Opinion – Microsoft Is Going To Have A Hard Time Supporting The 360

by Matthew Kato on Jan 04, 2014 at 09:00 AM


Every time there's a new system that comes out, some gamers get nervous that there won't be any good games for the old platform anymore. And why should there be? Console manufacturers like Microsoft and Sony naturally want to migrate people over and spend their resources on the new system. So when a Microsoft executive says that the company plans to support the Xbox 360 for three years, I don't believe it.

Before the Xbox One came out, Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft chief marketing and strategy officer, said, "We are going to continue to invest in Xbox 360 and the two devices [Xbox 360 and the Xbox One] can work in concert. So it isn't like the day we ship the Xbox One your [Xbox 360] won't work. We will continue to support it. In fact, we're going to ship over one hundred new games on Xbox 360."

Funnily enough, earlier in the year, Mehdi said they were shooting to still be selling 360s for the next five years, but we'll take the three years as the actual benchmark for support and not simply selling and making the old system.

How Microsoft defines "support" is hard to gauge, but if they're referring to games, shipping 100-plus games on a "dead" system is not hard to do. The original Xbox did so (barely) even after the Xbox 360 came out in America on November 22, 2005, thanks in large part to annualized sports titles and those geared toward younger gamers. Although the list of post-Xbox 360 launch titles on the Xbox includes games like Black, Tomb Raider: Legend, Hitman: Blood Money, Destroy All Humans! 2, and Call of Duty 3, none of those games came from Microsoft's internal studios.

Looking at Microsoft's internal developers, I don't expect them to be creating a lot of interesting content for the Xbox 360 now that the Xbox One is out. Studios like 343 Industries, Lionhead, and Turn 10 Studios are already focused on the new system with the projects they are working on. Perhaps Good Science Studios (Kinect Adventures), Twisted Pixel (who is planning to put out LocoCycle for the 360 this year), or Rare might do something for the Xbox 360. Interestingly enough, Twisted Pixel's LocoCycle on Xbox One was originally intended to also be on Xbox 360, so the internal move away from the 360 might have already begun.

Contrast this with Sony's first-party support for the PlayStation 2 after the PS3 came out. Albeit, the PS2 had a larger worldwide installed base than the 360 currently enjoys, but Sony and its developers still supported the PS2 with God of War II, Rogue Galaxy, two Syphon Filter games, and numerous SingStar titles. Don't forget third-party games like Manhunt II, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

Regardless of the tit-for-tat lists, the fact remains that apart from keeping brand loyalty to your old customers, there's not a lot of financial incentive to sink money and energy into an old system once the new one is out. Even Nintendo pulled away from the Wii pretty fast once the Wii U came out, though it could have arguably made good use of the enormous Wii fanbase still out there. You don't have to be a hardened cynic to realize that one of the ways for companies to get you to buy their new console is to stop the supply to the old one.

You might keep the Xbox 360 connected to your TV because the Xbox One isn't backwards compatible, but I have a hard time believing it's because it's going to be pumped with new, good games.