Well, I’ve been hesitant to join in on the next-gen console war debate but after loosely following E3 for the past few days, I can’t help but say something: Microsoft – you’re facing a marketing disaster. The Xbox One is going to be a hot mess and everyone seems to see the writing on the wall but you!
Without going into details (if that’s what you want, read Kotaku’s comprehensive article here), I am irked by how much of a hassle it sounds like to use the Xbox One. It just sounds really inconvenient. I almost died laughing when I saw Sony’s response to Xbox’s sharing system:
That being said, I think a lot of the Xbox One’s less popular features are a necessary evil. Cloud-based gaming is the way of the future and game discs will be obsolete in the next 5-10 years IMHO. The always-on DRM is really only a major drawback for poor people who live in remote areas and can’t afford good internet service (and arguably shouldn’t be spending $500 on a gaming console anyway … there, I said it! I’m a bitch!).
Microsoft is really failing at creating a positive marketing message to a core gaming audience that is very vocal and naturally resistant to change. That’s because me, you, and other gamers are no longer its target market. Microsoft wants the Xbox One to be an entertainment hub and not a gaming console. This seems like a smart move on Microsoft’s part given the less-than-profitable gaming industry and the consumer shift to mobile casual gaming. Let’s just hope that the market share of non-gamers they gain is worth the purist gamers that they lose.
An example of this gamer alienation is Microsoft’s poorly chosen response to the always-on DRM problem for deployed soldiers without internet access. Technically, I’m on Microsoft’s side. It’s not a huge fiscal concern for them – less than 1% of Americans serve in the Active Duty and even less than that are deployed overseas. And it’s not like they’re taking away soldiers’ 360s by making the Xbox One available. When I was in the military, we sometimes played Mario Kart on the N64 to pass time and this was in 2006, way past the N64’s heyday! But the nonchalant way in which Microsoft dismissed the problem really irked me as a customer and veteran. Hey, if you’re gonna make all that money off of Call of Duty, Battlefield, and all those other war games out there, you have to at least look like you want to support the troops, right? Bad on you, Microsoft.
I was a diehard PS2 player back in the day but made the switch to Xbox 360 when upgrading and have been with it ever since 2005. I love my Xbox. My old console lasted me years and I only traded up for a new one because the black version matched my home decor better (what, I am a girl, after all!).
But now I’m seriously debating which console to upgrade to (if any) and it’s mainly because of Microsoft’s arrogance and apparent disdain for its core gaming customer. Let’s face it, my gaming needs are currently satisfied by the Xbox 360 so only a big change will make me pick up a next-gen console this Christmas. Here’s what actually matters to me:
Will the loading times be shorter?
Nothing breaks through the fourth wall worse than a loading screen. I mean, you’re killing stuff and then suddenly you get a waiting screen and you lose all your bloodlusting momentum. Way to kill the mood. If either console can promise me very short loading times, I might be sold.
Will the games look better?
Obviously, the answer is yes. But I don’t care about technical specs and figures. And I don’t want a side-by-side comparison of the 360 vs. Xbox One, either. I want to get to a romance scene in Mass Effect on the Xbox One and be able to tell immediately that the visual quality of boobies, both in texture and realism, is far superior to what I saw on the 360. The difference needs to be readily apparent.
Will there be exclusive content?
Microsoft has already announced that Steven Spielberg will be creating a Halo TV show for Xbox One. That’s a pretty big sell for me but I’m pretty sure it will be available on the 360 as well. In terms of actual exclusive games announced, PS4 comes out slightly ahead for me, but it’s not enough to make me want to switch over.
Absent a big improvement in these three things, I will not be an early adapter for either the Xbox One or the PS4. It’s probably best to wait for a year until both companies work the bugs out. But the PS2-loving kid inside me wants to see a Sony comeback, especially in light of Microsoft’s terrible Xbox One marketing approach.
Which console do you currently use and which one (if any) would you upgrade to? Let me know in comments!