Xbox One: How to Save Microsoft's Console
Posted on Thursday, May 8 @ 13:00:00 Eastern by Alex_Co
Over on GameRevolution sister site, PlayStation LifeStyle, I recently wrote a feature asking whether Microsoft's Xbox One can stop PlayStation 4's momentum. While it's fun to debate if this can even be achieved, we now look to the next step—and that's how Microsoft can save its Xbox One console from annihilation by the PS4 juggernaut.
Below are some of the action plans Microsoft can take to drastically change the Xbox One's retail future—with a "downside" if it does implement these ideas.
1. Cut the Xbox One's Price... Drastically
At retail, PlayStation 4 is being sold at $399, while Xbox One is sitting at $499. Now that most, if not all, multiplatform releases have been shown to be technically better on Sony’s platform, it might not be enough for Microsoft to price Xbox One on par with PS4; it might need to undercut it. It’s been said that Microsoft is already selling the Xbox One at a loss, so cutting its price further might prove to be too expensive for the company, but there is one move to mitigate this, which is discussed in suggestion #2.
Downside: People might see the significant price reduction as Microsoft giving up or throwing in the towel. And we all know no one wants to buy a product people think will “die” or lose support soon.
2. Offer a Kinect-Less SKU
Yes, you've heard people clamor for an Xbox One without Kinect packed-in, and it's time Microsoft delivered. Packaging it out will not only cut the console's overall production cost, which would help in cutting its price drastically, but doing so will give people the option of not needing to pay for something they won't use or don't want.
Downside: The Xbox One's OS is centered around the Kinect. Removing that implementation might be more trouble than its worth for Microsoft. It also has to accept the possibility that developers might opt not to include Kinect functionality in its games if given the chance, which could lead to fewer Kinect games and make the device's existence more questionable at this point.
3. Don't Try to Counter Sony's Sales Announcements Unless You're "Winning"
By now, everyone who keeps tabs on gaming news knows that PlayStation 4 is outselling the Xbox One all over the world. Chances are if you're reading this, you're part of the majority of people who are aware that Sony is currently winning the sales battle. Sony doles out a press release almost monthly highlighting just how well its console sold for the previous month, which is a logical move to further bolster the platform's image. Understandably, Microsoft wants to do the same thing, but Xbox One rarely, if ever, does better than PS4 in sales, locally or internationally.
And what's even sadder is how Microsoft tries to spin their announcements in a way that covers up its shortcomings. This is painfully obvious—when people dissect the sales numbers, it becomes a bigger sore sport than it really is since it becomes "LOL11! MS spinnnz!" or something to that effect. Just stop, Microsoft. Announce the software numbers and maybe give an update on Xbox One hardware sales only when it's relevant. This constant spinning is just making you look like that kid who constantly shouts "Me too! Me too!" whenever someone does something good.
Downside: People might jump to conclusions that the Xbox One is faring worse than it really is without Microsoft's constant validation that the console is doing well... even if most of the stock is sitting on store shelves.
4. Bring the Focus Back to Games
Remember when Xbox 360 focused on games rather than assaulting your living room with TV shows, movies, and other apps? That vision of Microsoft needs to come back if it wants to have a fighting chance against PlayStation 4. Why do people buy an Xbox One in the first place? It's to play games. Sure, being able to stream movies and other shows is a nice bonus, but they're just that: Bonuses.
Downside: Nothing, really. Maybe it will upset the two people in the world who only want social apps and casual games on the console.
5. Stop Treating "Games With Gold" like a Joke
While it can be argued that Xbox's online ecosystem is better than that of PlayStation's, only the most die-hard Xbox fan would even contest that Microsoft's "Games With Gold" program is anywhere near the same level as that of Sony's PlayStation Plus service. Yes, you do own the games permanently with Microsoft's "Gold" offerings, but unless you use your console as a paperweight, chances are you already have the ancient games they're offering as freebies. On the other side, PlayStation Plus members do need to remain subscribed in order to continue playing their free games, but the titles offered every month are almost always fairly recent and cover the entire PlayStation console lineup.
Microsoft needs to step its game up in this area. It just looks sad and pathetic when PlayStation gamers get Bioshock Infinite, while Xbox 360 owners have to contend with whatever game that seems to be the cheapest title Microsoft could get its mitts on. Giving people old games as compensation isn't a service so much as it is an insult at this point.
Downside: Nothing. Unless you'd rather keep old games rather than get to "rent" new ones.