Virgin on the offensive for 360 and PS3

Opinion: Tim Ingham is ready for Richard Branson's revolution...

It's the teeth. Those wing-mirror gnashers. They say you can not only see your face in them - but your declining revenues, too.

Not everything Richard Branson touches turns to gold, of course. You only need reach for your non-existent, Pammy Anderson-shaped bottle of cola to see that. (Maybe if Virgin had chosen Tommy Lee's equally famous X-rated silhouette, they'd have had more success).

But the goatee-sporting squillionaire is the undisputed master of knowing when to get into something - and when to get out. (We're not still talking about Pammy and Tommy here, by the way).


In 2007, he took the shock step of selling up his Virgin Megastores business, including its world-beating flagship London store. Many commentators damned his decision - saying he was prematurely cowering from the 'digital revolution'.

Just over a year later - on Christmas Eve - the chain's replacement, Zavvi, went bust. The hollow carcass of that once-thriving retail behemoth still sucks the energy out of Oxford Street.

This morning, we learned Branson had taken a similarly 'out of the blue' stride into the video games industry - with MCV reporting that the follicly-bountiful supremo is set to sprinkle his own daredevil glitz on E3 next month. There's good reason to believe that Branson's timing is, once again, impeccable.

CVG readers were left excited by this morning's news - expressing a deep nostalgia for the heady days of Virgin Interactive. (Very much seen in industry circles as the 'good old boys' of the '90s Britsoft party).

Some of you thought small: Perhaps a new Screamer, or Cool Spot, or Dune. Some were a little more ambitious: Could Branson soon dominate XBLA or PSN with his fresh digital assault?

Some of you just had fun with the idea... how very Virgin of you.

(Adgr19 is surely the winner here: '[Branson will get to E3] and realise there's no cables going into the venue... you'll not hear anything for 2 months... then someone will turn up randomly on a Thursday at 11:30. You won't be in so they'll leave a note.')

I somehow doubt Sony and Microsoft giggled along. Because as cuddly as the idea of Virgin getting back into games is for you lot, it represents a very serious threat to the dominance of the current online kings of the console market.

CVG reader Sonic_Freak said this morning that he "wants a Virgin console". The reason Xbox and PlayStation will be squirming? You probably already own one.

Over the last few years, MS and Sony have been happy to play platitudes with the set-top box mob - even adopting their content, with evolutions like the 360's Sky Player.

Microsoft in particular has refused to acknowledge either Sky or Virgin as a direct competitor - and, believe me, we've asked the question countless times. Yet on the other hand, the firm's keen to let all and sundry know that Xbox isn't just a games console - it's an 'entertainment hub'.

Likewise, PS3 offers a fantastic BBC iPlayer, streaming movies and internet browsing functionality. Oh, and video games.

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