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Xbox 360 and PS3, a Post-Mortem

Jun 4, 2013
3,042
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0
SA, TX
www.trueachievements.com
Although these consoles will continue to sell, and be supported, for years to come, I thought a little reflection on what the past 8 years have brought us was in order. Ok, a lot of reflection. With the release of PS4 and Xbox One imminent, it seemed the perfect time to look back. This post is absurdly long, sorry.

Edit: Also this is my first thread created with my new 'member' status, so be kind. Or take my request for kindness as license to .GIF me into oblivion. :D Cheers!


The birth of the generation:

This generation began with the release of the Xbox 360 on November 22nd, 2005. The original 360 console, aka the “fat” 360, released in two Skus, a standard sans hard drive for $299 and a ‘pro’ with a 20gb hard drive for $399. While initial sales were brisk, the fat 360 suffered setbacks due to the now-infamous ‘Red Ring of Death’, which wasn’t a ring at all but rather 3 of the 4 lights on the console’s power button circumference lighting up red.

Initially MS claimed the console’s failure rate was within the industry tolerances of 3-5%, even though widespread anecdotal evidence pointed to a much, much higher rate. Estimates ranged anywhere from 23% to over 50% failure rate by various tests and consumer polling.

After 20 months of increasing negative public commentary on the matter, MS came out with a public apology on July 5, 2007 and extended the manufacturer’s warranty on all 360 units to 3 years rather than the normal one, and arranged a program to send bricked consoles in free of charge, shipping paid by MS, for repair. Repair turnaround time was typically one to three weeks depending on how close you lived to a repair center.

While subsequent main board chip iterations experienced less failures (aka the “Jasper” configuration experiencing failure rates in the single digit percentages), again we have anecdotal reports that virtually all ‘fat’ configuration 360s experienced higher than acceptable failure rates, especially after the first year of use and/or when used intensively such as many newly-minted ‘gamerscore’ addicts did.

Additionally, 360 systems were noted to have problems with scratching disks if the console was moved or tilted while the disc was spinning in the drive. Now while many consumer products with disc drives can be moved about when in use, some even being designed for that purpose (anyone remember the Walkman personal CD player?), it should be noted that anyone moving around their 360 while a disc was actively spinning in the tray, or in the tray at all for that matter, is sort of asking for something to get damaged. I know I don’t make a habit of shifting/shuffling around high-end electronics while discs are actively being read.

An old competitor re-enters the ring:

While MS was experiencing all of these problems, a door seemingly should have opened for Sony to come in and steal the show, even though they launched the PS3 console nearly a full year later on November 11th, 2006 in Japan and November 17th in the states.

Sony was undeniably the reigning champion of the previous console generation, with worldwide PS2 sales over 100 million by the time the 360 launched, and lifetime to date sales of over 155 million to date (as of last estimate).

The year’s head start the 360 had over the PS3 had been marred by massive failure rates as well as extremely tight supply of the console, leaving many gamers either frustrated by broken systems, or frustrated by no system at all. Many were hungry, and the door was left open for Sony to come in.

However the PS3 had growing pains of its own. For starters, it launched with a built-in bluray disk drive. While cheap today, the tech behind this was prohibitively expensive at the time for 2006’s launch.

The powers that be at that time were battling it out for which High Definition format would ultimately become the defacto for the industry, and many believe Sony opted to take massive losses as well as risk sales by releasing a more expensive console in order to ‘trojan horse’ the bluray player into as many homes as possible. By making it built-in rather than an ex post facto add-on like the HD DVD player for the 360, Sony could ensure an install base to increase demand for bluray movies as well as spread word of mouth for future standalone bluray player sales.

With the expensive bluray player on-board, the PS3 released at $499 for a 20gb hard drive version, and $599 for the 60gb version. Unfortunately the diodes for the bluray player were in short supply, limiting hardware availability at launch. Initial plans were for 400,000 units available launch day in the US, but up to 40% of those units did not arrive on launch day, although no concrete data is available. However, by January 2007 at least 1 million units had shipped to the states, as well as another one million to Japan and additional consoles to other markets.

Supply definitely constrained early adopters moreso than price, but after the initial waves of tech enthusiasts procured a PS3, the price point affected sales to the more mainstream audience, giving the 360 a chance to recover from its early stumbles.

This, combined with Halo 3’s massive launch in September 2007 (selling over 3.3 million copies in its first 12 days) and the 360 having that year’s head start to get production numbers up enough to meet demand meant that, despite the hardware problems experienced by a large swath of 360 owners that first year, 360 units continued to fly off shelves even after the PS3 launched.

Launch software comparison:

PS3 – CoD 3, Madden 07, Marvel: UA, Genji: DotB, Mobile Suit Gundam, NBA 07, NBA 2K7, NHL 2K7, NFS: Carbon, Resistance: Fall of Man, Ridge Racer 07, Tiger Woods PGA 07, Tony Hawk Project 8, Untold Legends.

Xbox 360 – Amped 3, CoD2, Condemned: Criminal Origins, FIFA 06, Gun, Kameo, Madden 06, NBA 2K6, NBA Live 06, NFS: Most Wanted, NHL 2K6, Perfect Dark Zero, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Project Gotham Racing 3, Quake 4, Ridge Racer 6, Tiger Woods PGA 06, Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland.

Gone are the days of Sega and Nintendo where consoles’ launch lineup consists primarily of 1st party titles. The 360 and PS3, more than any generation before them, subsisted on the revenue stream generated by third party software, and their respective launches were no different. The biggest selling game of the 360 launch was CoD 2 (3rd party), and while Reistance: Fall of Man was a technical showcase for the PS3 at launch and was one of its top two sellers, the system still road the wave of a very similar launch lineup of sports titles and 3rd party shooters and action games.

Looking forward to the Xbox One and PS4 launches, we can see this trend again. Despite AAA titles such as Killzone: SF at PS4’s launch and Forza 5 for the XB1, we see both systems launching with a host of 3rd party titles on day one such as Battlefield 4, CoD Ghosts, and Assasin’s Creed 4. Even one of the most hotly anticipated next-gen titles, Watch Dogs, will see its (delayed) release on both systems.

Build it, and devs will come:

One thing that has been common amongst consoles over the years was an architecture designed around a particular mindset. Whether it was the Nintendo 64 eschuing discs and sticking to cartridge-based games (thus limiting developers in how much info they could store on a title), Sony opting for the disc format (giving devs massively more storage, which secured Squaresoft and others Sony-only for years), Microsoft making hard drives a standard in all OG Xbox consoles (the 8gb hard drive came in every OG Xbox, allowing devs a guarantee of the ability to cache information on it), or Sony going with a convoluted Cell architecture in the PS3, we could always count on console manufacturers to put their own twist on each generation.

For Sony this generation, that twist ultimately became a switchback trail. It took years for developers to fully grasp the coding quirks for the PS3’s complex Cell architecture, a task some to this day haven’t quite mastered (see Skyrim problems). Meanwhile the 360 had the comparatively ‘easy to code for’ hardware, and benefitted from years of “we got the better version” in the console wars.

Sony already had an uphill battle with the PS3 between the higher price point and releasing a year later, and despite MS’s stumbles with hardware failures and online paywalls, this third hurdle was enough to keep the PS3 from overtaking the 360 both in overall sales and in mindshare throughout the generation, at least in the USA, although worldwide the numbers are very close.

In fact, some say that if you factor in all the “extra” 360 units sold to owners who either couldn’t wait for their system to return from a RRoD repair or had to buy a new system due to being out of the 3-year warranty, that in reality more individual owners are out there for the PS3 than the 360.

While this may be true, there is no way to definitively prove it (yet), so as it stands we have two consoles with nearly equal sales numbers and very close attach rates. Had one side or the other perhaps made one mistake less (no RRoD for the 360, easier architecture for PS3), we might have much more lop-sided numbers in the twilight years of this generation’s hardware life-cycle.

The incredible shrinking consoles:

September 1st, 2009 saw the release of the PS3 ‘slim’. This shrinking form factor of the console hardware follows a precedent established by Sony in previous generations, and up to this generation they were the only console manufacturer to revise their hardware in such a consumer-apparent way. Revisions are often made on the hardware side, when smaller processors and less expensive components become available, although the system specs and capabilities themselves don’t change.

Prior to Sony’s market innovation, however, consumers never saw the outward appearance of the consoles changing. Making this change in the internals outwardly apparent via cosmetic changes makes it instantly recognizable as ‘something new’ for the consumer, and is an incredibly effective marketing technique. Meanwhile from a technical standpoint, the successive PS3 skus with more efficient internals run cooler, quieter, and take up less space than their predecessors.

Microsoft saw an opportunity to follow suit with this fashionable refacing of consoles rather than just hardware revisions. June 2010 saw the introduction of the 360s, aka the ‘slim’ 360. This console sku, like the PS3 slim before it, has a lower profile and footprint and runs quieter and cooler. Additionally, it has a failure rate vastly improved over any of its ‘fat’ 360 predecessor skus.

Many ‘fat’ 360 owners purchased a slim even if they still had functional original units because they felt more comfortable with a more reliable console coupled with a vastly improved form factor. The matte-finish 360s is still considered by many to be the best version of the 360, despite the even-smaller 360e that has since been released.

The other aspect of the shrinking console sku is it usually signifies cheaper console production costs, which ultimately leads to price drops at retail. These are nearly a given in any gaming console generation, but they were especially significant this generation because the $399 and $599 respective prices for the 'premium' versions of the 360 and PS3 were price points outside the comfort level of the average mass-market consumer, the PS3's especially so.

To be competitive Sony had to bring their costs down to within a $50-100 gap over the 360 and push the value to the consumer with its bundled in bluray drive, which is presumably why they were first to market with a cost-saving "slim" version.

Of course that technology became significantly cheaper and eventually the PS3 reached virtual parity with the 360, recent prices running right around the $250 mark for 250gb hard drive versions of each, and even 500gb versions of the PS3 bundled with a game for $270 and similar bundles for the 360 such as the Halo 4 and Tomb Raider bundled 250gb 360E console for $250.

These mass market prices late in the generation have been attracting a steady stream of late (very late) adopters buying them as cheap alternatives to the early adopter madness that has come upon us with the upcoming 8th generation.

A console by any other color:

With the success of its limited edition versions of the Original (OG) Xbox such as the ice blue Halo 2 console (Canada only), the Skeleton Black console (Japan only), and the Translucent Green console (Europe only), MS decided to expand the ‘limited edition’ market worldwide this generation, although the term ‘limited edition’ was used rather more loosely with the 360 than the OG Xbox. The only thing that seemed to 'limit' these versions was how many folks preordered them.

This generation saw the release of the Halo 3 ‘fat’ 360, Modern Warfare 2 ‘fat’ 360, the Gears of War ‘fat’ 360, the Modern Warfare 3 slim, the Halo Reach Slim, the Gears 3 slim, the Halo 4 slim, the R2D2 slim with matching golden C3PO controller, and a couple of others.

The PS3 saw a couple of notable releases in this front with the red God of War console bundle version as well as the Azurite Blue PS3. However, the fashionista console market has definitely been a bigger target for MS this generation than Sony.

Reinventing the way we play:

With the launch of the Xbox 360 and its gamerscore addition, Microsoft is largely credited for the ‘achievement’ system employed by many games today. While not all, or even most, gamers pay much heed or attention to their achievements, gamerscore, trophies, etc, this meta-game has become more mainstream through the years and has had a major impact on the industry.

The gamerscore system was launched with the release of the 360 console in 2005. Similar gaming milestone systems were launched by Sony for the PS3 and Valve for PC games within their umbrella 2008. Numerous gaming sites have popped up that are exclusively devoted to achievement/trophy hunting, tips and tricks, etc. Most of us know at least one friend that will say ‘I refuse to buy that DLC if it doesn’t have achievements/trophies’.

Many folks, myself included, spent much of this generation structuring how we even approach playing a given title depending on its achievement/trophy list. Multiple playthroughs? Check. Collectibles? Check. You get the idea.

Even shovelware titles like Jumper: Griffin’s Story have seen the light of day in people’s Gamefly qeues because of their easy/quick achievements/trophies for those stat-addicted gamers out there looking for the next notch on their virtual belt. And a game that might have otherwise seen a full playthrough by fans of the fiction, Avatar: TLA/TBE, rarely sees more than 3-5 minutes in a 360 owner’s disc tray because it has been relegated to the status of “the easiest and quickest 1000gamerscore of the generation”.

Internet gaming in the console sphere:

On the 360 anyone can either create an offline or online profile, with the online version having a silver (free) tier and a gold (paid) tier. Achievements can be earned even with an offline profile, although none of them will be ‘date-stamped’ and it will not be tracked by Xbox Live’s servers. The free silver Live account solves that and allows you to connect to live to date-stamp and track your achievements and Gamerscore as well as buy games from the marketplace and send messages and chat invites to friends. However, for multiplayer gaming on the 360 it’s go Gold or stay home.

Much controversy surrounded the gold tier within the gaming community initially, as it effectively served as a paywall wherein 360 owners would not have access to multiplayer features of their games without paying the $50 per year (recently increased to $60/yr) subscription fee for Xbox Live Gold. Gaming over the internet was still something relatively new to consoles, only passing through its early developmental years on the OG Xbox as well as, to a lesser extent, on the PS2 (most notably Final Fantasy XI on that front).

Microsoft arguably laid the groundwork for online console gaming though, and the ball was therefore in their court at the start of this generation on how best to assess quality versus value. PC gamers have long been used to “free” online play, but because online play was still in its formative years for console owners, there was no precedent really to follow. Many console players, after all, had never set foot in the PC gaming sphere.

The service has proven to be worth the price of admission for many, if not most 360 owners as annual subscriptions have steady increased over the years, with reportedly 46 million subscribers as of April of 2013.

All that membership revenue seemed to have been making Gold the place to be, anecdotal evidence early on in the PS3/360 generation leaning toward server stability, matchmaking, overall lag and gameplay being superior on Xbox Live over Playstation Network. However, more recent years have seen PSN making great strides in these areas, reaching virtual parity, and all signs are pointing to this upward trend continuing, especially with online multiplayer now being a subscription-based affair on the PS4 just like it is on the 360/XB1.

Most people that have experienced multiplayer on both Xbox Live and Playstation Network late this generation seem to say, at from what I can gather, that there is little discernible difference between the two systems on the gaming side these days. Party chat and additional features are a different matter though, and insofar as those are concerned the 360 is still holding the reigns sort-o-speak for current gen.

Additionally, Sony is doubling down on their stance that their online ecosystem has vastly improved over the years and will only continue to do so (presumably from the newly-minted revenue stream of PS+). Microsoft, in their turn, is promising to improve as well on what was already considered a top-tier service by expanding Xbox Live to a purported 300,000 servers worldwide for the Xbox One.

Needless to say, internet gaming (among other internet-based functions) has become a mainstay in the console space for these two players.

A sticking point of note is that while Xbox Live Gold is required to use virtually any app on the 360 and XB1, Sony continues to offer everything but multiplayer gaming to regular PSN subscribers (aka no subscription fee), and withholds only multiplayer gaming, the free games promotion, and certain other discounts/deals for PS+ subscribers going into next gen.

Changing the game for video game consoles:

Microsoft made no qualms about gunning for the living room as more than just a gaming console this generation. Very early on they announced plans to begin bringing entertainment apps to the 360 platform. Initially we saw the ubiquitous Netflix in 2008, followed shortly by Facebook, Twitter, and Last.fm apps. In the years that followed we've had HuluPlus, Internet Explorer, Redbox Instant Video, Youtube, ESPN, and a whole host of other apps, including some specific to overseas markets like BBC's iplayer. The PS3 followed suit, releasing its own Netflix app in 2009 along with others subsequently, although to date it doesn't have quite the large number of apps that the 360 has. One has to wonder how many people use the more obscure apps though, as the big ones like Netflix and Amazon instant are available on both.

Lest we forget in all this talk of apps appealing to the mass market, there was another 'mass market' factor in play. With the tremendous breakout success of the Nintendo Wii, both MS and Sony saw fit to introduce their own versions of motion gaming this generation. MS introduced the Kinect on Nov 4th, 2010 in the US, while Sony introduced the PS Move on Sep 17th in the US with staggered releases earlier/later elsewhere. As of Nov 2012 the Move had sold approximately 15 million units, while the Kinect had sold 24 million units as of February 2013.

While many call these devices (including the Wii) a 'fad', it has had an impact not only on the games industry but also on people's lives. Many are the thread on gaming forums and fitness forums where someone has started on a weight-loss regimen that included an exercise routing designed around a Wii or Kinect. And we have an upcoming generation with the Kinect 2.0 and the PS Eye devices for the XB1 and PS4 respectively, devices which many millions of dollars have been spent bringing to market.

Some die-hard gaming enthusiast protested, rather vocally at times, the bastardization of their gaming machine in favor of mass market appeal, both for apps and for motion gaming, but the uptick as well as continued steady revenue from hardware sales at retail that allowed this generation to last 8 years speaks to how much entertainment apps and motion gaming revitalized this aging console generation.

It helps that the consoles themselves got down to the more palatable mass-market price of $250 give or take, but before SMART TVs were a thing many were looking for a set top box that could serve as a gate for their internet streaming entertainment methods, and the 360 and PS3 offered a very attractive package at the time with the added value of gaming and DVD (and bluray for PS3) playback. Others, possibly adult gamers looking for a more "adult" alternative to the Wii, or perhaps parents looking for a way to get more involved with their teens' gaming hobbies with the "family" angle of the Kinect and PS Move, bought into the promises made by motion gaming, extending the legs of these consoles considerably.

The hard numbers:

As of August 2013, PS3 had finally surpassed the 360 in worldwide sales, with sales of around 80million units, while MS had around 78 million units sold as of that same time.

While these numbers are only approximate, given that Sony started lumping PS2 and PS3 sales together for accounting purposes recently, and MS’s numbers obviously include at least a few if not a few million replacement consoles when the RRoD went down, they do give us a rough picture of a very tight fight for our living rooms this generation.

While attach rates are a much more difficult number to pin down, most estimates place attach rates for both 360 and PS3 at between 8 and 9, with the PS3 tending toward the lower end (8.2, 8.3) and the 360 fairing slightly better (8.6-8.9). These are the most recent numbers I could find, and I would guess that with tapering off console sales and several huge game launches since those numbers, the attach rate could be approaching 10.0 for both 360 and PS3.

7th generation race between 360 and PS3 in one word: TIE

Final food for thought:

One could argue that the Wii put them both to shame selling over 100 million consoles in a shorter time span, but unfortunately for the Wii and Nintendo, Wii sales all but fell off a cliff after that and never really recovered, and after a big launch the Wii U has failed to amass sales even remotely on the Wii's scale in its first year. Also of note is the fact that the Wii’s attach rate wasn’t as high, although that could be a function of significantly more hardware units sold combined with less than stellar 3rd party support.

Still, one cannot deny the impact the Wii had on the market. It’s highly likely we never would have seen the Kinect (and thus Kinect2.0 for the Xbox One), or the PS Move (and PS Eye for PS4), had the Wii not been such a smash success for the mass market.

Wall of text over.
 

Rapture

Member
Dec 9, 2008
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0
840
California
twit.tv
wow really great retrospective on the soon to be "last gen". Looking back it is pretty impressive how much of a mark the 360 made next to such juggernauts like Sony and Nintendo. It may be due to my age but i don't feel nearly the same excitement going into the next gen as i did when the 360 and PS3 were coming around the bend.
 
Jun 4, 2013
3,042
0
0
SA, TX
www.trueachievements.com
VG charts? Seriously?

That was my initial lookup. OP has been edited b/c the August 2013 numbers weren't from the same link I was referencing when I referred to VG charts. Besides, we're estimating counts at ridiculous levels, so even if they're off by a few million either way, it's not a huge impact. 80 million vs 78 million or 83 million vs 75 million.... or 77 million vs 81 million. Doesn't really make a massive difference. I could've just said "about 80 million" for both I suppose...

Besides, who cares where the numbers are from as long as they have some semblance of credibility? It's not like I can go out and access every retailer's database and get the actual units-sold counts worldwide. I gotta get my numbers from somewhere. Where would you suggest I look?
 

Stumpokapow

listen to the mad man
May 21, 2006
17,232
4
0
I am not sure I agree with much of your characterization of how things have unfolded. For example you spend much of your 360 launch period discussing RRoD. While RRoD was a major issue and while it did appear as early as launch, it became a major issue by late 2007 at the earliest and the brunt of the issue occurred in 2008-2009. Characterizing it primarily as a launch issue or something that affected the 360's head start is not accurate. The 360 did have significant launch issues associated with availability that you did not mention. You understate the negative impact of the PS3's launch price, by far Sony's most negative issue for the first several years.

You mention the slim models but do not underscore their significance. Both slim models represent significant inflection points in the history of the consoles. The PS3 got the price drop it needed to become competitive. Later, the 360 Slim was associated with the launch of Kinect which you don't discuss as being an important event at all despite actually marking a massive acceleration point for earlier anemic 360 sales.

You note that overall worldwide sales are roughly a tie but incorrectly attribute this fact to mistakes made on either side. In reality both mistakes you note characterize years where the consoles sold a minority of their units. The worldwide landscape is characterized largely by Sony's domination and excellent distribution efforts in EMEA regions and inroads, however incomplete in Japan versus Microsoft's blowout in the US I'm the back half of the cycle helping to keep it competitive.

You err in not diving into the role of downloadable content in terms of XBLA and PSN particularly in 2007-2008 when major breakout hits began to redefine the parameters of downloadable content. In light oft he move to digital for packaged software I think you also err in not discussing Sony's initial steps in experimenting with Warhawk, growing hard drive sizes, MS's efforts with GoD, and later Sony's day one digital program.
 
Jun 4, 2013
3,042
0
0
SA, TX
www.trueachievements.com
I am not sure I agree with much of your characterization of how things have unfolded. For example you spend much of your 360 launch period discussing RRoD. While RRoD was a major issue and while it did appear as early as launch, it became a major issue by late 2007 at the earliest and the brunt of the issue occurred in 2008-2009. Characterizing it primarily as a launch issue or something that affected the 360's head start is not accurate. The 360 did have significant launch issues associated with availability that you did not mention. You understate the negative impact of the PS3's launch price, by far Sony's most negative issue for the first several years.

You mention the slim models but do not underscore their significance. Both slim models represent significant inflection points in the history of the consoles. The PS3 got the price drop it needed to become competitive. Later, the 360 Slim was associated with the launch of Kinect which you don't discuss as being an important event at all despite actually marking a massive acceleration point for earlier anemic 360 sales.

You note that overall worldwide sales are roughly a tie but incorrectly attribute this fact to mistakes made on either side. In reality both mistakes you note characterize years where the consoles sold a minority of their units. The worldwide landscape is characterized largely by Sony's domination and excellent distribution efforts in EMEA regions and inroads, however incomplete in Japan versus Microsoft's blowout in the US I'm the back half of the cycle helping to keep it competitive.

You err in not diving into the role of downloadable content in terms of XBLA and PSN particularly in 2007-2008 when major breakout hits began to redefine the parameters of downloadable content. In light oft he move to digital for packaged software I think you also err in not discussing Sony's initial steps in experimenting with Warhawk, growing hard drive sizes, MS's efforts with GoD, and later Sony's day one digital program.

I agree with a lot of what you say but I disagree that the RRoD was a bigger issue in 2008 and 2009 than it was in 2005-2007. It was associated much more with the launch console hardware than with the later Skus. I've owned a total of eight 360 consoles. Three of them RRoD'd, and all three of those RRoD'd consoles were before the Jasper chip. In fact it may have only become a bigger issue as time went on because people stopped dismissing claims of broken consoles as the 'vocal minority' and realized that the hardware issues were present from day 1.

As for the significance of PS3's price, I don't think I underestimated it. I mentioned it specifically when I stated that Sony took a risk launching at a higher price in order to get the Bluray format into the market. Perhaps I should've mentioned the price drop, but price drops are par for the course in any console generation. For the PS3 to have competed at all it was virtually a certainty that the price would drop significantly from the original $500-600 amount.

I do concede entirely in not highlighting the Kinect and the role it played in increasing the 360's sales late in the generation, and in the digital distribution discussion towards the latter part of this gen. Of course as the above poster mentioned I think an entire book could be written on the subject of this 7-8 year console generation, so not being 100% thorough in my original post is almost guaranteed. I had originally planned to go back and edit it to flesh out those specific points as a matter of fact, but I'm at work and had already taken up far too much time typing up what I have thus far.

As for defining specific reasons for why worldwide sales are roughly equal for the two, I don't think anyone on earth can pin that down to any one specific reason or even a handful of specific reasons. Everything played a part, including mistakes on both sides, price, the length of the generation, hardware revisions, competition from the Wii, use of the consoles as media devices (which I plan on editing into the OP when I have time), etc. And I can't even begin to break the discussion down into region-specific stuff like the differences between the US and Japanese market. After all I'm just a gamer, not a market analyst.

I have no idea if digital distro affected sales of the consoles themselves though. I would think it would be much more relevant to a discussion of game sales. I did plan on discussing it just in regards to the change from previous generations, but not so much from a console sales standpoint.

Oh, and lastly you say that I didn't mention anything about the 360's limited availability during its launch. While I didn't go into great detail on it, I did mention it:

The year’s head start the 360 had over the PS3 had been marred by massive failure rates as well as extremely tight supply of the console, leaving many gamers either frustrated by broken systems, or frustrated by no system at all. Many were hungry, and the door was left open for Sony to come in.