How Microsoft Can Still Win The Console War

Microsoft's Xbox One is down, but not out yet...

Xbox One
Photo: Microsoft

So, the PlayStation 4 pre-orders are currently outpacing the Xbox One pre-orders, greatly due to this year’s E3 press conferences; there’s no denying that Sony blew Microsoft out of the water this year. But people are already counting Microsoft out of the console war, and giving the W to Sony. But the masses seem to be forgetting one thing: there are still five months until November, and a lot can happen in five months.

What can Microsoft do to get the majority of gamers to buy their console, which is $100 more, has to be online once every 24 hours, and imposes new restrictions on the pre-owned games market? There are a number of things that Microsoft can and should do to win back gamers that have jumped ship during this year’s E3.

Microsoft needs to give gamers a reason why they are paying $100 more than the PS4. One of the Xbox One’s biggest flaws is its higher price tag. But even worse than the fact that the Xbox One has a higher price tag, is the fact that Microsoft hasn’t really justified it yet. We can fully expect Microsoft to not lower the price tag of the new console because, well, they’re too proud. But, we can expect them to sweeten the deal. I have no doubts that Microsoft has a few tricks up their sleeves still; I mean, the Xbox One doesn’t launch until November, right? Do you expect Microsoft to stay quiet for the next five months, especially since they’re currently losing the war?

The company needs a huge announcement, and they need it within the next few weeks, before even more people start pre-ordering the PlayStation 4. I’m not sure what exactly would quench the typical gamer’s thirst for more, but that is why Microsoft has a large marketing department, right?

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Microsoft should attack the PS4 at its weak spot: the PS4’s controller. There’s quite a few differences between the Xbox One’s controller and the PlayStation 4 controller, but the biggest difference is probably in the size. Anyone who has held both controllers in their hands can definitely feel the size difference. The Xbox One’s controller felt like a controller should; ergonomically correct and weighty. The PS4’s controller, however, is way too small and way too light; I felt like I was going to snap it in half while playing. The Xbox One controller allegedly has 40 new innovations from the Xbox 360 controller.

If Microsoft can come up with some creative advertising focusing on why their new controller is superior to PlayStation’s new controller, than they will surely gain back some fans.

Microsoft needs to explain why gamers need the Xbox One’s features NOW, as opposed to in the future. Many analysts are stating that Sony is focusing on the “now” with the PS4, while Microsoft is too focused on the future of gaming. Microsoft should show gamers WHY they need the Xbox One now, instead of later. Think about spending $399 on something you’re only going to use for a couple of years, as opposed to spending $499 on something you’re going to be using for at least five or six years (and probably longer). That extra $100 is starting to make a little more sense, isn’t it? If Microsoft can relay to the user why their console will leave the PS4 in the dust and be superior in three years from now, we can expect some sensible gamers to make the switch back to the Xbox One.

Microsoft should break out some household internet statistics to calm the critics (this will help stop the spreading of negativity). People might not realize just how many people in the U.S. Market don’t have internet. As of November 2012, 20% of American households didn’t have internet access. Okay, so how many of that percentage are actually gamers and would be buying their console anyway? I don’t think the number is quite as staggering, percentage-wise, as the general public is thinking, but then again, I might be wrong. I doubt it, though, since Microsoft wouldn’t just blindly exclude a large percentage of potential buyers; I’m sure the company has done their research.

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The company needs to change their indie policies. Microsoft is greatly hindering another important aspect of the current trends of gaming: indie developers. Microsoft stated that, unlike with Sony, indie games will not be self-published, and will continue to go through Microsoft’s indie gauntlet of approval before being released. This year has seen incredible success with indie games, such as The Cave, and most recently State of Decay. It’s a big problem to many gamers that like indie games, especially because indie games are cheaper than most games that hit retail. Indie game companies will now start leaning towards Sony, which will allow developers to self-publish games. Microsoft needs to do everything within their power to stop indie developers from also jumping ship, and the only answer appears to be to let independent developers publish their own titles.

Microsoft needs to announce some key partnerships. The opportunity to partner with the major game developers or publishers has probably passed at this point, since the major games of the year have been announced. So, Microsoft should start looking at alternative partnerships, such as partnerships for free TV content from major networks and/or companies. If Microsoft can partner with an HBO or Showtime, or further their relationships with NFL and UFC to get free content from them throughout the console’s first year. For example, Microsoft could use free pay-per-view UFC fights throughout the year to gain more fans; I know that if I could watch a few free UFC cards on my Xbox One that I’d be more likely to purchase it (as I wouldn’t have to buy the pay-per-view fights). Open up your wallet, Microsoft, and start looking for a key partnership.

As many people are canceling their cable subscriptions because of the high costs and switching to alternatives like Netflix, Hulu, etc, what better way for Microsoft to capitalize on this opportunity by sweetening the pot for the Xbox One? I know, I know; gamers want a gaming console, but more content that adds value to your product is never a bad idea.

The company should show Kinect games that are targeted to adults. As of right now, gamers are looking at the new Xbox Kinect the same way as they see the Xbox 360 Kinect: my kid might like it, but it doesn’t do much for me. Gamers thought they were going to see some hardcore Kinect titles this go-round with Microsoft, especially when Ryse (originally shown a few years ago as a kinect title) was shown on this year’s E3 stage. But, we’re learning that Ryse might actually focus more on using the controller now that it has moved to next-gen. So, what games does that leave hardcore fans? None. I have literally no interest in Just Dance 4 or Fantasia: Music Evolved, and neither does the average target audience (males 15-35). So, why should I HAVE TO pay for a Kinect (they’re included with all Xbox One consoles, hence the higher price tag than the PS4). Show me why, and I just might.

Before you accuse me of being a Microbot, I can tell you if things stay how they are right now, I WILL be making the switch to PS4, as many other gamers have already decided to do. But, I’m not making the switch just yet. Microsoft claims it’s a long road to November, and says they aren’t done yet. So, I’m anxious to see what Microsoft has up their sleeves, if anything.

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What are your thoughts on the console war? Does Microsoft stand any chance of surviving? Sound off below in the comments!

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