It is no secret that ever since Microsoft announced their new console, the Xbox One, there have been no shortage of critics and skeptics who have blasted the company for dedicating a large portion of their announcement gala to the consoles ability to watch television, movies, browse the web, and other social functions. The core market for consoles is undoubtedly gaming and people were shocked and even concerned over the lack of information about the systems gaming capabilities. With E3 approximately 10 days away there has been much speculation as to what Microsoft will do next during their scheduled conference.
Undoubtedly they cannot afford another disappointing showing at E3 so the focus will most likely be about the gaming capabilities of the system. Microsoft recently announced that they have devoted over $1 billion to game development for the Xbox One system. While this is a staggering number one must remember that it’s not uncommon for a high-end A-list title to top hundred million dollars in development costs and sense this company has already stated that there are 15 exclusive titles on the way for the system, the $1 billion figure does seem about right for the cost of developing 15 A-level titles. Now of course I’m not convinced that all 15 of the titles will be A-level but the financial commitment is nonetheless there and it remains to be seen if there will be quality amongst the quantity one the titles to see the light of day. Years ago when the Xbox arrived I spoke to somebody who worked with the company and they told me that Microsoft was prepared to lose billion dollars on the Xbox program if that’s what it took to get the console into more markets and homes than any of their competitors.
While the adage is true that one must spend money in order to make money it is important to understand that much like the New York Yankees throwing money around does not guarantee successful results. Microsoft has extremely deep pockets financially and aggressively spends to promote their brand name as well as ensure that pending games such as the Call of Duty series are advertised with the Xbox logo prominently even though they’re going to be released on multiple systems.
So where does that leave Microsoft in 2013 and beyond? Microsoft is at a crossroads where they have to evaluate if their current method of doing business and game development is good enough for the next-generation of consoles and beyond. Microsoft tried to become involved with game development for the PC with companies such as Chris Roberts Digital Anvil and others and met with largely disappointing results.
The Xbox and the Xbox 360 have succeeded in large parts to an effective marketing campaign that branded the name well and took advantage of their two big drawing cards Halo, and Gears of War. All of which have spawned successful sequels and provided console owners a unique experience that they cannot get on other systems.
For me I want Microsoft to show me something that really gets me excited not only about the new console but shows me that they are embracing the new generation of gaming with something other than more of the same. I would love to see how these social interactions and multimedia features of the console can be connected to their exclusive titles. Will a new Halo game allow me to record my gameplay and simultaneously upload it to a social network while playing the game? Can a Gears of War game allow me to have a live video conference chat with players in game where I can see their faces and a small pop-up window while playing the game to help give me a greater sense of immersion? I could go on with questions but for me I want to see something new and different that makes me excited about being a gamer and excited for the products that are coming. It is not enough to simply give me good games with better graphics I want to know that the future of console gaming is in good hands over the next 7 to 10 years and that the leaps in gameplay that we saw with the previous generations will continue going forward.
This is the time for Microsoft and Sony to put their cards on the table. There will be conferences between now and launch but E3 is the time for both developers to fire their best shot and not hold anything back. Let the units sell themselves on their strengths and rather than trying to hide any real or perceived weaknesses inform the public of why they should be excited about these products and what their plan for the future is both near and long-term.
I for one can’t wait till Monday, 10 June to get here as there is definitely going to be a serious flood of activity on the news and social networks that evening and a new round of debate during E3 and beyond as gamers pick sides and hopefully make their decisions based on facts rather than emotions to avoid any long-term disappointments along the lines of what many Wii U owners are currently experiencing.