How Microsoft Can Top the PlayStation Conference James Pungello February 21, 2013 Opinion 33 Comments We here at VGU.TV love the PlayStation and the PlayStation 4′s announcement has us all riled up with anticipation. However, there is one more piece of the next-gen puzzle that has yet to be seen and that is the next Xbox. Rumors have swirled but we are unlikely to see anything official until E3 so we will probably have some more time to let PlayStation take the center stage. With that said, Sony has made its conference a tough act to follow but not impossible if Microsoft makes the right moves. Here’s how Microsoft can beat the PlayStation announcement. Focus on Games There have been rumors (via a LinkedIn profile) that Microsoft is hard at work on four new IPs and those could be fantastic for the launch of a new system. Microsoft has lacked in the exclusives department (at least in the eyes of hardcore gamers) and PlayStation did a great job of showcasing games at its conference so games are a must. Some of the showstoppers at the PlayStation conference were Watch Dogs and Destiny, two multi-platform titles, so possibly some new content from those could be used if first party IPs aren’t enough. E3 will be far enough away that a new demo or information could be shown from either of those properties. However, new exclusives need to be the bread and butter of the conference for Microsoft. Improved Kinect and IllumiRoom I know, I know, hear me out. The Kinect has done a great job of capturing the market that it was intended to grab, taking customers away from the Wii, however it has so much more potential. Rumors and reports have stated that Kinect 2.0 will ship with the new Xbox and will fix many issues users had with the original in terms of latency and recognition. Fixing some of the wonkiness of the sensor could definitely make it a more viable option in games and including it with social features (much like PlayStation’s Eye) can help match Sony’s offering on that front. The Kinect also has the potential to feed into the IllumiRoom technology that was revealed back in January. The IllumiRoom could be a game changer for Microsoft depending on how it is implemented into the market and the Kinect could be an important part of that process. Streaming Integration with Twitch.tv PlayStation’s “share” feature was certainly impressive but eyebrows were raised over the choice of partnering with UStream over a place like Twitch.tv. Twitch.tv is a more niche site that is focused on gaming culture, where UStream is a general purpose tool. While UStream will probably work just fine, Twitch.tv is probably where many gamers already are for streaming. Twitch.tv has a working relationship with the Call of Duty franchise and those games have sold better on the Xbox 360, so it behooves Microsoft to seek a partnership (if one has not already been established). This will definitely be a plus for the next Xbox and could help turn some of the tide. Rewards for Xbox Live Gold Members Let’s face it; it sucks to have to pay for Xbox Live Gold. The value is not fully there for the price that is being asked and PlayStation Plus has been an extremely attractive offering for some time. While Microsoft might still be able to call for charging $60 a year for access to games online from a business standpoint, it might be helpful to also offer some freebies. The arcade is chock full of cool little experiences that can be offered for free to Xbox Live Gold members. One of the problems with Xbox Live Gold, to the average consumer, is that what you are paying for (a better service) isn’t necessarily a tangible. Make the value tangible by adding free games or reducing the price for users who have been with Xbox Live Gold since the last generation. These are little pieces of fan service that can go a long way towards making Xbox Live Gold compete with PlayStation Plus. Backwards Compatibility and Transferred Xbox Live Purchases Sony plans on using Gaikai to stream games to the system, including old PlayStation 1, 2, and 3 games, however that does not necessarily equate to backwards compatibility. You won’t be able to use your old games and would need to re-acquire them via the streaming service. It’s not exactly known how that will work but Microsoft could have an opening to take advantage of here by having backwards compatibility. Another piece of news from the PlayStation Conference is that current gen PSN purchases will not transfer over to the PlayStation 4 and that could be a big opportunity for the next Xbox to gain some more room. Allowing Xbox Live purchases to transfer over to the new system would be appreciated by the gamers who purchased them and would make the next Xbox more user friendly. Those are some ways that Microsoft can gain some momentum against the bombshell announcements at the PlayStation Meeting yesterday. We will have to wait and see if any of these are fully utilized in the next Xbox but until then let us know what you think in the comments below and on our forums.