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Saturday, September 24, 2005

PS3 vs. Xbox 360 booths represent eternal struggle of Good vs. Evil

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PlayStation 3 vs. Xbox 360 booths represent eternal struggle of Dark vs. Light, Good vs. Evil

"Nintendo stole the Tokyo Game Show with the unveiling of their new controller, but they also essentially conceded the fight for the hardcore gamer demographic to either Sony or Microsoft. So how did Sony and Microsoft position themselves at TGS? Well, let’s examine their floor presences at the show.

Sony’s PlayStation 3 booth and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 booth at TGS could not have been more different. The difference between the two is so complete and so thorough that it leaves one wondering if the two companies might have compared notes before the show and planned it all out.

The Sony PlayStation 3 Booth

Pictured above is Sony’s booth. It was a big, black box, monolithic, imposing, and solid. The booth lacked texture and was in fact nearly featureless except for the silvery PlayStation 3 letters affixed to the side of it and a few PS3 display cases. This booth was a theater, and throughout the day Sony displayed trailers for their upcoming PS3 games. No games were on display. The product could not be touched. The theater was dark and uncomfortable. It was packed full like a Japanese commuter train and lacked seating or air conditioning.

The booth was unwelcoming. Booth attendants were quick (but not quick enough!) to shut down any attempts to film or photograph clips. Interactivity was not the point of this experience. Simply watching those gorgeous trailers was the point.

Yet despite the heat, the lack of interactivity, the crowds, the darkness, the booth was extremely popular amongst show attendees, many of whom stayed to watch the same trailers multiple times.

The Microsoft Xbox 360 Booth

Microsoft’s booth stood in opposition to Sony’s booth in every possible way. Where Sony’s booth was black (with a tiny bit of silver), Microsoft’s was white with green accents. Where Sony’s booth was a dark theater, Microsoft’s booth was infused with ample light from every direction. Where Sony’s booth was squarish and blocky, Microsoft’s was encircled by rings of wind chimes and comprised of organic curves.

Sony showed only videos (and a couple of PlayStation 3 models behind glass). Microsoft showed a handful of games that were playable on dozens of Xbox 360 units. Players could queue and could pick up Xbox 360 controllers.

One interesting area of the Xbox 360 booth were the living room setups, one of which is pictured above. There were four distinct living room setups, each featuring iconographic (some would say overplayed) modern design icons (the Kartell Take Lamp, the Corbusier Chaise Lounge, the Apple iPod, the Arco Floor Lamp, the Noguchi Table, shag carpeting, you get the picture). The point of these exhibits was to show that the Xbox 360 was at the center of the modern digital lifestyle and to emphasize how much effort Microsoft put into creating a consumer electronics device that wouldn’t be an eyesore this time around.

xbox 360 tgs boothThat the Xbox 360 exhibit also included an Apple iPod was also interesting and reflects a “best of” approach that probably more accurately reflects consumer buying habits. The iPod has done really well thanks to sexy design, and Microsoft is welcoming the comparison of the iPod to the Xbox 360." [more]

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