It’s no secret that Microsoft has had some trouble competing with Sony’s PlayStation 4 since both consoles came out last year. The struggles began even before launch with a lot of controversy over policies, price points, and eventual 180s on certain features that made Microsoft look kind of silly. While these were all pretty bad signs for the Xbox One, its initial sales numbers weren’t horrible and now that a new SKU without the Kinect has been announced, Microsoft has a real chance to get back in the race.
When the Xbox One was revealed to the world prior to E3 2013 it was a much different console than it is today. A constant internet connection, DRM policies, a mandatory Kinect, and more made the package much less appealing to gamers and Microsoft responded to that controversy by backing off almost all of its controversial policies.
While the change of those policies no doubt helped sales of the console, it still wasn’t enough to hold off the massive momentum that Sony’s PlayStation 4 had and the $499 price point seems to have been too much of a sticking point for many consumers to deal with. Now that Microsoft has unveiled a Kinect-less Xbox One for $399 that may change with the proper moves from Microsoft at E3.
E3 has turned into the “State of the Union” address of the gaming world and each year the media briefings draw in so much attention from gaming journalists, gamers, and even people outside of the industry who understand how big of a deal it really is. While it may not always have the most groundbreaking announcements of the year, it is the biggest single spotlight for companies to shine and it’s where Microsoft really needs to kick it into high gear to turn its fortunes around.
Last year’s E3 was all about the next-generation and revealing more information about both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Now that is all out of the way, Microsoft would be wise to play up the games side of the equation more and cater to the gaming audience. The Xbox One may have been designed as an all-inclusive entertainment system, but E3 isn’t about that.
E3 is all about the games and gamers tune in to see big reveals, demos, and announcements. Microsoft has been criticized by gamers in the past for not focusing on games and for seeming to be out of touch with the gaming community. Hitting gamers early and often with demos, trailers, and announcements about big time games coming to the Xbox One would be well-received.
The $399 price point for the system itself is a bit more tolerable to gamers but not having too many great games to play on the system is not, and Microsoft needs to tout not only its third-party titles (like Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare) but its first-party games like Halo 5. If those titles are shown off (along with a lot more quality games and maybe some new announcements) gamers might decide that the $399 price point is worth it and that could definitely bolster sales.
Contrary to what the internet may lead you to believe, most people don’t have a strict loyalty to Sony or Microsoft (or any gaming company for that matter). Most people want to have fun, keep it in their price range, and get the most value out of what they buy. Playing up the games at E3 and instilling the value of the new price point at the same time will help win over some more hardcore gamers while at the same time get some more casual gaming fans on board with the next-generation (many people have not decided on a new console to buy yet and won’t for some time).
You don’t need to win over the casual gaming audience at E3 because they most likely aren’t even watching. You do need to convince the gamers that are passionate enough to be watching press briefings that your console is worth their time and money. Leading with games, giving them enough to whet their appetite, and leaving them hungry for more should be the goal of Microsoft at E3.
Sitting back on the $399 price point and turning in another mediocre press briefing won’t have the greatest impact for the Xbox One and while it won’t spell doom for the console, it would definitely be a missed opportunity.