Shane Kim is confident and not afraid to speak his mind. We all know this because the guy loves to talk about the 360 and Microsoft Games Studio. He also tends to give out great quotes and sound bites. Reading an interview with Mr. Kim recently one of these quotes caught my eye and I just had to throw my 2 cents in about it.

"In no way would I say that Halo, or what we know of Halo today, is the peak of what’s possible. Far from it. It’s another benchmark, another milestone to exceed in the future.”

There's no doubt that Mr. Kim has a lot of confidence in his company and developers. It is also no secret that Microsoft has quite a few excellent game studios under it's umbrella. What is missing though, is just how Microsoft can top the biggest franchise - and the reason they're in the black - it's had? Ever.

“But if you look at the initial success of Grand Theft Auto IV on Xbox 360, that’s been super, and we have exclusive [DLC] content coming too. Gears of War 2 is going to be huge, Fable 2 is going to be huge."

I have no doubt that GTA IV and all the other games coming out in the next few months will be impressive for the 360, where my doubts lie is in the success of these titles compared to Halo 3. Collectively, the Halo franchise has sold more than 20 million copies and counting. Looking at the upcoming line-up, I don't see the possibility of any of those titles achieving that kind of success.

I know I'm just the average gamer, but I don't see the possibility of sales number like those seen for the Halo titles ever happening for the 360 again. I know that Gears Of War 2 and Too Human will be big titles as well as the eventual Mass Effect 2, but there's nothing coming that has the immediate pull of a Halo title. Even with Halo Wars coming out sometime in the future, I don't think the old Halo magic will be there. Mr. Kim says it himself here:

“So I don’t know. I believe that we’re going to have just as big of a year in terms of content on Xbox 360. Maybe we don’t have a particular exclusive that’s as big as Halo 3, but I do think that Gears 2 and Fable 2 will be really big hits.”

Big hits? Sure. Bigger than Halo? Not a chance. I think what I'm getting around to here is that the possibility exists that the 360 has already peaked. Hardware sales are slowing in North America and virtually nonexistent in Japan. Rumor is now that the Xbox has another price cut coming or the possible announcement of a new hardware configuration out of E3. Either way, expect sales to increase in the short term. Long term, though? The Wii will own hardware sales, and with Sony bringing out it's big guns in late 08 and early 09 expect to see the 360's attach rate drop from that magic 7.7 number that they are touting today.

This is by no means the end of the 360. There are still several years to go in the life cycle for this Microsoft console. Just don't expect it to last in the marketplace as long as Sony's machine. On the good side, the 360 will definitely outlive the Wii.