to 19,990, with an additional advantage of having a 80 GB HDD and a Blu-Ray Disc Player under 20K, my article primarily focuses on these two consoles so I am not dwelling much on PS2, PSP and Nintendo’s Wii has being a late entrant to the Indian game console market.
So what amongst these two consoles is a good deal for Indian gamer today?
Xbox 360 Pros:
1) A wide library of game titles starting from Rs 999 – Rs 2499
2) Microsoft has being more responsive in providing after sales support for Xbox 360 in comparison to Sony and Nintendo.
3) Xbox Live is more stable and rather popular online game service; it has also won Guinness book record for having most number of online gamers for any online gaming service.
4) This point is rather weird but true, that the Xbox 360 firmware has being flashed and this console also sells in a modded version, so there are buyers in the market who have bought Xbox considering that it could be modded and they further play pirated games on it, however a modded Xbox 360 would bar you from playing online.
5) Xbox 360 is now offering Games on Demand service in India as well, where you can buy and download classic game titles from Xbox Marketplace online.
6) Xbox 360 is also going to integrate Twitter and Facebook on its dashboard this fall season, however this service would be accessible to gold members, last year Microsoft changed the Xbox Dashboard to a fresh theme offering gamers to create their own Avatars, in a short time you would be able to play a free downloadable game for your Avatar from Xbox Marketplace.
Cons for Xbox 360
1) With Xbox 360 Pro and Xbox Core pulled off, Xbox 360 Arcade is the only device available, so it offers limited choice.
2) Xbox 360 accessories are really expensive, HDD, Wireless Controller, Wireless Adapter all of these accessories can burn a hole in your pocket, also if you have a HD TV, you have to spend separately on a HD cable as well.
3) The dreaded RROD fear still looms, since the new lot of Xbox 360 Arcade consoles are believed to be having the latest Jasper Chip, which has reported rather low instances of hardware failure due to RROD issues, still the problem stays.
4) Playing with gamers worldwide would need you to opt for Gold Membership which currently costs Rs 2240, so your monthly gaming cost would cost you approximately Rs 187 per month.
Sony PS3 Pro’s
1) Currently Sony is offering a 80GB HDD equipped PS3 at a price point of Rs 20,000 which makes it a good deal since you also get a Blu-Ray Disc player, if you are a movie buff, it’s a real steal.
2) Sony has an advantage of capturing a gamers requirement at different price points, if you like gaming on the go, PS Portable is for you, while PSP Go also slated for India launch, it would provide another option to gamers for portable gaming, entry level console gamer already has PS2 and for High end gaming apart from PS3, PS3 slim is also going to release in India at the same price point of PS3, sans the HDD.
3) Blu-Ray movie disc prices have gradually come down, this should boost sales for PS3 in India.
4) Sony has revised the marketing and promo strategy for PS3, however MS has never come up with any AD or marketing campaign post its launch in India.
5) Sony also has a good line up of exclusive titles to play like Killzone, Uncharted series, God of War (Upcoming title on PS3), GT racing series, Heavy rain, Infamous and more.
6) You get a Wi-fi enabled console, with a web browser and free online game play network called HOME from Sony.
7) Very less breakdown issues reported for PS3 globally, in comparison to Xbox 360’s RROD failure.
Sony PS3 Con’s
1) The weakest link currently for Sony is not so strong online gamer community in comparison to Xbox LIVE service.
2) Hacker’s have still not found crack to the PS3 firmware which is good news for Sony, but not for cost conscious gamer in India, who has decided to move from PC gaming, and this gamer would have played pirated game titles on his PC, so he would seek a similar arrangement to adopt to console gaming, don’t expect these gamers to dish out Rs 2100 – Rs 2500 for a Blu Ray Disc PS3 game.
3) Sony is losing out some good exclusive titles like Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy to Xbox 360, so the exclusive title related battle is slowly dwindling where Sony had an advantage earlier.
4) The count of downloadable arcade game titles available on Xbox LIVE service is better compared to Sony’s HOME service.
Now some common problems which plague the growth of console gaming market in India, the retail set up in India is not equipped to handle game market requirements, since the gamers playing console games are no longer confined to teenagers and kids, there is a large chunk of adults now hooked on to gaming and they are equally passionate about gaming as a regular teenager would be.
Retail vendor’s like Planet M, Croma, Landmark and others have being selling consoles for quite some time but there is a huge scope of improvement for the Indian retail market to live up to gamers expectations.
Staff at retail stores is not well versed to handle a gamers query, I you pose them a question asking them what console should I buy, they would rather leave you more confused or else, follow the businessman rule, sell the product that earns more margin for the dealer, moreover gaming does not stop just at consoles, if you are out to buy gaming accessories at these stores, just hope you find what you are looking for, since these retail stores do not even know what accessories could be required to complete a proper console gaming experience.
You would find game titles eating dirt on their shelves and hardly any new stock coming in, gamers worldwide get new game title release delivered at their door steps, with prompt services from online sellers, and easier logistics model in other countries, so when you pre-order some game abroad, you would get it delivered on time as promised on the date of game release, whereas in India consider a minimum week delay from the time the game is released in India to the time it actually lands up in your console.
Buying games at MRP is also not guaranteed in India, it’s only if you buy it from retail stores you can buy it at uniform price, if you have ordered it via courier service, be ready to cough up additional octroi charges to the guy who delivers the game to you.
There are some young people turned entrepreneurs, who have ventured into gaming sector business and it is the network of this dealers who identify the need of gamers better and try to bring them latest games, accessories at reasonable prices and also manage to get hard to get game titles.
Console gaming is trying to make inroads to the living room of the Indian gamer, however I believe the path ahead is very not smooth let’s hope for the best.