Hardware and Gear

Published on February 23rd, 2014 | by gareth


What Microsoft Must Do In Order to Slow Down The Runaway Success of The Playstation 4

I will do my best to make this not sound like a doom and gloom article because under most circumstances Microsoft would be very happy with the sales numbers for the Xbox One. When you factor in that the system does not sell well in Asia and Europe compared to what Sony does with their system the numbers are impressive for the market share that it sells in.

The fact is that the PS 4 has outsold even Sony’s best expectations and now that the consul was out in Japan, many analysts are predicting greater than two to one sales advantage for the system which may increase as Sony is able to get more units and the market in an effort to meet the overwhelming demand for the system.
There are various articles a week ago that suggested that shareholders of Microsoft have suggested that perhaps it is time for Microsoft to get out of the console market due to the billions of dollars that have been put into research and development for the systems and the fact that while profitable, the likelihood of seeing a positive return from the overwhelming investment is very unlikely especially in light of Sony’s impressive sales.

I do not think for a minute that Microsoft is ready to throw in the towel as if nothing else stubborn ego and pride which the company is known for will keep them in the fight. That being said, it is obvious that some changes need to be made as they are putting a lot of eggs in the TitanFall basket. While the game is certainly impressive it is going to be available on the Xbox 360 and PC which makes me question whether anybody who is not already purchased an Xbox One will be motivated to go out and buy the system simply for this game especially if they already own one or both of the other platforms that the games would be available on.

The reported release of a new Halo game possibly later this year could be a big step in the right direction but as I asked when the system was first announced, are Halo and Gears of War enough of a reason to buy a new system and for me it was not. I wanted to see more exclusives come to the system which some analysts have speculated may be increasingly difficult for Microsoft in the wake of the impressive sales of PlayStation 4.

So rather than speculate on what may or may not happen at certain releases and exclusive content because I have no doubt that Microsoft will do as they’ve always done and throw massive amounts of money at developers to get exclusive or timed exclusive content. As stated above this may not be as easy as it was before as developers may not be wanting to overlook such a large and ever-growing market as what the new Sony system offers but as in any business situation money talks.

First and foremost Microsoft needs to really rethink the Kinect. It is obvious that it is not essential to the operation of the system and that many users have said they could let without it. Removing the Kinect may allow them to drop the price closer to the 399 retail price of the PlayStation 4 and move them closer to being on par with Sony’s price point. While some will cite that the Xbox One is that a hardware disadvantage when compared to the PS 4, I would remind them that the Nintendo Wii did not have the power of the 360 or the PS3 but still did quite well in the sales by providing fun and interactive games as well is an easy to use platform that allowed seniors in many non-gamers to enter the gaming arena for the first time.

Microsoft also needs to clearly understand that many system owners want a gaming platform first and entertainment system secondly. Sony offers the ability to go online, stream movies and shows, work with media, and other options but this is downplayed because first and foremost they look at their system as a gaming platform that also happens to offer users other options in which to enjoy the system.

The Xbox One got off the wrong foot with many gamers based on DRM, and always on connection, the mandatory use of the Kinect, and many features that while interesting did not appeal to the masses. The multimedia aspects of the system while impressive seem to be secondary to the gaming abilities up the system. A simple acknowledgment that mistakes were made and that the company is focused on providing top quality gaming entertainment and backing it up with deeds and not words at a trade show are essential. If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit E3, PAX Prime or any of the other gaming conventions that take place, I can best describe the consile companies presence as elaborate stage shows full of talking points followed by large and elaborate booths filled with plenty to see and hear. However many promises and statements are made that turn out to be if not in accurate shall we call them greatly exaggerated in order to get coverage. Microsoft is not the only one that does this they all do. I remember very clearly Nintendo making promises it, con of certain games that would be out shortly after the release the Wii U. So much so that we went out and bought the Deluxe Edition at launch and now 14 months later, we’re still waiting for the release of said games.

It is impressive to see the elaborate and large booths but for me, the proof is in the final product not in carefully controlled demos and pitches that are designed to play up the strengths of the system at any cost and downplayed the negatives.

I digress, what I am saying are things that most gamers when they take a rational rather than emotional look at the situation should agree with. As with last year, E3 in June will be very important moment for Microsoft. Last year they attempted to alleviate some of the concerns that people had about their new system and in many ways proceeded to add fuel to the fire prompting massive changes to the system. Sony on the other hand use the opportunity to increase the momentum that they had for their system and when they announced a $399 price point many people said they could have landed a knockout blow before the systems even shipped.

This June Microsoft needs to show a clear and focused direction for the system. Of course we will hear about new games, but how about changes to the system, price adjustments, and other factors that will make the system more desirable to gamers will get to purchase one. They must also be cautious because Sony has shown a much more aggressive approach with their marketing of the PS 4 and you can bet they are not going to sit back and let Microsoft gain any momentum if they can help it and undoubtedly will have several surprises in store as well.

While the battle is far from over, I think most people will agree that Microsoft has some catching up to do, and if the PS 4 continues to sell at its current pace, they may want to make changes sooner rather than later.

About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”. He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show. He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.

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