It's about power
Microsoft (MSFT) has been battling against Sony (SNE) and Nintendo (NTDOF) for gamers’ attention since the original Xbox launched in 2001. The software giant-turned-console-manufacturer evolved from underdog to major player with the Xbox 360 in 2005. Microsoft has sold over 77 million Xbox 360s globally since launch, which is neck-and-neck with Sony’s 77 million PlayStation 3s sold to date. (Nintendo is in the lead for current generation console sales with over 100 million Wiis sold worldwide.)
Microsoft has a lot of work to do in the court of gamers’ opinions when it comes to the Xbox One, which launches in November for $500. The company has flip-flopped with its controversial features that would have limited used game playback, eliminated game rentals and prevented gamers from playing games offline. There’s still plenty of time to win over gamers and the more mainstream consumers that Microsoft courted at its Xbox One reveal with its focus on the new entertainment features the next generation console opens up. Here are five reasons Microsoft will win the console war.
This first-person shooter from Bungie has sold over 50 million copies worldwide. The transition to developer 343 Industries has been smooth with Halo 4 (shown above) selling $300 million worth of games in one week last year. Microsoft has its first Xbox One Halo game coming in 2014 and Steven Spielberg is developing a live action Halo TV series for Xbox Live based on the sci-fi franchise. This is the type of “killer app” that both hardcore and more mainstream gamers will invest in a new console for.
Microsoft has sold over 25 million Kinects as an add-on for the Xbox 360, ushering in “controller-less” engagement with games. Kinect 2 will come packed inside every Xbox One (hence the extra $100 price point over the PS4, which will sell its PS4 Camera separately for $60). This bundle is important as publishers and developers will be more apt to support the device, something that has been lacking on the 360. Microsoft also has big plans for the entertainment functionality of the new and improved Kinect, which can recognize and track multiple family members’ faces and expressions and even gauge your heart rate.
Respawn swept the prestigious Game Critics Best of E3 Awards this year, emerging as Best of Show in a crowded field. Microsoft has an exclusive window for this new sci-fi shooter to appear on Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Windows PC first when it launches in 2014. The developer behind the Call of Duty franchise is offering a multiplayer experience that features 24-foot-tall Titans and elite and agile human pilots battling across a sci-fi setting that features huge interactive action set pieces. Hardcore gamers who can’t wait for this title could make the leap to Xbox One to experience the next gen experience.
Over 17 million gamers have downloaded SmartGlass for Xbox 360 and a common trend across all publishers at E3 this year was developing second screen experiences for both the 360 and Xbox One. Microsoft is integrating this technology, which works with almost any tablet or smartphone, into both its entertainment experiences and games. Capcom’s Xbox One exclusive Dead Rising 3 online zombie game allows players to call in an artillery strike using Smartglass, while Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag uses the technology to unlock maps that can be used to find new treasures in the game world. The future looks bright for this technology, which gives friends who are watching the game something to do.
One reason Microsoft focused so heavily on the entertainment capabilities of the new Xbox One is because the game company is targeting the growing number of mainstream gamers that have been entering the space over the last decade. The Kinect 2 eliminates the need for a remote control, allowing consumers to simply say “What’s on HBO?” to pull up a channel guide and choose a show like Game of Thrones. In tandem with SmartGlass, additional information on entertainment can be accessed and fans can sync with shows they stream off the growing number of Hollywood studios and TV networks that support Xbox Live Marketplace. Microsoft also will be offering original programming, seamless transition from games to movies, and support for Skype and other apps.
Don’t agree? Check out 5 reasons the Playstation 4 will crush the competition.