Microsoft Defends 'Peddling Add-ons' Strategy

Following Sony's claim that the Xbox 360 is merely "peddling add-ons" to keep up with the PlayStation 3, Xbox maker Microsoft has fired back, asserting the merits of encouraging consumer choice instead of forcing components buyers may not need.

"Our strategy from the beginning was to have multiple SKUs with a very flexible offering so the customer can choose the experience that they want," Xbox 360 group PR manager David Dennis explained to Edge. "If you don't need a hard drive, you're not forced to have one. If you don't need Wi-Fi, you're not forced to pay for one."

Yesterday, sales-tracking group NPD revealed that the PlayStation 3 had sold 3.69 million units in the United States during 2008, while the Xbox 360 sold 4.74 million. Lifetime sales figures show that the Xbox 360 has more than doubled the PS3's total U.S. sales, with the Xbox 360 at 13.89 million and the PS3 at 6.94 million.

"The strategy of having a console that is $200 more expensive that has features that people don't potentially need or want but have to pay for--looking at [Sony's] sales numbers--I'd say it's probably not the winning strategy at this point, especially given the current economic situation," Dennis added.

Currently, the Xbox 360 is available in three different models: the $199 Arcade, which lacks a hard drive, the $299 Pro with a 60GB hard drive, and the $399 120GB Elite. All three versions require a separate add-on for wireless internet functionality.

Meanwhile, Sony sells two models of the PlayStation 3, both with built-in wireless internet capabilities: the $399 80GB unit, and a $499 160GB model that also contains a copy of Naughty Dog's action-adventure game Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.

Along with the price differences, one other key advantage Microsoft had over Sony was time: the Xbox 360 launched in 2005, while the PlayStation 3 arrived in 2006.