Over the past few months a number of shocking stories have come out of Microsoft that may have some bearing on the future of the XBox. Major games have been cancelled such as Mythica, most recently True Fantasy Online, and the XSN sports line up for 2004. There have also been rumors that the next XBox won’t have a hard drive or may be some PC/Console hybrid. And Microsoft has been releasing tools that will make it possible to use XBox Live in PC games.
There certainly hasn’t been any announcement about the demise of the XBox as yet. But these developments do speak of a move away from single mindedly backing the XBox as the major gaming platform from Microsoft. It almost looks like a retreat into supporting the PC as a gaming platform. If so, it would be true to form for Microsoft to promote that which moves copies of Windows and Office, their two biggest money makers and the source of their power.
PC gaming has been on the decline in terms of sales for a while now. Though there has been a growing popularity of high end gaming PCs, enough that Dell is even offering gamer oriented PCs at a premium of course. Still, I don’t see this profitable niche segment reversing the growth of console gaming. I hope I’m wrong, but it may well be that Microsoft now sees PC games as a way move more copies of Windows and perhaps pull XBox gamers back to the PC.