XBox One: How Microsoft Shot Themselves In The Foot

Three months ago, Microsoft told the world they weren’t getting rid of Kinect. Earlier this week, Microsoft announced they were releasing a Kinect-less Xbox One in June for $399, putting it in direct price competition with the Playstation 4. There’s no question that this is a much smarter move on Microsoft’s part, but I couldn’t help but laugh a bit about the positions each console finds themselves in at this juncture. What (mostly) amazes me though, is how Microsoft could’ve been as tone deaf as they were in the first place. Let’s travel back in time a bit to see how Microsoft shot themselves in the foot when if they simply paid attention to the industry, they’d probably be neck and neck with Sony’s PS4 sales.

It’s no secret Sony took the video game industry by storm with the original Playstation. Between the original Playstation and its successor, the Playstation 2, Sony sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 270 million some odd consoles over the entire lifespan of both systems. Riding on the finest of white horses, Sony showed up to E3 to tell everybody they were releasing a brand new system called, naturally, the Playstation 3. It would be Blu-ray enabled, with built in hard drives, and retail at either five or six hundred dollars apiece. Presumably, the Sony execs were under the impression that the brand of Sony was strong enough and that the system itself had enough value to justify that price point. They were wrong. As it turns out, there wasn’t enough within the first year of the system (you’re going to see this sentence again with respect to the Kinect on XBox One) to justify the premium price, especially since their competitor was selling a system that seemed to be doing much more for a cool one to three hundred dollar price lower.

The Xbox 360 released a full year earlier and enjoyed a pretty steady lead over the Playstation 3 until almost the end of last gen. More importantly, because the Xbox 360 had been out a year earlier with a better online infrastructure, it was the leading system for development. Any multiplatform game that was going to be released, was brought to the XBox 360 first and later ported on to the PS3. For almost all of last generation, PS3 received ports of popular games that almost always played better on the Xbox 360 because of Sony’s mind-numbing decision to create brand new architecture for the PS3. While Nintendo managed to sell more consoles with the Wii, it’s a safe assumption to say that the XBox 360 was the winner of the last console generation. Microsoft must’ve been riding on the same white horse as Sony when they announced the PS3, because they came to E3 and told everybody “hey, we’ve got a new system, with new technology that’s going to be sold for $100 more than our competitors.”

We know how that story is currently going, because while Microsoft is touting the 5 million consoles “shipped,” they’ve sold a little over half the number of PS4’s, whose sales are currently above the 7 million mark. So, how did Microsoft fuck this up? The price is a great place to start. I actually remember saying at the Xbox One conference, “releasing this console for $500 is a mistake. Didn’t they learn from Sony?”

Microsoft also shot themselves in the foot with Kinect. First by making it a mandatory part of the experience, then by releasing a system that doesn’t need it. That might sound contradictory, but here’s the thing. If Kinect is really that important to the system, stick by it. It’s only been six months right? Release some games, make it an integral part of the functionality and make it so that there’s never any reason to doubt why it’s there. By removing it, Microsoft isn’t only pissing off people who already invested into the system, they’re also signaling to developers, “remember when we told you this extra accessory nobody cares about was really important? Turns out, it’s not. Do with it what you want!” Microsoft’s backtracking has not only fragmented the population between “Kinect and non Kinect onwers,” it’s also fragmented the devs who would’ve been willing to use it (since everyone had one) into devs who are likely going to treat it as an afterthought.

Lastly, Microsoft being willing to budge on some of their less popular policies could be seen as a sign of a company without an identity. At this point, Microsoft is pretty much stealing from Sony’s playbook with some of their moves (price point, removing the paywall for netflix and other apps). And that’s fine. The spirit of competition will always benefit the gamers (the most important person in this whole equation) but I’m worried about the direction of the Xbox One. As of right now, there really isn’t too much differentiating the consoles from each other, and that parity is wonderful…when you’re in the lead. If you’re trying to play catch up, I’m assuming you have to do enough in order for people to want to choose one over the other, and that’s where I see Microsoft coming up short. I don’t know what that means in the long term for the Xbox One, but if this price cut doesn’t close the gap, I sincerely hope they have something else in the chamber. Because from where I’m sitting?

It’s not looking pretty.


12 thoughts on “XBox One: How Microsoft Shot Themselves In The Foot

  1. only thing i dont agree with is the part about not having an identity. MS identity IS stealing from the comp to stay afloat. Its how they originally came to power lol. In fact Sony did the same with PS4 taking a lot of the ideas learned from last gen and the 360 and building on them. If Sony would have done that sooner i think last gens race would have been a lot closer a lot sooner (even with the games being ported from 360). IMO the changes are a good thing. Most ppl I’ve noticed have said things like “no kinect needed? Might be time to cop” (aside from ppl who just have something against MS). It would be dumb for them to keep rollin with a losing strategy over “corperate pride”

  2. It’s no secret that Sony is a sinking ship.

    See the bigger facts for better contrast : Sony aren’t just about PlayStations.
    Even if the sales figure was true, it wouldn’t affect Microsoft much for being a HEALTHIER company than Sony.

    Sony is losing money in other divisions, even after strong PS4 sales around the globe and the PSN+ with ‘FREE’ games campaign it wouldn’t help much for Sony as a struggling entity. The stock price is now plummeting to a new low $16+ after the Q4 financial reports, while MS stock has been stable around $40.

    MICROSOFT’s still a beast of money to beat, sony need more than 2X of financial strengths just to get even. A 2 or 5 million more in ps4 sales figure wouldn’t matter when sony still getting crushed from within, left and right.

    Buildings, 1st party studios, PC Dept. and Jack Tretton have gone already – yet Kaz still getting a pay cut? On the other hand, never seen MS executives get pay cuts. It’s crystal clear who’s deeply in desperate situation now… 😉

    • LOL! If a deeper pocket is the most important reason for Nirvana to be ultra mega successful then Nirvana is still an underground band up to this day.

      Its talent, charisma and originality

      M$ & Xbox had none of that

      3 generations in and never did M$’ deep pockets propelled the Xbox brand to numero uno in every generation it was in.

      Its all about the games dude not deep pockets.

  3. MS won last gen and is in perfect position to win next gen.. the asians “sony” only wins in the asia market for good reason.. but i aint asian so itll always be a 3rd rate pov box..

    MS must be doing something right to get you paupers to continuely waste time worrying about the console and going around hating it every single chance you get.. shit you paupers even go into positive xbox articles just to trash and say stupid shit.. xbox must be keeping you all awake at night making you doubt your pauper4 choice cause a person confident and happy wouldnt waste so much effort 😉

    Halo 1-4 boxset that combined sold more games then any sony series by like 3x over is just a small brick in the death of sony popularity in non asian markets..

  4. $0N¥ is the real joke here. Nothing but lies, overhype and underdeliver and poor schmucks that never succeeded at real life fall for it every single time.

  5. Pingback: Well That Was Interesting 5/18/14 | Continue Play

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