Well, at least they're not pulling a Final Fantasy XIII and just delaying it altogether until the 360 version is complete.
There is more to it than that I think.
Microsoft tends to require a legal agreement that mandates their version to look identical to all the other platforms if released simultaneously (Ie. FF13).
Its common in business. Take FF13 for example, if both the XBox360 and PS3 versions were released simultaneously, but the PS3 version had say... the Japanese Language track included and crisper textures, who would get the market edge?
As you mentioned, you also have to wait for one platform to catch up. In FF13's case that means no Demos, no playable version at conventions or anything of the sort in the North American region until the 360 Version is complete. Japan which is not seeing a 360 release has had a demo around for quite some time, you will never see that here.
As someone else mentioned multi-platform MMOs that are slated to be released on the 360 usually never see the light of day. There are a handful of MMOs that never got past the pricing and Live! integration negotiations with Microsoft. The Lord of the Rings, Champions Online, Age of Conan, World of Warcraft even... none of them got past that part.
FFXI being on the XBox is a great success story, it completely revitalized the game. However, considering it was initially designed for the PS2, I don't think it was that difficult of a decision to make.
When you are in the planning phase of making a MMO and your are constrained solely by the capabilities of what technology is available, Microsoft does not
seem like a company to involve in your decision making process. They seem more interested in keeping everything within the capabilities of their 5 year old system to the point of involving a lawsuit if you make it better on something else. Who would want one of their attorneys sitting in on a development meeting?
I hope they make the game the best it can be for the PC and PS3, pushing both platforms to their technical limits when brainstorming the development of the game. If Microsoft wants a piece of the pie, then it is just going to have to deal with the idea that it may not look or feel the same as the "other guys".
Microsoft chose not use HDMI 1080P as a standard for their console, they chose to make a dozen variants of it with various different configurations, they chose to make their network API proprietary, extremely restrictive and filled with Licensing issues, then they chose to charge players to use it on a month basis. The also chose to use an archaic media format that considering the new details of US FF13 release, has @#%^ed over everyone. You reap what you sow as far as I am concerned. Edited, Aug 23rd 2009 6:11pm by patient