I get the impression that not too many people are going to agree with me, but with the exception of the muddied message surrounding the second hand games market and the whole ‘always online’ issue, I honestly thought that Microsoft knocked it out of the park with their Xbox One launch.
Now, before anybody reaches for the pitchforks, I don’t think that the Xbox One will have won with the hardcore gamers of the world, in fact, I’m sure that many will have despaired at the Kinect heavy presentation, but from a business perspective, on the basis of advertising a new mass-market product to the world, make no mistake, Microsoft have landed the first major blow of what will inevitably be a very long battle.
Hardcore gamers will inevitably point towards Sony’s commitment to games, but honestly, what did they really show? A new Killzone, the next instalment of Infamous? These are two series that I absolutely love, but really, do you think that the average Joe gives a toss? No he doesn’t. The Forza reveal may have been underwhelming, but it’s a name, and as long as they can back that up with gameplay at E3, you’ve got yourself a guaranteed seller there. Call of Duty: Ghosts too, while it may not be an exclusive, the timed exclusivity deal is absolutely massive and, in terms of the general public, the fact that it launched at an Xbox event will inevitably have a major effect on people’s initial opinion of the console. Did you catch the mainstream press the day after the event? Nearly every picture of the new Xbox One was positioned cosily next to the latest screenshots of the next-gen Call of Duty. It may be coming to PS4 as well, but it builds upon an already strong association people have between the Call of Duty franchise and Microsoft hardware.
Yes, Microsoft didn’t show many games, but in terms of the wider audience, they showed the important ones. The thing is, after the PS4 event, Microsoft didn’t have to show many games. Instead, they have gone out and shown the world what only the Xbox One can do. Based on what we have seen, from a purely hardware perspective, what does the PS4 have on the Xbox One? The share button? A cool idea, sure, but when placed alongside Microsoft’s shopping list of new features and capabilities, I’m sorry, but in the eyes of the general public, in the eyes of those who just pick up a few games each year, you better believe that the Xbox One is currently the more attractive option.
Live TV, split-screen applications, voice activation, live fantast sport updates (something that will inevitably be absolutely huge across the pond); these might not mean that much to the hardcore gamers of the world, to the folk bothering to read this article, but to the general public, these are the kind of things that pique people’s interest, the kind of things that make somebody pick one product over another.
I’ve heard all these stories about how current online polls put the PS4 well ahead of the Xbox One in terms of popularity, but really, and I don’t mean to be crass here, but those polls don’t mean shit. I bet my bottom dollar that if you put up an online poll on the popularity of the latest Call of Duty release, the response would be extremely negative. You know what though? Come launch, that next Call of Duty is going to sell like hot cakes, and those gamers with supposedly no interest in Call of Duty, I’m guessing at least 50% of them will be buying it in the first month of release.
You may not like it, but Microsoft have put themselves in a very strong position. They have a feature rich, box ticking console, they’ve gone ahead and shown the actual hardware and they’ve been able to hold back almost all of their gaming announcements until E3……and that’s the biggy. If what Microsoft says is true, they’re going to have a host of exclusives ready to reveal at E3 and, despite the grumblings from the hardcore, tunes will be quickly changed if Microsoft drop Gears and Halo at next month’s E3.
I’m not writing off the PS4, not by a long shot, but there is little doubt in my mind that Microsoft are in the driving seat going into E3. They may not have won gamer’s hearts at the launch of Xbox One, but I’m convinced that they’ve won more than their fair share of wallets.
Of course, many will disagree with my views, none more so than my Brashcast compadre, Ross Frame – check out his polar opposite opinion on the Xbox One launch here….oh, and make sure you check out the next Xbox One centric episode of Brashcast in which Ross and I will inevitably come to blows.
What say you dear reader?