Can Microsoft Redeem Itself at E3? Game Front Weighs In
Maybe We’re Exaggerating
Microsoft’s key mistake yesterday was not being prepared. On some level, the company’s PR professionals must have known that issues like always-on connectivity, used game sales, and mandatory Kinect would be weighing on the minds of journalists and the kind of dedicated gaming fans willing to watch an hour-long product reveal on a Tuesday morning. Why then, was Microsoft PR so unprepared to address these issues? Even if it was just to say “we’re not commenting on that?” Corporate officers contradicted official Twitter spokesmen. Confusing FAQ answers were posted, then refined, but remained confusing.
At E3, Microsoft representatives will have to be better at anticipating the questions they’ll be asked: questions about the three things mentioned above, about self-publishing on Xbox Live Indie Games, about how the various feature of the console work, and most importantly, about new games. And they’ll try to give people answers that will make them happy, or at least assuage their fears.
That being said, I think there has been and will be a tendency within the fan community and the game journalist commentariat to exaggerate the need for “redemption.” Television functionality and sports games may not please the core gaming audience — some might even be displeased enough to make hilarious, sarcastic videos — but that doesn’t mean that these features won’t be embraced by consumers. The NFL is one of the most popular, lucrative entertainment products in America. Should Microsoft not embrace it, because a bunch of jaded writers in coastal urban areas don’t watch football? Noted gaming pundit Leigh Alexander makes fun of Microsoft for designing the Xbox One “for people who say ‘man cave’ unironically.” Does she realize that such people arguably compose a majority of both purchasing power and population in the United States?
If there’s anyone who has a legitimate grudge, it’s Xbox customers overseas, who won’t be able to take advantage of many of the features described yesterday. For everyone else, complaining about things like the prominence of Call of Duty in yesterday’s press conference is like complaining about Domino’s showing an ad with a pepperoni pizza in it. Who cares if you like black olives? Pepperoni is the best-seller. If the things announced yesterday didn’t appeal to you, it’s not necessarily because Microsoft made a mistake. It could be that company thinks it can make more money off the people whom those things do appeal to.
Gaming isn’t a closed system anymore. Like it or not, it’s now big business, driven by big businesses who are naturally seeking the biggest profits and the biggest possible market share. That means looking beyond “gamers,” — a term that has been obsolete for years — to TV moms and football fathers and Kinect kids. Maybe the Xbox One will be “redeemed” to core gamers at E3. Maybe it won’t. But maybe it won’t matter either way.
What did you think of Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal? Does the company need redeeming? What do you think the company needs to do at E3? Let us know what you think in the comments!