This past Wednesday, Sony announced their next-gen console, the PlayStation 4. There was incredible hype behind the event, and in many ways, the company delivered on gamers' high expectations. As such, Microsoft sure has to bring the big guns if they hope to steal any of Sony's momentum.
Word has it that Microsoft is gearing up for a console reveal within the next couple of months. In fact, XboxEvent.com has already been registered in preparation. While there are certainly disadvantages to going second (or, I guess, third) in the next-gen console announcement race, there are benefits as well. There may not be enough time for the Big M to change their hardware strategy, but Microsoft definitely can take a few cues from the way Sony revealed the PS4.
Here are five things the company ought to keep in mind.
5. The Gamer Comes First
Instead of boring viewers with an exhaustive list of apps and a long-winded speech on how the PlayStation 4 will be the ultimate entertainment device that will take over your living room, Sony focused on the console's primary function: playing games. It would really serve Microsoft well to employ a similar approach when it unveils the next Xbox.
There's no doubt that additional non-gaming entertainment features will be an important part of Microsoft's new console, but there will be plenty of time to harp on all of that in the months to come. At the initial unveiling, they should really aim to appeal to the core gamer and remind that sector of their consumer base that the Xbox 720 was built specifically for them. What's the best way to do this? Show off lots and lots of games. Bring out loads of developers and convince the masses that their new box is just as important (if not more so) to gamers than the PS4.
4. Sharing Is Caring
One of the most promising new features of the PS4 is the DualShock 4's "Share" button. This allows gamers to seamlessly share their gaming experiences with their friends over the network. While Microsoft may not have the exact same solution in the works, it's safe to assume that the company have some other interesting social features planned.
Xbox Live has always been a step ahead of the PlayStation Network, and it would be a grave mistake for them to fall behind this time. Sony plans to step up its game next-gen with a revamped social system, which bears a striking resemblance to Facebook. Social networking has become incredibly huge over the past few years, so showing off how these types of experience can be had with a new-and-improved Xbox Live would be extremely beneficial, if not absolutely necessary.
3. Straightforward Is Always Best
Ambiguous mumbo jumbo that beats around the bush is only good for one thing: putting your audience to sleep. While there were bouts of that during Sony's PS4 event, the company was still relatively straightforward for the most part. When it comes to technical specifications, Microsoft should lay it out plain as day in a clear and concise fashion. Let gamers and developers know exactly what will be in the box without dragging it out.
Doing so will keep everyone (even those like myself who aren't tech heads) engaged. Once the specific details are laid out, Microsoft will be free to focus on the software and show gamers how developers are able to take advantage what's crammed inside.
2. Save Some For E3
Drumming up excitement and showing your hand are two very different things. Sony did an incredible job of this during their event. They showed off a handful of exciting games, the system's new controller, and a healthy helping of features to look forward to. We still don't know what the price is, the release date, or even what the console itself looks like. As such, the conversation and speculation will continue in the months leading up to E3, keeping Sony's console on the forefront of gamers' minds.
Microsoft has to be wise in this regard as well, especially if they do decide to unveil the new Xbox before E3. Striking that perfect balance between too much and not enough may be tricky, but if any company knows how to create a successful spectacle, it's Microsoft.
1. Exclusives, Exclusives, Exclusives
If there's one thing that Sony has in spades, it's exclusive first-party content. Aside from Halo, Fable, and Forza, there aren't many "only on Xbox" franchises. If it weren't for timed-exclusive third-party content, the battle against Sony for the past five some-odd years would have been far more one-sided. We know Microsoft has been beefing up its stable of internal teams, so it'd be really great to see what at least one of these devs has been working on alongside the debut of the next Xbox.
Sony showed off a new Killzone, a new inFamous, a brand-new Evolution Studios racing franchise, and much more. Not only that, but the company managed to bring third-party studios out on stage to confess their love for the new platform. In fact, Bungie went so far as to confirm that the PlayStation versions of Destiny will feature exclusive content. If Microsoft wants to compete, they'll have to counter with similar exclusive deals. As much as I hate it, it's a necessary evil.