How Microsoft can steal back the limelight from Sony
The next-gen console war has begun, and believe it or not, Microsoft is in a great position to strike. Sure, Sony came out of the gates swinging with its impressive PlayStation 4, and all of us got excited about the new console’s games and streaming features. But there are still nine months before its release, which puts Microsoft in a unique position. Now the company gets to decide how to react, and how to make a stronger case for its console.
The rumor is Microsoft will reveal the next console sometime in April, and when this happens hopefully it will do the right thing and re-establish the value of the Xbox ecosystem. In 10 words or less, all Microsoft needs to do is not screw up. How might it do this, you ask? I’ll give you a quick rundown how Microsoft can stake its claim as champion of the consoles.
First off, Microsoft shouldn’t market towards the casual crowd. You know the casual crowd – Mom, Dad, Little Bro and Sis – they won’t be the ones buying the console on launch day. It will be the hardcore gamer. Mom and Dad won’t be considering a console purchase until they see a commercial in November. They won’t be watching the reveal in April or the E3 press conference. Microsoft needs to sell to those who are interested now; the gamer. Show us the hardware, games, and services. It’s as easy as that.
Microsoft asks a lot for its Xbox Live Gold service. Players have to shell out $60 a year to be able to play multiplayer and enjoy apps such as Netflix and Hulu Plus. The company got away with this because of how poor Sony’s PlayStation Network was. XBL had better services, more reliable servers, and it never had a major security breach. But with the launch of the next-gen consoles both services, PSN and XBL, go back to equal footing. So if Microsoft wants to continue to charge for its services then it needs to offer more.
A good start would be to address all the complaints from the current service, namely friend list caps, customer service, and that terrible dashboard. Its current iteration is atrocious. It’s hard to navigate and the search function is nothing but painful. Not only does the next dashboard need to be more user friendly, but how about making it customizable? If you are a gamer, why not put the games menu on the front, or if you care more for movies have Xbox Video as the main focus of your dashboard. Being able to make the dashboard fit one’s tastes is a great way to appease the Xbox’s past wrongs.
For years now XBL users have been begging for the friend list cap to be raised. Currently you can only have up to 100 friends, and for those who play lots of multiplayer the cap becomes a major annoyance. Microsoft needs to raise this cap much higher than 100.
PlayStation Plus is a great service where certain games are “free” to those who subscribe to it. Microsoft needs to add this to its Gold service. Sure the games aren’t actually free since the consumer is paying for the service, but it makes XBL Gold look like a much better deal. And it may prevent consumers jumping ship for to the PS4, where they might get more bang for their buck.
To be honest, exclusives don’t matter as much as they used to. Most titles nowadays are multiplatform. But exclusives still matter when launching a new console. Over time the Xbox 360 was converted from a gaming machine to a home entertainment box. Microsoft did this in order to keep shipping out consoles. But here’s the thing; the people buying the next Xbox won’t be those who use the 360 as an entertainment hub because the 360 already does all of that. As I have said before, the consumers buying the next Xbox in its first year will be the gamers. They will be buying the new consoles because of the games. I’m not talking about Halo, Forza or Gears of War, but Black Tusk Studios’s new IP. Microsoft needs to show off this game, and show a lot of it.
Lastly, there is a very good chance that the next Xbox will come with a Kinect 2.0. That’s fine, but don’t cram it down our throats this time. When Microsoft announces its new console all it needs to do is mention Kinect 2.0, give some specs and move on. The Kinect will not be a console seller at launch, because hadcore gamers tend to not care about peripherals. If it does this, Microsoft will be able to show that the next Xbox is a gaming machine.
If Microsoft does all these things it will be nicely set up for next-gen’s console wars. They need to keep up the message that the next Xbox is mainly a video game console, and secondly an entertainment hub.
Do you have any ideas? What do you think Microsoft should reveal with their next console? Leave your ideas in the comments below.