Malik  (5/11//04)

Microsoft and EA Unites...Plus a Halo 2 Release Date

Well, it seems that EA and Microsoft have patched up some of their issues in regards to online requirements/desires. EA, in the past, didn't want to do the whole XBox Live! thing since Microsoft owned and operated the servers used to handle any game sessions online via the XBox. This, for sports fans in particular, led to the disappointment of EA only doing online console action on the PS2, since Sony doesn't have centralized servers for PS2 online games. 

It seems that Microsoft decided to concede having sole operation of XBox Live! servers. This in turn led to EA agreeing to join the growing family of Live! content supporters. This means, in particular, when it comes to sports titles, XBox fans who want to fun of online, will have some additional titles to chose from in the near future. EA already has a large line-up of titles for the next several months that will be including Live! compatibility. Besides the obvious choices of EA Sports titles (such as Madden...which sold far better on the PS2 due, in my opinion, to the online component), EA will be bringing an XBox Live! compatible Battlefield to the XBox soon. 

At the same time, in a bit of nearly unrelated news, Microsoft finally announced a set release date for Halo 2 (XBox). Microsoft decided, as the publisher, on a November 9th release date. This is good in theory, since so many of the over-hyped FPS games that will "soon" come to the XBox (like Doom 3...hahaha...and Halflife 2) are without firm release dates. On the down side, we have seen a lot of release dates, in recent days (or years...), go down the crapper not long before the supposed release was upon us. I suppose only time will tell for sure. While I know that I shouldn't get my hopes too high, I personally cannot help it's freakin' Halo 2 we're talking about. 

Sony Does The Expected (PS2 Price Drop)

Sony just announced the overly expected; the PS2 will be dropping to $149. For those who haven't been paying attention, this makes Sony the last of the big three consoles to drop below $150 (technically below $150...for those who don't like in sales tax free zones like Oregon, it is still way above $150...especially in Washington...blah!). It is being thought that Sony is doing this move in order to boost sales of the already oversold system to match expectations of local (American) game studios. It was being speculated that without some method to boost PS2 sales, US developers would soon lower their level of support for the aging system in order to better meet their target audience. 

Personally, I think this logic is complete and total bullshit. Any development studio with any intelligence at all would see that the number of PS2s on the streets in the US compared to the volume of XBoxes on the streets is pretty largely unbalanced. The PS2 is not slowing in sales nearly as much from a price issue as much as the fact that after all these years of being at the top of the game, the interested public is saturated with PS2s. In other words, if you have a PS2, you are probably not going to buy a second one (especially now that Sony will repair the DRE issues for free), but you may buy that XBox that you don't have. So, if you want to target the largest audience and you don't give a shit about technology, the PS2 is still the way to go. 

On the other hand, I do fully support the price drop for one simple reason. The PS2 is getting on in years and it is not becoming any more technologically superior with it's age. Thus, if the technologically superior XBox is a certain price, it would only make sense to have the inferior PS2 match it (I'm not dissing my beloved PS2 by calling it inferior...the truth is, it's a year or so older and thus it is inferior...). This also can help give Sony a better public image for the future (...far off future..) when we see the PS3 and also in the nearer future when the PSP hits the market.