The general consensus online seems to be panic and scrambling to find a way to condemn the Xbox One to a quick death because of the laser-sharp focus that Microsoft showed towards the Xbox One being a home entertainment console, not just a game console, earlier this week. We’ve seen our share of controversies large and small over the span of this generation of consoles being unveiled. The PlayStation 4 reveal didn’t show enough exclusives or show the console and also didn’t feature any women at the presentation. The Wii U was too focused on established names and didn’t bring anything new to the table. The Xbox One doesn’t care about games.
We’ve basically heard it all when it comes to complaints about this generation of consoles, which the Wii U, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One belong to. Now is the Xbox One’s turn to be barraged with insults and hate, deserved and not deserved.
What many gamers don’t seem to understand is that a lot can be gleaned from the disappointing sales of the Nintendo Wii U. Many have pointed to the lack of games for the new console, including a lack of “killer app” from Nintendo like with the Wii and the lack of third party support. The reality here is that most game consoles have rather disappointing offerings around the time of the system’s launch. I couldn’t name a truly exciting lineup of games for the PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, PlayStation 3, Wii or Xbox 360 even if I tried. Every system had some highlights, but had some serious lowlights as well. In light of that, most of them still sold pretty well and the Wii U is simply not performing up to expectations right now, while home electronics gadgets like iPads and other tablets fly off of store shelves.
The market is rapidly changing and game consoles might not be on everyone’s wishlist right now compared to ultra-mobile devices like tablets, even if the gaming offerings on them are weak at best. This isn’t 1992 anymore where game consoles just need to play games, which we’ve seen develop as virtually all home consoles now have to compete with Smart TVs in featuring a full multimedia experience otherwise be shut out of consumers’ televisions altogether. Things are not going to get easier for game consoles and as much as it might pain some to say, Microsoft is being forward thinking with the Xbox One.
It might have some weird features that seem superfluous at best, but routing your television through your Xbox One means that you are using your Xbox One more, watching Netflix on your Xbox One means that you are using your Xbox One more, the same can be said for watching live sports or even using Skype through it. No, it may not related directly to games, but Microsoft is not trying to convince the hardcore gamer to buy their game console, because they know that there is already an audience there who will buy game consoles to play games no matter what. They are going after that elusive crowd of consumers that have disposable income and are looking to buy the next hot gadget.
Not so long ago the Nintendo Wii was that hot gadget, serving a very broad group of consumers with pure, unadulterated fun for a lower price than most of the competition. Microsoft is looking to capture an audience beyond just gamers with the Xbox One, but no, they probably haven’t forgotten you, which is what E3 will be about. As most of you know, there is a “console war” raging and this is Microsoft’s tactic to attempt to win it, like it or not.
We are all invested in video games because we love them and do not want them to go away. With the looming threat of consumer electronics devices that show a lot of flash and little value on the horizon, this might be the right strategy to keep game consoles alive and relevant.