The Xbox 360 is approaching its third birthday, its second price cut and its first relaunch. The approaching "New Xbox Experience" is a first for a console, akin to an OS overhaul in how it's set to change the way the user interfaces with the machine itself. Out are text-heavy menus and cool-sounding "blades," in are user-friendly, unintimidating avatars and iTunes-style shiny reflections - part of an overhaul that Microsoft itself call an "entirely new Xbox."
The price cut, redesign and focus on more family-friendly titles are all part of Microsoft's attempts to cut into the market dominated by Nintendo - and certainly, the price cut puts the Arcade model almost into impulse buy territory, attractive to Jane Everyparent who needs to pick something up for little Johnny in the Christmas sales.
Whether these attempts will pay off is anyone's guess. Microsoft is in no financial position to be reducing the amount of money it makes off every console sold, and after relentlessly targeting the hardcore gamer for the past seven years, it remains to be seen if the mass market will buy into MS's new attempts to cozy up to them. Just as the Wii is never going to be the console of power-obsessed technophiles, it's tempting to wonder if MS might not be better off sticking to the hardcore market it has cultivated over the past decade.