Microsoft’s Release Date Is A Strong Move Against Sony
Posted on Thursday, September 5 @ 06:35:15 Eastern by Anthony Severino
Early yesterday morning, it was revealed that Microsoft will launch the Xbox One “worldwide,” but not really worldwide, on November 22nd—exactly one week after Sony launches the PlayStation 4 in North America.
I’m sure most of you are thinking that releasing one week after the PS4 in the United States puts the Xbox One in a more vulnerable position than Microsoft would like to be in. But the strategy is a sound one if you think globally.
Brand loyalty is a false idea in video games. Take the PS3’s poor sales after Sony dominated the market with the best-selling home console ever, the PS2, for example. And then with the Wii, which admittedly sold more so to casual gamers. That success didn’t follow over to the Wii U as Nintendo may have hoped. But if any of the big three have a chance in enjoying some brand loyalty here in the United States, it’s Microsoft.
The Xbox 360 is considered the home for shooters, thanks to its controller designed with a trigger, Halo, and its partnership with Activision for Call of Duty. And shooters are what sell in the good ol’ US of A. We like killing things and things that go boom, apparently. Or it might just be the instant gratification. Who knows for sure?
An entire generation of gamers subscribing to and making friends via Xbox LIVE, and the achievements gamers have amassed could be enough to keep some from straying over to the world of PlayStation. And then there’s Halo, which we know is enough for our own Alex Osborn’s blood to pump Xbox green through and through.
In the United States, Microsoft already has the advantage and doesn’t have to fight as hard as Sony does to win it back. You might also think that the flip-flopping of policies, the once mandatory Kinect, and other recent issues could have caused enough consumer distrust for gamers to abandon the Xbox brand in droves. That might be the case for the well-informed gamer, but they are the ones that have already pre-ordered the PS4 over the Xbox One. They are the vast minority in the broad spectrum of consumers that range from as hardcore as we are to the completely casual who are buying an Xbox One simply because it’s the newest Netflix player.
Meanwhile, in Europe (and much like Japan, where Microsoft has pretty much given up), Sony has had a stronghold for three generations. Gran Turismo alone, and Sony’s constant advertising at the World Cup gives them incredible brand recognition. Sony doesn’t need to be as aggressive in this territory, as proven by the two-week later release of the PS4 on November 29th.
On the other hand, Microsoft does need to be aggressive in Europe. They have the most ground to gain here, and have begun making moves that position themselves well for the possibility of stealing some of the market from Sony— take the Xbox One Day One Edition pre-order throw-in of FIFA 14, for example. That partnership alone could get gamers to bite on the Xbox hook. Add in the one week head start, and Microsoft could get a few more consoles out the door it may have otherwise not be able to. It’s really a good move for Microsoft.
But as the saying goes, this is a race, not a sprint. One week is nothing in the console wars. AAA games are announced, new features are added, and policies are reversed. No seven day difference is going to be all that dramatic. It will, however, give either console maker something to brag and boast about, which could give the false impression of dominance if day one or first month numbers swing toward either side in any particular territory. And we all know how each of them likes to gloat.
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