Can Microsoft Redeem Itself at E3? Game Front Weighs In
Understanding What the Audience Wants
Everything about Microsoft’s presentation made a certain kind of business sense, but at every step of the way, I was kind of flabbergasted at the arrogance presented by what seemed like totally ignoring what customers want out of a console gaming experience. It’s as if Microsoft hasn’t noticed a single controversy regarding used games sales, privacy concerns or Internet connectivity for the last three years, in any tech space. In picking the path of its own maximum self-interest, it bumbled into a buzz saw of upset consumers who have said time and again that many things that are best for console makers and publishers don’t make them want to buy consoles or games.
Microsoft might start to fix things by backing down the arrogance in assuming that everyone will flock to its console regardless of whether it lets you borrow games or points a camera into your house that links directly to Microsoft servers. Then it might try thinking about why its consumers don’t like these ideas. And then it might back these policies down and find a compromise between keeping customers happy and maximizing its profits.
Expecting Microsoft to make business decisions that don’t benefit it just because they would make me happier might be a pipe dream when it comes to the Xbox One (and reality at large), but I also don’t have to buy an always-on used game-blocking surveillance camera-for-a-console either, and at this early stage, that’s what Xbox One seems to be. Redemption, in my mind, requires the Xbox One to demonstrate some real value to me and not just Microsoft, and take away my concerns with clear policies that are not wholly negative for the consumer. I’m still the customer, and I can take my gaming dollar lots of other places — Microsoft might try remembering that.
Microsoft’s conference was bad because it seemed to show a fundamental misunderstanding of gamers. In aiming for the casual market, they are shooting their core market in the foot, which is something that never plagued Nintendo’s move towards casual thanks to their previous commitment to “the everyman.” If Microsoft wants me to be excited for their console, they need to do two things: show off some more games, especially first party ones, and make it clear that the game-related features aren’t there to tighten a noose around my neck. The best way to win me over would be to show that always-online provides actual value, such as being able to download your games onto any system or save to the cloud. I doubt it will happen, though; Microsoft’s reveal showed a complete lack of interest in the budget-minded gamer like me. It would take a seriously impressive game reveal for them to be redeemed in my eyes.
Standing Apart from the Competition
A major deciding factor between a PS3 player and an Xbox 360 player has always been the exclusive titles. The 15 promised exclusive launch window titles need to be Microsoft’s hidden ace if it hopes to turn its laughable high card into a royal flush. Of the 15, eight are new IPs, and these titles need to blow us away. Microsoft will have to bring outs its best marketing efforts to ensure these games are revealed and promoted in the most exciting and memorable way possible — you know, to remind us that they’re selling a gaming console and not a TV accessory.
Oh, and Microsoft will also have to reveal that the name Xbox One was a joke.
The Xbox One lived up to the rumors regarding its hardware…which is to say that everything seems rather pedestrian. The “five billion transistors” marketing hype that was used during the presentation should get plenty of yawns from the enthusiast PC crowd. Your average quad-core desktop CPU and GPU combo – say, an Intel Core i7-3770K and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 – have over five billion transistors between them. Virtually any gaming PC built within the last 2-3 years will hit that number, in fact, so
Games on the Xbox One are going to look great, and the same can be said about the PlayStation 4 — they’re using roughly the same hardware, after all. But like console releases past, the PC will meet or exceed those hardware specs at launch, thus ensuring the survival of the PC Gaming Master Race. 8 GB of RAM and a DirectX 11-friendly video card? Those were bleeding edge in 2009.
With that all said, this is a console that is leagues above the last console hardware released in 2005-06, which means games will look comparatively fantastic at 1080p/30 and 1080p/60. The E3 redemption is two-fold for me: Launch titles that captivate, and thorough, headache-free indie dev support that includes seamless multi-platform options (Xbox, Windows 8/RT, Windows Phone).