I know that many of us out there cannot fathom the idea of Microsoft’s always on feature actually making it into their next console. As a matter of fact, I felt the exact same way for a very long time, until recently that is. You see, I’ve come to realize that the video game industry, especially the console market, is becoming an extremely volatile business. Games are getting more and more expensive to make every year and (inflation considered) since game prices are staying the same; games are getting cheaper and cheaper.
So I started to ask myself, if I were the head of a multi million dollar company in charge of one of the big three consoles, what would I do? Then it hit me; I would do exactly what Nintendo did almost seven years ago. Nintendo sought out, and tapped into a market that no one even knew existed. Casual gamers did not exist as a class of gamer before the Wii found itself in the living rooms of millions of consumers. This led both Microsoft and Sony to chase after this market of consumers that, before the Wii, was completely overlooked by them.
Microsoft developed the Kinect which, let’s face it folks, was a joke. Sure it had a handful of good games, but it reached its pinnacle with Dance Central; and Sony’s Move? Let’s not even go there. My point is that there are enough gamers out there for all three companies to appeal to. While Nintendo is currently struggling with their Wii U, mostly due to marketing failures, Sony has redirected and is focusing on what they do best, video games. They are once again appealing to the hardcore gamers out there, and Nintendo is still pushing for the family friendly games as they always have. But where does that leave Microsoft?
I’ll tell you where: Online. No one can argue that if you want the best online multiplayer experience, your console of choice is the Xbox 360. In 2012, the amount of Xbox Live users that were registered broke 40 million. In one year’s time, that number rose by almost 18 percent to over 46 million registered Xbox Live members. During this same time, Microsoft’s console sales actually dropped by about 9 percent.
Think about this for a second now, if Microsoft has over 40 million customers who are registered on Xbox Live and only one percent of these users buy an Xbox 720 or Durango, or whatever it’ll be named, that’s 400,000 units. One percent! And for these consumers, always-on will not be a problem because Microsoft already knows that they constantly have internet connections anyway.
If the new Xbox Always On feature is to work, Microsoft would have no choice but to dig their heels in and make a hardcore push to their Xbox Live users. They would have to push multiplayer games, not to mention the benefits of having an entertainment machine that not only plays games, it also allows you to Kinect with friends, watch exclusive hit television shows, give access to a plethora of sports games that you wouldn’t have access to anywhere else.