Nintendo are struggling to shift the Wii U, Sony have made their move with the reveal of the PS4, and all that’s left is for Microsoft to throw their hat into the ring on May 21st at the Xbox Reveal New Generation event where the future of Xbox is set to be revealed.
With only a couple of days to go, the next generation heralds one of the most volatile markets yet, with digital distribution, tablets, social gaming and consoles all vying for the hard earned cash in our wallets. So what stops does Microsoft have to pull at the Xbox Reveal event in order for us to drop the cash this Christmas?
Make it about gamers
It sounds silly, but both Microsoft and Sony have played the “entertainment centre” card and it’s not without good reason. Studies have shown collectively we’re spending less and less time gaming on our consoles. However when the next-gen hits, Microsoft need to capture the hardcore market and those day one investors. You can worry about selling it to my dad after you’ve sold it to me.
Hopefully with Microsoft already showing off all of their media affiliates at previous events, we can expect to see some features focused more on the gamers. Sony already showed off their new social additions for their next gen console at the PS4 reveal event, so hopefully Microsoft also has some fancy features they can wow us with.
Don’t revolve your console around a gimmick
When Nintendo announced the Wii U, the audience were left with nothing but questions. I remember thinking that all they’d brought to E3 was a new controller and I wasn’t the only one. Nintendo have admitted that there’s this stigma attached to the console, where consumers believe the ‘U’ is little more than an accessory.
So Microsoft, feel free to showcase Kinect, that crazy Illumiroom project or whatever; just don’t make it the focal point of your presentation. Gamers want to see the core console as that’s what they’ll be clamouring for come launch day, not it’s fancy peripherals.
Have games in the pipeline to back it up
The biggest problem with the launch of a new console is that once you’ve show off the must have exclusive, there’s nothing else, leaving you clicking your heels for months, praying that a developer wants to risk crafting a game for the system. Microsoft’s exclusive titles have been dwindling over the past few years, with franchises like Mass Effect making the multi-platform jump, so it’ll be interesting to see what they’ve got to offer.
Thankfully countless games have been announced for next-gen platforms. With E3 on the horizon and developers like Square Enix teasing that they’ll have something to show, the future looks bright for the next-gen, but these need to be released sooner rather than later. Large gaps devoid of new releases make the product look like it’s flailing at market, necessitating price cuts. Games sell consoles, never forget that.
Fix the Gold Subscription
Sony have scored some major points with PlayStation Plus, handing out a selection of free games and numerous discounts throughout the month, leaving Microsoft fans wondering what exactly they’re paying for. In addition to all the fancy new features available to all shown at the Sony PS4 reveal event, Microsoft are really going to have to up their game for the new console.
A long time ago, you’d pay for the quality and received a much better service. However the gaps closed a lot since then and it’s a lot more difficult to justify shilling out for Gold when the competition will match your premium offer for free.
Say no to always online
If the PR shit-storm surrounding Adam Orth’s incendiary comments wasn’t a bright enough signal, I’ll spell it out for you – we’re not ready for always online. We’ll probably spend 99% of our time connected to the internet anyway, but if the net goes down or we move, we want the option to play what we’ve paid for, and that’s not a lot to ask.
One of the things that the problems the cloud-gaming console Onlive showed us is that the UK’s access to reliable internet connections still isn’t up to par. No gamer wants their experience hindered by constant problems due to random disconnects and having to rely on a stable connection.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
Whilst the Xbox 360 has been heavily critiqued for some of it’s features, such as the value of the Gold Subscription and the increased volume of Dashboard ads (which gamers found a way to block shortly after announcement), there are plenty of things that the Xbox 360 has done right. Just because you’re moving to a next generation console, doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel.
There’s clearly several key reasons why the Xbox 360 is such a huge competitor in the console market and hopefully Microsoft have done their research to see exactly what needs to stay, what needs to go and what needs to be improved for the next console. Sony listened to feedback about their PS3 controller and lo, the PS4 has an improved DualShock.
A lot of the cards are already on the table, so when Microsoft finally reveals their hand, will they take the pot or are they leaving empty handed and out of pocket?
Expect to hear more from us when Microsoft lift the veil on the Xbox Infinity, NextBox, Xbox 720 or whatever they’re planning to call it on May 21st.