One Choice Changed the Game for Xbox

One Choice Changed the Game for Xbox

In a very “butterfly effect” fashion, dropping the Kinect may generate a tsunami sized wave of success!

Did you feel that breeze just blow past your window? You might think it was the typical summer wind, coming to remind you how deliciously muggy the season often is. However, you’d be wrong. What you just felt was the collective exhale of the entire Xbox Team. After a successful showing at this year’s E3 (erasing the bad taste left in our mouths from the year before) those at the company can finally breathe a sigh of relief. 2014 may provide the much needed upswing the console manufacture had hoped for.

So what is the vibe at the Microsoft offices these days?

As many of you know, Phil Spencer has become the new face of the Xbox. Any time a public flogging was required (due to a bad policy change here or misstep in management there) it was Spencer who received the lashes for all the gaming arena to witness. Fortunately, Microsoft’s prospects are looking up and Spencer gladly finds himself on the flip side of that coin (enjoying his time in the hot sun for once).

In a recent interview, Spencer talked optimistically about the Xbox One’s future. While he does give his opponents over at Sony a pat on the back, he touts that the next-generation is still in its infancy at this stage. “You look at what Sony has sold,” Spencer says, “and congratulations to them; they’ve had a great launch. Maybe we’re 10 percent of the way into this generation, so we’re early, early days in how this will all play out. I tip my hat to them…they’re coming in with a lot of strength. But this is a long-term competitive space, which is good for consumers.”

But does Spencer have a good sense of where they are going, or is he overly optimistic?

I’ve been a staunch critic of Microsoft during the tail end of 2013 and into the New Year. Frankly, seeing how their competitor flawlessly rolled out their new system (while Microsoft continual stumbled with several questionable calls) led me to believe they may have peaked with the 360. Having said that, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt (for the moment).

I think Microsoft has made some seriously good calls as of late, not the least of which was lowering their console’s price point. In fact, historians may credit this as what turned the tide for the struggling system. Forcing the Kinect down our throats was never wise. Then, tacking on an extra $100 to their price tag (making your competitor’s offering look that much more appealing) was downright stupid. The gaming community’s voice rang out with a resounding “NO” almost immediately, yet Microsoft persisted to ignore them. Thinking they could simply convince us why we were wrong not to blindly adopt the tech, was borderline arrogant in my book. However, as is often the case, money spoke the loudest. After realizing the only way to garner our gaming bucks was to give us a console on our terms, the redesigned packages (sans the motion sensing Kinect) was a crucial step towards them regaining much of their lost ground in the market.

One Choice Changed the Game for Xbox

When 2015 finally rolls around, I’m sure there will be much we can look back on from Microsoft and its Xbox. Who knows what successes or failures lay ahead for the remainder of the year. There is one thing I know for sure, downgrading the Kinect to an optional peripheral was not just important, it’s where the add-on always belonged in the first place. While Spencer maintains people “love the device” and “love the experience,” he now realizes this is for the consumer to decide. Take the Sony Morpheus for example. VR is certainly an innovative new concept that many are exited for. However, you’d quickly watch that excitement turn to rage, if the PS4 jumped to $499 because a VR headset was suddenly “required for functionality of the system.”

People are smart enough to know what they want; they don’t need to be sold. For its part, I’m glad to see Microsoft finally realized they’re a console manufacture and not a used car lot.

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