Let's say you're looking to buy a Xbox 360 Elite or a PS3 Slim, and let's go ahead and assume that you've got a nice HDTV, and a wireless router, which you intend to use for online gaming.  Let's look at what you'll need and how much it'll cost you for each console.

If you get the Elite and you have a brain in your skull you'll also want to get a Play & Charge Kit for that wireless controller that comes with the 360.  After one month, you'll also need to pay for Xbox Live.  Since you want to use that wireless router of yours, you also have to get Microsoft's special wireless adapter for the 360.  If you want the true HD experience, you'll want to pick up an HDMI cable (let's assume you manage to find one for $25).  At least you don't have to buy a headset since the Elite comes with one.

Suddenly, you've got a $300 console, an $80 wireless adapter, a $20 Play & Charge Kit, and a $25 HDMI cable. Holy crap, you're suddenly out $425 plus applicable sales tax and you haven't even bought a game yet!  Then next month you'll have to pay $50 to keep Xbox Live Gold membership going, and that'll keep coming back year after year.  Once you suck up the cost of that first $60 game and your first $50 Xbox Live fee, you've spent around $535 plus applicable sales tax.  Ouch.


Now let's look at the PS3 Slim.  The controller is already recharable and there's a USB cable there that you can use to charge it.  No additional cost.  The PS3 Slim has WiFi built in.  No additional cost.  You still have to pay $25 for that HDMI cable, and if you really want a headset you can get the official PS3 bluetooth headset for $50.  Then you pick out a $60 game.

You've got a $300 console, a $25 HDMI cable, a $50 headset, a $60 game.  You've spent $435 + applicable sales tax.  Look at that, you saved about $100 by getting a PS3 Slim instead of an Xbox 360 Elite, and on top of it you also have a blu ray player to boot!  And there's no online subscription fees looming over your head either.  Yeah, the PSN currently doesn't have all the features that Xbox Live does, but can you really complain when it's free?

To top things off, the PS3 is way less prone to suffer from hardware failure than the Xbox 360 is.

From a consumer's point of view, the PS3 is really looking better and better all the time.  Now to clarify, I'm not a Microsoft hater, I'm not a Sony fanboy.  I'm a consumer first and a gamer second, that's all there is to it.  Now that the Xbox 360 Elite and the PS3 Slim are at the same price point, Microsoft really needs to do something to keep conscious consumers that haven't selected a PS3 or Xbox 360 yet coming to their side, or else they may find themselves in last place by the end of this generation of consoles.

If I was Microsoft, I would start making the 360 look more appealing outside of the United States.  If VGchartz is accurate, then at the time of this posting the Xbox 360 has sold 32.64 million consoles worldwide, and the PS3 has sold 25.52 million consoles worldwide.  At first glance it looks like Microsoft has nothing to fear, but let's take a closer look at the break down of those numbers.

Still referring to the numbers in VGchartz, in the United States, there have been 18.74 million Xbox 360s sold (about 57.4% of their total fan base) and there have been 9.86 million PS3s sold (about 38.6% of their total fan base).  Looks good for Microsoft in the US doesn't it, with a ratio of 1.9 Xbox 360s to every PS3.

Now, let's go outside of the US.  If you combine the numbers in VGcharz under Japan and Others, here's the break down:  13.9 million Xbox 360s sold (1.17 million from Japan and 12.73 from others) and 15.67 million PS3s sold (3.74 million from Japan and 11.93 million from others). 

What's this?  Tthe PS3 is actually outselling the Xbox 360 outside of the US, despite the fact that the Xbox 360 came out a year before the PS3 and that the PS3 has only seen a more manageable price point in the past 6 or 7 weeks.  Now why is the console market so different in the US than it is outside of the US?  Honestly, I don't know the answer to that question, but if I was Microsoft, I'd be worried about that.  If the PS3 was already more popular outside of the US when the PS3 still cost $400, what will happen now that the PS3 Slim is only $300?

If Microsoft hopes to keep it's #2 slot in this generation, they need to do something to encourage people outside of the US to buy the PS3.  It's not a good sign that 57.4% of their console fan base is in the US alone.  Within the US, one of the biggest barriers that have kept people from picking up the PS3 was the price tag.  That barrier has come down with last month's price drop putting it on equal footing (as far as the price tags are concerned) with the Xbox 360 Elite.  It will be interesting to see what happens in the US console climate over the next year or 2.

The ball's in your court Microsoft.  It's time to stop acting like nothing phases you and start making your accessories/online fees more affordable, otherwise I think it's highly likely that more and more people will jump ship to the PS3.