Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Opening Salvos

Using the analogy that PS4 and Xbox One are dueling battleships, we could think of the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo as the first broadsides in what will undoubtedly be the main engagement of this upcoming console generation.  Obviously, tactics play a big part, but so does overall strategy and even basic design.

I think we can all agree that it was a good day
for black rectangles 
Lets talk briefly about the box makers themselves, shall we?  It's important to note that Microsoft is, at heart, a software company while Sony has traditionally been a hardware manufacturer.  You might be tempted to conclude from those facts alone that it's no surprise Sony is ahead right now, but remember that their obsession with the PS3 cell processor led to a lot of headaches for game development down the road. Conversely, Microsoft has had reliability issues with a number of their early model Xbox 360s.

Taking on a more macro view, I think Sony pulled a rather clever ruse leading up to the big press events at E3 in Los Angeles.  Going in, there were a lot rumors that Sony would follow suit with Xbox One's DRM schemes, but as it turned out this was a big pile of falsehoods.  Couple the deception with PS4's $100 cheaper price tag and you have a brutal one-two-punch against Microsoft.  Now, there's still things Xbox One can do though.  Subsidized price plans, early release dates and lots of exclusive content would ensure that the console war is far from over.  That said, there's one really huge factor that could spell doom from Xbox One - demographics.

The only Xbox One exclusive
that really caught my attention
A lot of American gamers tend to forget the Xbox 360 really only outsold PS3 in the USA.  Europe and Asia are smaller markets, but the fact remains PS3 dominated in these regions.  The result is Sony catering to a much wider international audience while Microsoft feels like it is contracting in terms of core customers.  Still, there are a lot of people who enjoy sports TV and games as well as online focused first person shooters.  However, I don't believe these "Dude-Bro" gamers make up the majority.  If anything Microsoft needs to cast a wider net.   I'll give you a hint, securing stuff like Titanfall isn't going to do it.  That game really only appeals to the aforementioned Dude-Bro player base.

What we are left with is a situation in which Microsoft could very well go the way of Nintendo and the Wii-U, clinging to a small market share of hardcore fans.  I guess you could say Microsoft came into this expecting a stand up big gun fight and instead got torpedoed.  Maybe they can contain the flooding with skilled damage control, but the fact remains the waters around Xbox One are seeded with mines.  

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