257w ago - I won't be able to transcribe my interview with Microsoft entertainment president Robbie Bach (who oversees videogames, amongst other things) until tonight, most likely.
But between my talk to him, Microsoft's keynote last night, and Sony's keynote today (which included a section with PlayStation topper Kaz Hirai talking videogames), I got a few interesting statistics worth comparing:
- Number of worldwide members of Microsoft's online videogame service Xbox Live: 17 million. Number of registered accounts on Sony's competing Playstation Network: 17 million.
(Even though there are substantially fewers PS3s on the market than Xbox 360s, Sony does have the advantage of people going onto PSN from the PSP. In addition, PSN is free to play online, but Xbox Live costs money, though anyone can "join" just to browse downloadable content)
- In the last three months of 2008, Microsoft added 3 million Xbox Live members. In December, Sony added 2.1 million Playstation Network members.
- PlayStation Network users have downloaded more than 330 million pieces of content. Microsoft's content downloads went up 70% since it launched the new version of Xbox Live in November (not comparable, I know)
- Over 25 million "Halo" games have been sold and the average...
257w ago - It has been confirmed that Kodu will hit the Xbox 360 in the Spring. This is a piece of software designed to assist anyone even as young as 7 to create their own video games.
To quote: The idea of video game players making their own games arrived on console systems three months ago with Sony's release of LittleBigPlanet for the PlayStation 3. That game let players create new environments and levels for the game's character SackBoy.
Kodu is also expected to have some online sharing features if privacy concerns can be addressed properly, says lead designer Matt MacLaurin. And Kodu, because it is more programming-based, will give designers more control over the rules that govern the characters in their games.
"Although these are programming constructs, we tried to express them in terms that almost a toddler can understand," he says. Learning is at the heart of Kodu. At home one night, MacLaurin says he "started thinking what is my (four-year-old) daughter going to think computers are for and what is she going to think her own abilities in regard to the computer are."
He decided to create a simple game creation program that "you could sit down and start creating right away and play in half an hour have something that is really fun to play with," he says.
258w ago - In this feature we're going to leave all the fanboyism at the door.
Despite the fact that this is a PS3 Web site I do take some pride in knowing that we don't pander to Sony and certainly don't pretend Microsoft don't exist: I personally keep both consoles (and a Wii) at the side of the television and of late it's the 360 that has seen the most playtime, my recent acquisition of PlayTV notwithstanding.
Why? Perhaps it's just a case of catching up with all the Xbox games I've missed whilst hammering the hell out of the PS3 for the last 12 months, catching up with Gears or getting involved with the whole Community Games angle, or perhaps it's just nice to have the option to play all the games released.
But such whimsical fence-sitting doesn't help with this article, which is intended to do just one thing: decide the victor of 2009. Yes, there's going to be an awful lot of educated guesswork here, because naturally we don't know everything that the major players have planned for us this year, but we know one thing for sure: not a great deal will change from 2008.
Sony will still promise the earth, extend the firmware to new realms and delay key titles beyond belief, and Microsoft will do pretty much the same - it's the way things are in the world of consoles...