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What The Next Xbox Needs To Do

What The Next Xbox Needs To Do

Fri 12 Apr 2013 7:00am GMT / 3:00am EDT / 12:00am PDT
Hardware

More of the same isn't enough - and always-on could be the prelude to an utter disaster

Sony's had the first of its big reveals - we still haven't seen a box, much to the consternation of people who clearly spend a lot more time staring at the space under their TV than I do, or a price tag, much to the consternation of everyone else - so now all attention has turned to Microsoft. After the longest hardware generation in console history, it's coming up to time for the next gauntlet to hit the floor. Having made enormous strides and gains during the past seven or eight years (although it may be pipped at the very end by Sony's installed base), Microsoft's next Xbox enters the fray with a weight of expectation on its shoulders.

Yet the next Xbox also faces a problem its predecessor didn't have to deal with - namely the fact that Sony actually has its act together this time, or so it seems. Microsoft got a lot of things right with the Xbox 360 - great controller, great online service from the outset, good developer tools - but what gave it its real head-start, papering over major cracks like the shocking hardware failure rate of the early years, was not of the company's own doing. Rather, the Xbox 360 confidently strode past every stumbling block because its major rival, the PS3, was tripping over its own feet and pratfalling off the track entirely. Arriving a year later to market, the PS3 was dogged by a ludicrous price point, daft, developer-unfriendly hardware, an anaemic approach to online services and a sense of corporate arrogance and entitlement that was soon to come painfully back down to earth.

This time, Microsoft will not enjoy the advantage of its rival shooting itself in the foot every few paces. Sony's overall corporate position may not be the healthiest it's ever been, but the company's approach with PS4 thus far has been intelligent, purposeful and has even, in a sense, felt quietly apologetic regarding the excesses of PS3's early years. There's a long way to go yet and plenty of rough ground to cover, and it's still entirely possible that Sony will trip over some obstacles (price point, price point...) but early signs are promising.

"This time, Microsoft will not enjoy the advantage of its rival shooting itself in the foot every few paces"

This begs an important question for Microsoft to answer - how will it differentiate itself? We've already seen a handful of leaked and highly credible specifications for the Microsoft box, so we know that it's not going to be more powerful than Sony's system (in fact, existing specs are less powerful, but it's unwise to rule out an eleventh-hour specification bump along the lines of Sony's surprise inclusion of ultra high-speed memory modules). Sony has effectively caught up in online services, and services like PlayStation Plus and the video integration offered by Gaikai technology give it a number of new strings to its bow. As for backwards compatibility, both PS4 and Microsoft's next Xbox are going to be based on hardware platforms so different from their previous efforts as to render backwards compatibility deeply unlikely at best.

In short, despite its success in the present generation, Microsoft is going to have to do a whole lot better than simply "the next Xbox - more of the same but better" if it wants to repeat or better its market share performance. With Xbox Live, it showed a fantastic ability to leverage its experience and knowledge of the PC and online markets in order to effectively "skate to where the puck will be, not where it is" (as NHL legend Wayne Gretzky memorably described it) - launching an online service and pushing it hard just in time to catch the rising waves of online gaming and social networking as they reached critical mass. Microsoft needs to repeat that feat in some form; at the very least, it needs to offer a vision of console gaming that's different enough from Sony's to make it distinct, memorable and appealing.

There are reasons to be concerned about that. One of them is the company's seemingly unwavering focus on Kinect, which seems set to be built in to the next generation of Xbox consoles. That's fine in itself - a motion sensing component is a handy feature to have for developers - but it had better not be pushed as the console's Big Thing. Kinect, like PlayStation Move, is great tech - but it only ever existed commercially as a response to the success of the Wii. With Nintendo's home consoles foundering at present, focusing on motion tech feels very much, to borrow Gretzky again, like skating to where the puck used to be, not where it will be in future.

"With Nintendo's home consoles foundering at present, focusing on motion tech feels very much like skating to where the puck used to be"

Then there's the heavily rumoured always-online aspect of the console. I remain in the "I'll believe it when I see it" camp on this - I simply can't believe that Microsoft is prepared to look at the significant percentage of Xbox 360 owners who never connected their devices to a network and say "you know, we never liked the money those guys gave us anyway". Equally, I find it hard to believe that they're ignorant of the many usage scenarios for consoles which don't involve being in the living room of a suburban home with a comfortably large broadband pipe stuck into the back of them. I know I've banged that drum before recently - back then I was in the rural West of Ireland, without a single bar of wireless data let alone a wired broadband connection to my name, and now I'm in Tokyo, one of the world's most connected cities, and I have a gigabit broadband connection.... Which goes down, inexplicably yet regular as clockwork, for five or six seconds every 20-odd minutes. Stuff doesn't always work the way it's meant to, broadband least of all. Always-on remains a pipe dream - as in, a dream of a time when the pipes aren't broken and twisted.

Still, it could happen - Microsoft could decide to pull that switch. They could even justify it by claiming that they're skating to where the puck will be - that always-on is the future we're moving towards, and Xbox is just getting there first.

They'd be wrong, and here's why. If you think about making a consumer-focused business into an early mover, so that you're already established by the time consumers realise that they want what you're offering, then the key word in there is "consumer". You're looking for what consumer behaviour will be down the line - two, five, even ten years away - and trying to make a product that fits that demand, or better again, creates it. Again, the key word is "consumers". They're your customer - you're creating something that improves things for them, so they grow to want and eventually to expect it from the products on the market.

"Always-on remains a pipe dream - as in, a dream of a time when the pipes aren't broken and twisted"

Always-on functionality in a console does not meet that expectation. Who wants to keep a system always-on? Who benefits from it? Microsoft, mostly; after that, some publishers and developers who want to use it to stop piracy and clamp down on second-hand sales. The advantage to consumers? Very little, weighed against the major potential disadvantages. This may be the wave of the future, but it's not a wave any consumer wants to surf, no matter how often we're told by publishers and platform holders that the water is lovely.

Moreover, the idea of an always-on console - if it's true, and I maintain that that's a big "if" - would underline a basic problem with Microsoft's entire strategy. Because platform holders deal with publishers (and to a lesser extent developers) every day, it can be easy for them to forget that these people are not their customers. Their customers - and thus their actual priority - are paying consumers who buy consoles and games, and business decisions must be focused on making those people happy, not on ensuring a snuggly love-in with publishers and developers. Balances must be struck, of course, and consumer and developer interests often even align nicely - but if you're building consoles for a living, your job is to make the consumer happy, even to the extent of making third-party developers and publishers very unhappy at times.

Of course, your publisher pals will mutter darkly about going over to exclusively support The Other Side, but this is nonsense. The reality is that in many ways, publishers aren't terribly powerful players in the market, no matter how much they like to believe otherwise. If Company X releases a console with always-on functions and no second-hand sales, and Company Y releases one with no always-on DRM and full support for second-hand software, it's obvious which one publishers will prefer - but if the Company X console ends up with an installed base significantly larger than the Company Y console, publishers will fall over themselves to develop games to sell to that audience anyway. Look at the constant churning of developer and publisher dissatisfaction with Apple's iOS App Store policies; every month brings a new threat of widespread rebellion (often against a clause which, considered from a consumer perspective, is a perfectly reasonable thing), none of which matter a tuppenny damn because Apple has the lion's share of the mobile app market and nobody but a fool or a peculiar moral purist is going to give up releasing content on that platform.

"if you're building consoles for a living, your job is to make the consumer happy, even to the extent of making third-party developers and publishers very unhappy at times"

As Microsoft's big day draws near, then, this is what I'm looking for. I want to see something that differentiates the company's offering - something that isn't Kinect, something new and interesting (be it controls, software, functionality or even business model related) that gives a clear vision for the next half-decade of home console gaming. Moreover, I want to see that Microsoft hasn't forgotten who their customers actually are. The next Xbox, like every console, needs to speak not to an audience of publishers but to an audience of gamers and consumers; make a great console and sell it to tens of millions, and the publishers will dance to your tune anyway.

If always-on is to be part of the experience, then it's going to need an extraordinary, mind-blowing justification; a piece of console functionality that simply cannot be lived without and could not be done without permanent connectivity. If it's simply a half-heartedly justified cover for a DRM scheme, then it will speak volumes about a rot at the heart of Microsoft's most basic decision- making.

33 Comments

Jakub Mikyska
CEO

200 1,092 5.5
Popular Comment
I think the problem with this overall opinion of the NextBox is that Microsoft is not making another game console. They are making a media hub that also plays Call of Duty.
They want NextBox for watching TV, video services, connected experiences, etc. and the gaming capabilities is just a feature. I wouldn't be afraid to call it a Trojan horse to help them sell the machine in its early years. But a gamer customer is clearly not the main focus anymore. Even Kinect fits that - it's not really a game controller, it's a great way to browse the TV Guide.

Always-Online also fits this new approach. Lower-specs also don't matter (they can always put a technical requirement that games on their system mustn't look worse than the same games on competing systems...)

NextBox is clearly the first shot of a war against the AppleTV, not against the PS4. Sony is making a true "gamer's device" and I think that they will be able to attract a lot of Microsoft's current customers. And Microsoft won't care.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Daniel Hughes
Studying PhD Literary Modernism

436 496 1.1
Great insights as usual Rob. I have a feeling that if Microsoft do want to differentiate their console, it's going to be business model related, particularly along the lines of how you purchase your hardware and software. Subscription in every market to subsidise a high hardware cost, with a high priced standalone unit has been rumoured.

@ Jakub

That's another interesting insight, and one I think many gamers would currently agree with. I'm not sure it's such a great strategy, though, or if Microsoft would be getting the timing right. PS2 worked brilliantly because it released with its Trojan Horse DVD feature at exactly the right time, and I mean exactly the right time! That's a very difficult trick to replicate, either by accident or design. How many people, how many gadget friendly consumers have more than one device in their home capable of streaming media, and are happy with their set up? Speaking for myself, I've already got a Smart TV, a net connected satellite box, a smartphone for on the go and an Xbox 360, whose media features don't even get used any more. Now I know I'm far from the average customer, but I'm not yet convinced a media focused Xbox would be a great mass market selling point when there are so many alternatives, and so many television boxes--whether the actual TV set or a box plugged in--have on demand, recording and catch up services available. Even the newer free-view boxes have on demand and catch up. If people want an easy way to access multimedia and on-demand television through their TV, there are an increasing number of options--ranging from an additional box, a wired or wireless connection on an existing box, or a net enabled television--that are very often cheaper than a games console.

Of course, if that is Microsoft's strategy, the age of the games playing audience--the same generation that have allowed services like Netflix and Lovefilm to become so successful--may be very attracted to a media centric Xbox. It'll be interesting to see how things play out, but I for one don't think Microsoft have got the timing right if they're going media centric and hoping for mass market returns in the near term--they might even be too late.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Dan Howdle
Head of Content

280 810 2.9
Popular Comment
People don't buy an Xbox to watch TV, they watch TV because it's there. It's there because its owner wanted to play games.

My biggest worry is that Microsoft mistake high usage of TV and movie apps and services for a selling point. No one, and I mean no one



Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dan Howdle on 12th April 2013 11:25am

Posted:A year ago

#3
Popular Comment
I would like a decent home games console, not a media hub. I have the tablet/smartphone for that....

Posted:A year ago

#4

Nick McCrea
Gentleman

181 242 1.3
I think Jakub's assessment of Microsoft's motives has a lot of truth to it, but like others I don't think it's a winning strategy. Apart from the reasons already evinced here, the media content available outside the US for all these services always seems hobbled, somewhat fatally undermining it as a proposition if you're not stateside.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Daniel Hughes
Studying PhD Literary Modernism

436 496 1.1
@ Dan

I hope you're right. Great games sell games consoles--we've seen over the last three hardware launches (Vita, Wii U, 3DS) both Sony and Nintendo seem to have forgotten that. I'm still holding out hope that Microsoft have had Rare working hard on a new Killer Instinct game, though I know I'm setting myself up for massive disappointment. Still, I can dream.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,244 401 0.3
People don't buy an Xbox to watch TV, they watch TV because it's there. It's there because its owner wanted to play games.

Exactly that.
I have read statements from Microsoft about media use of Xbox exceeding games, but without the games, people would not buy an Xbox for lovefilm/netflix/skyplayer. If you have an Xbox already it is more convenient than hooking a laptop up to your PC, but no one buys an Xbox without the intention of playing games. And with a new console at launch price, most potential customers will really be into games.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,166 948 0.8
As long as they do it 'right' I don't see a big problem with Microsoft's strategy to converge multimedia services, that's what consoles have been striving to do for a long time. I don't really need my console to only do games, I can use those highly evolved game features exclusively if I want to however,

PS3 and Xbox 360 are already the leading platforms for some of these movie streaming services, there were some interesting market share statistics for PS3 and Netflix for example. And they are pretty popular platforms for BBC iplayer and other catch-up TV services. Expanding on this isn't a bad thing as far as I'm concerned, in fact I'd rather they made their capabilities in these areas better as opposed to hanging onto the same old applications and features from the last generation.

Any of these companies can make a fantastic games console with fantastic online and multi-media features. Or a fantastic multimedia box with fantastic gaming features. Home consumer electronics devices don't need to be a one trick pony.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Dan Howdle
Head of Content

280 810 2.9
I still believe Microsoft's next machine will be a truly excellent games console before it's anything else. I'm keeping the faith.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Felix Leyendecker
Senior 3D Artist

181 200 1.1
Like others, I very much doubt marketing the next xbox as a media box is a good strategy. Simply for pricing reasons. Who will be the early adopters of a, say, $400 (assuming the 360's launch price) box? Hardcore gamers or casual players who like to watch cable TV?
I could see it work if the box is about $100, like the apple TV (which itself isn't such a great success story so far). But the hardware you can build for this price point won't make gamers buy it.
It's quite likely that the media capabilities will play a key role and become heavily advertised, as it is the case with the 360 today, but calling gaming a Trojan horse to make people buy a media box seems too farfetched.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Felix Leyendecker on 12th April 2013 12:58pm

Posted:A year ago

#10

Thomas Dolby
Project Manager / Lead Programmer

334 283 0.8
If Microsoft weren't planning on making the next Xbox a gaming machine first and foremost, why would they up the price of the console with all the high powered hardware (assuming the leaked specs are true)? If they just wanted to make a media device, why wouldn't they just do that and fill it with hardware that's good enough for high definition streaming and playback at a much lower price point?

Posted:A year ago

#11

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
So far everything I have read about the new Xbox, leaves me to wonder, if this piece of hardware from microsoft actually plays games. As far as Im concerned I have no interest in watching TV or listening to music on it. It comes off to me as a multimedia entertainment hub, than a game machine.

Microsoft is losing focus, Instead of focusing on one group they are trying to appeal to everyone, and in doing so they appeal less to each individual group. If a person focuses on too many tasks he becomes incompetent in all of them. However if a person focuses on one he has the ability to be great in it.

And for Xbox to keep being relevant in games it has to focus on that group. Because as soon as it stops being relevant, it will go the way of the Zune. There are so many devices and alternatives to watch movies, social mobile games and listen to music. Xbox is losing its identity.

PS4.... Most people I speak too, seem pretty happy with all the rumors and speculation, announcements from SONY. They seems to be very focused on the gamers needs and developers. "We are no longer making the living room the center of gaming, it is now the gamer." Seriously SONY.... music to my ears... WOW!

But when i read about kinect, illumiroom, always online, Games have to be installed, which means its gonna occupy disk space for no reason, it wont play used discs... the list goes on and on... I havent heard one thing I like about the new Xbox, except that it has HALO.... I want the new Xbox less and less.

And can someone here mention to me one good thing about the new Xbox? Seriously, I wanna give it a chance, but I havent heard anything I like except for HALO. So anyone can go ahead and give it a shot. I wanna here something good....

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 12th April 2013 1:21pm

Posted:A year ago

#12

Caleb Hale
Journalist

154 230 1.5
Unfortunately, I think Microsoft is going to differentiate itself in the next generation by adopting the games-as-a-service mantra, which seems not to resonate very well with people after the launch failures of Diabo III and SimCity. I suspect Microsoft will spend less time developing original IP in-house (Halo will continue, of course) and when they do make a new game, it will focus heavily on using the console's new Kinect sensor (Ryse seems to be an example of this). They'll leave the majority of major game development to third-party studios.

Microsoft seems to be of the mind anymore that the gamer playing Gears of War is just as interested in watching the latest episode of Mad Men or Game of Thrones, or at least that there are other people around the gamer who would use the Xbox if it gives them access to those shows. Microsoft's next Xbox is going to be a jack of all trades but a master of none.

I'm sure the PlayStation 4 will also be offering these other services, but I think Sony is being smart about which foot to put forward first with its core audience. Get gamers interested in your product by appealing to them as hardcore gamers. Let the happy discoveries of what else the box can do come in due time.

Posted:A year ago

#13
All good comments from people. As for the console, I do wonder what Microsoft's intentions are at the moment - with such a strong focus on Windows 8 (and the recent news about the plummet in PC sales, and possible W8 link) I wouldn't be surprised if they are determined to use the next Xbox to push W8. This means Metro apps, which would require something like Kinect to drive it from the couch.

The irony, is with Sony announcing the PS4 so early (and really demonstrating so little), if MS wanted - they could blow them out of the water by effectively matching the console specs and targeting a lower price. Instead Sony's early reveal has put lot of pressure on MS.

People also have to remember that internally MS has lots of divisions, several of which dislike (if not hate) the Xbox - as it distracts from the core MS focus. So there might be a real push to realign the console with the overall aims of the entire corporation - not just one division.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Krzysztof Nizielski
Junior QA Project Lead

34 34 1.0
If Microsoft really wants to sell the new console as a media box they are going to lose every single customer from outside US, UK and perhaps certain European FIGS countries (not sure what is the currently available on XBL in those regions), simply because the services offered on this platform are not available outside those regions - Zune, NetFlix, Last.fm, Xbox Music, Movies, you name it, are just not there.
Even something like Kinect voice commands are unavailable outside those regions - if you have, let's say, a Polish Xbox LIVE account but want to use English voice control, you can't do it - this feature is simply not there and can't be turned on, unless you create a fake US or UK gamer profile.

I've been an X360 fanboy for long, long time, but more and more I'm looking at Sony's new offering with increasing interest, and I'm not the only one.
Microsoft may lose the next gen on European continent before it even ships the first unit.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Krzysztof Nizielski on 12th April 2013 2:58pm

Posted:A year ago

#15

Gary Jacob
Localisation Project Manager

10 12 1.2
My Next box wish list:
more orignal IP - Halo, Fable etc are all below par for me. Remember the days when L4D was Xbox only?
(SCE are far ahead on this point, the only reason I'll be getting a PS4 is Last Guardian etc)

Plug and play hardware expansion options (like the HDD expansion, should have proptry RAM and GFX upgrades so the advantages of a PC are matched.

Double the POWER of the basic launch unit - MS are in a unique position now they know the PS4 spec, and could easily beef up the Durango capabilities so in a few months they will be able to say their machine is clearly the more powerful. SCE wouldnt be able to catch up and they will win the long term game. (as long as the price is reasonable and they accept a loss leader)

All in all, if the leaks are true the Xbox is not something I'll be getting - which is sad after years of being an Xbox360 defender (I have both consoles). Kinect, Win8, media device is too far away from what I as a gamer want, and see no reason to invest in a console when a PC upgrade will be a better option straight out of the box.
The PS4 doesnt really have anything interesting going for it, as I said the only reason I'll be getting one is for the IPs as I said - as long as its cheap enough ofc :)
I dont think Im alone...

Posted:A year ago

#16
So a new xbox sogan will be - it does everything but games? I would be worried

Posted:A year ago

#17
The debt that XB has generated since Bill Gates ploughed a vast sum to buy into the console game scene has yet to be returned - many may ignore the fact that the platform, in all its reiterations, has not generated a profit - just slowed a loss.

The need to accelerate the revenue from their investment in the consumer entertainment sector has seen the move to the fast lane of subscription (micro-payment) and a merger of entertainment media approach, which looks more like a PC married to a Set-top-Box than the "console" platform promised with the original XB.

It will be very hard for the future developers the benefit from the closed loop of licensed, subscription based DLC gaming - and already Triple-A game releases are expected to be halved (see Ubisoft statement). It would seem that the consumer game development industry may look a little like "..Turkeys that voted for Christmas!"

Posted:A year ago

#18

Elikem Jubey

30 2 0.1
My guess is the new Xbox will be just fine playing games offline - the "always online" connection is probably just for the media stuff which requires it, like TV, Netflix, etc.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Elikem Jubey on 13th April 2013 12:06am

Posted:A year ago

#19

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

925 1,381 1.5
@Kevin--The original Xbox was never profitable but those loses were written off years ago. The 360 has been profitably in the black since atleast 2010 when the slim launched and with all the annoying dashboard ads those profits have increased the last few years. The last estimates I heard were that they make between $100-$150 for each 360 sold alone, which doesn't include XBL subscriptions or dashboard ad revenue.

Posted:A year ago

#20

Kingman Cheng
Illustrator and Animator

952 180 0.2
As many here have said, I don't want a media hub.

Microsoft really need to reevaulate what they're doing currently as a whole.

Windows 8 slowing down PC sales, and a media hub that can play games as opposed to a games console with media features on the side.

I guess the only question left is Will It Blend?

Posted:A year ago

#21

Private
Industry

1,176 182 0.2
@Gary

Doesnt work that way. Upgrading RAM is one thing, but you cant cram in a new more powerful chip. That would need a redesign of the motherboard and the console itself because it increases the heat production and the chip manufacturer needs to come up with a new chip. Besides more powerful doesnt equal a win. The PS2 wasnt the most powerful console of its generation and the same applies to the Wii and they won.

There is no guaranty that The Last Guardian comes out for the PS4 or comes out at all for any platform.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Private on 13th April 2013 11:17am

Posted:A year ago

#22

Anthony Gowland
Lead Designer

186 606 3.3
The "Trojan horse" thing isn't a new insight - it's the thought behind the entire Xbox brand since day 1.

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-02-13-founding-xbox-engineer-says-last-5-years-painful-to-watch
"Indeed, this was the point of Xbox, that was why it was the Trojan horse for the living room, where we could land and be welcomed by millions of console customers with more hardware and better software and network connectivity than the non-console devices (webtv, cable set-top-boxes) we had been pursuing."

Posted:A year ago

#23

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
The new Xbox needs to play games!

Posted:A year ago

#24

Saehoon Lee
Founder & CEO

60 41 0.7
I dont know if it is just me. But i dont use my xbox to do anything else than playing games. This is not because I dont like watching it through xbox but it is because of the ambient noise my xbox adds when watching movies etc. My set top box dont make any noise. If next box can be as silent as my set top box when playing media i can give it a chance.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Saehoon Lee on 14th April 2013 5:37am

Posted:A year ago

#25

John Hoang
Game Tester

5 3 0.6
First off, I own 360, PS3, and Gaming PC. I enjoy exclusive IPs from consoles, but as far as third party games I preferred optimized high res pc version.

I expect Microsoft to implement something more innovative than a "share" button. I imagine they are okay with leaks about specs that is currently available to any dev, but I bet the secret weapon spec is only developed by first party. I can only speculate what it would be, but I could see it being xbox720 games being compatible with Win8 PCs. Win8 PCs with "certain AMD certified video cards". That would be a cool game changer. It would give current PC owners the ability to just buy the XBOX720PC version and XBOX720CONSOLE version all in one. This would give them software revenue without taking hardware loss. This would also go in line with always-on(only if installed on pc) requirement since pc piracy is more rampant than consoles. I could see this as a savior for Win8. Why not sell a new console to people who are comfortable with the ease of use from consoles and migrate the uprising pc gamer into Win8 by allowing them to use the same xbox720 disc to install on pc with optimizations and options for pc? This is a win/win situation for microsoft if they implement it. But again, I am only speculating. That would be my strategy to fix the not so open welcome into Win8 and the loss of userbase to the PC.

Posted:A year ago

#26

Private
Industry

1,176 182 0.2
That would mean there are no exclusives, because as you state yourself you play multi plat games on PC. I doubt that would help to sell a console.

Posted:A year ago

#27

Curt Sampson
Sofware Developer

596 360 0.6
John's point is that they're really selling a platform, not a console. The only reason they care about selling the hardware is because it's the easiest way to get a lot of people on the platform. I think he's right that it would make business sense to have a free "software Xbox" that ran on your PC and let you play those games. It would massive increase the potential audience to whom you could sell games (in particular with a huge initial boost) and bring on a few people like me who otherwise would be giving the new Xbox a pass. (I haven't even turned on my 360 in over a year, and next time I turn it on will be to make sure it's working before I sell it.)

Unfortunately, I suspect that there are simply too many technical issues with this to make it viable. I can't think of any issues that can't be overcome assuming the platform is designed for this from the start, but the sheer number of things that have to be dealt with is daunting.

Posted:A year ago

#28

Private
Industry

1,176 182 0.2
Games for Windows with its Xbox Live version for PC isn't exactly well conceived. The PC platforn of choice is Steam.

You might sell more software, but looking at the small amount of first and second party games MS has the potential monetary gain in the increased software sales would be offset by the loss of hardware sales and Xbox Live subscriptions. No PC user would pay a monthly fee to play normal games online.

Posted:A year ago

#29
"Constantly connected Xb720 - Deal With it!!

Well with the news of the XB360 online outage this weekend, and the incredibility embarrassing situation I think MS may have just shot themselves significantly in the foot! Many customers have during one of the busiest periods been left with a game machine that wont lent them access their content! With the whole SimCity issues, this could be the faltering steps of an industry suffering total brain failure from its management.

http://www.theverge.com/2013/4/13/4221398/xbox-live-outage-knocks-gamers-offline-netflix-other-apps-useless

Posted:A year ago

#30

Nick Parker
Consultant

283 150 0.5
Seems loyalty to either console is rare and us folk will buy what is best for us so I'm glad we had no fan boys getting into a rant over this. It's going to be challenging for Sony to wrestle all those Xbox Live gold subscribers over to PSN so there will always be a hard core element remaining true to each service; it's the floating voters, as in politics, who need to be seduced.

Posted:A year ago

#31

Paul Shirley
Programmers

178 150 0.8
By the time either console launches SmartTV will be in many more homes and increase over the console lifetime. This idea that network media services that genuinely need always-on will drive sales is ludicrous, who turns on a console when the TV it's connected to already delivers the same service? The same applies to social media. Mobiles have already taken that function.

Despite the popularity of in game social networking as popularised by Steam, that's no excuse for always on while gaming, for those of us that simply don't care if if our mates can't message us in game, boast about their achievements or otherwise interfere with my gaming.

Microsoft could easily have clarified that always on is only needed for the genuine network based features, that games would work without it, they chose not to do so. It does indeed look like poor camouflage for a DRM scheme, hiding behind features that will become rapidly irrelevant on a gaming device.

MS really need to remember it's a gaming device and everything else just fluff they have to support. With the spec it's not a spectacular gaming device so the price had better be right. IMHO it's DOA.

Posted:A year ago

#32

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