Microsoft handled E3 with some excellent looking possibilities for the Xbox One, but these became overshadowed by the console’s industry changing features which have since been revoked much to the dismay of some and a victory for others. However, sticking with their original vision, Microsoft could have won over the public by showing off the benefits of having those security features implemented in the first place, and a more expensive piece of hardware to go with it. In the wake of Sony’s PS4 pricing, surely Microsoft could have challenged it a little by offering more to their potential audience to bridge the gap. A contingency plan to tackle the competitors aggressive pricing structure is likely to have been implimented, but how that transpires is anyone’s guess. From a consumer perspective, the obvious answer is to provide much more for the price expected to pay.
It seems Microsoft has its own agenda which hasn’t fared too well in the eyes of some, but there’s still lots of work to be done which won’t be remedied by a handful of exclusive games alone. There’s perhaps not enough time right now, before launch for any major changes, but Microsoft are adamant that they will be sticking to their £429 price point in the UK. That’s fine and dandy, but seeing as their competitor talks the language that most consumers understand (cheaper price), it’s interesting to see how Microsoft will react, especially with Gamescom’13 around the corner. Here’s some things we think Microsoft could do to re-address the balance somewhat, and perhaps how Microsoft can edge ahead of Sony with Xbox One starting with making the Xbox One appear more of an attractive investment in the short and longer term.
Killer Kinect game to show off all the new capabilities – free download on day one.
Xbox One is bundled with the Kinect 2 device which pushes the initial price point up as expected. However, as the adage says, you get what you pay for, and if gamers were to purchase a PS4 with the add-on camera then the prices would be more comparable, but that doesn’t address the issues of the PS4 being the more powerful games console – not that it matters to casual gamers.
Microsoft has done a grand job of showing off how Kinect 2 works in principle with their showcase tech demos and media access. They have also reiterated how easy the Kinect 2 integrates within the system allowing for seamless navigation of services via the new dashboard. Great! However, the main focus should be on games and how well Kinect 2 handles those, and yet rather than come out fighting – showcasing a excellent looking game which uses the new features of Kinect 2 – consumers are left with nothing to go by other than promises of possibilities now that Kinect is standard. It does seem odd that Microsoft expects consumers to pay the extra premium for having Kinect 2 included with Xbox One, but shows nothing of it in a real world gaming scenario. E3 was the time to show off a killer game to the world which proclaims how great Kinect can be, but with nothing shown, there’s little reason to suggest we’ll see anything other than the standard voice commands and gestures at present, as demonstrated via the dash navigation. A killer blow could be delivered if a really cool Kinect 2 game was made available for free on day one of the Xbox One’s release as a taster of the Kinect gaming future – and consumers just love free stuff, just look at Kinect Adventures. Whilst we’re here, let’s also see some better applications for Smartglass – perhaps combine the two somehow.
Xbox Live free for one year.
With Sony now charging to play games online, this is a massive opening for Microsoft. It seems many core gamers are already paying for PS plus, and those that aren’t don’t mind paying considering the enticements offered. Microsoft has been charging for Xbox Live for many years and perhaps is one of its greatest assets. With millions of subscribers perhaps those sales are assured. Yet we have to go back to that price difference and what ways Microsoft could address this. One way would be to offer Xbox Live gold access free for one year which would narrow the margin considerably. Coupled with its content on Xbox One first, and the two married offer quite the enticement for those looking at the figures. Sure, Microsoft would lose some revenue, but at this juncture, it’s getting consumers through the doors that’s the reality.
2 free games per month – free content is good.
Microsoft created a stir pre-E3 this year by offering Fable 3 for free. It wasn’t until the event itself when things became clear. Following Sony’s lead, two free games per month is being offered and Fable 3 was the first for Gold subscribers. During the Xbox One press conference it was mentioned that Halo 3 and Assassin’s Creed III would be offered – not new games by any stretch but who could complain about free stuff that requires no disc to play and is always stored online as and when is needed – for those worried about disc space. The second game released to Xbox 360 owners was a relatively unknown XBLA game which certainly is a far cry from Assassin’s Creed and Halo games mentioned. These are great incentives to get people on board to Gold right now on Xbox 360, but on Xbox One there’s assumption that something similar might be on the cards. If Microsoft showcased some more free content (besides Killer Instinct F2P) for Xbox One, this would certainly turn a few heads especially as the cost of buying new hardware leaves little for software for most people. Also it’s worth noting how many gamers will already own an Xbox 360, and keeping them on board is surely a priority.
A revised Family sharing plan.
The family sharing plan sounded like a great idea on paper but seemed riddled with inconsistencies and misinformation on how it would actually work. Then the complete u-turn scuppered the whole idea (for now) leaving a gaping hole in what could have been a very cool sharing feature, that if handled correctly, wouldn’t annoy the publishers or create groups of gamers going out of their way to share one purchased game with many others. The idea sounded like quite the leap forwards for digital content and it’s suspected could make return at some point in the future under the guise of a premium service. Either way, the ball is certainly within Microsoft’s grasp to re-evaluate and repackage the idea as it could be a major selling point for some and would certainly place the Xbox One digital sharing above the likes of well established services like Steam on PC.
A game which actually shows the benefit of the cloud in real terms.
There’s been lots of talk about cloud gaming and how it can aid the processing of specific parts of games as well as enable developers to constantly adapt their experiences to suit. Aside from putting everyone in Santa hats at Xmas, Forza 5 has already highlighted how human behaviors can be incorporated into a game. Yet, this is just one working example and whilst there are other cloud based games like TitanFall and Destiny, we’ve seen little real time showcase of what the cloud can actually do in terms of how it affects the player. It’s all well and good driving against cars which recreate human driving, but the reality is these things can be accomplished without cloud assistance.
Microsoft could have (and perhaps they will) showcase a game that utilizes the power of cloud based gaming in ways which intrigue the potential audience so they can immediately see the benefits. Most gamers won’t care for technicalities, only for what differences – aside from cosmetic updating of stats – appear in front of them. With the cloud being touted as a major benefit of being online connected at all times when playing, this is an opportunity to sell the idea and help challenge some of the ingrained resistances to any sort of industry wide adaptations of conventional ideologies .
Microsoft has done a poor job of selling the Xbox One right now, despite showing a strong line up of exclusive future games – not forgetting the numerous multi-platform releases to accompany them. The Xbox One will no doubt be a great console given its backing, but Microsoft needs to push its positive ideals forwards by selling the features which help transcend the console beyond its initial high purchase price which Sony has the distinct edge right now. Rather than more back tracking, Microsoft should stand firm, but offer as many enticements as it can afford. That said, they are probably very confident that all their initial shipments will fly off the shelves regardless of pre-order indications we’ve seen so far and that it’s the subsequent middle of the year in 2015 where the real battle begins.