Xbox One, from the company who brought us Xbox 360 because it sounded like a higher number than Playstation 3. Not that the name matters much—as I think Wii and iPad prove—but the name reflects the new direction for Microsoft with this console. It’s a set-top box with gaming functionality. At least, based on the percentage of the presentation dedicated to gaming, that’s what it seems like to me.
Here’s my question. Who was this event for? Sony’s mammoth presentation a couple months ago was clearly targeted at two audiences: developers and players. It was big, flashy, and provided few practical details about the system, par for the console maketing hype course. Now, the type of player was, of course, the mass-market shooter loving bunch (not that I’m not one of them myself, mind), and the amount of thought that Sony appears to have put into making Playstation 4 a better option for developers is evident in the hardware architecture. But what is Microsoft trying to accomplish?
Their presentation was just as big, though not nearly as long, just as flashy, and just as much stuck in the traditional console release method. Did they not learn their lesson with Windows 8?
A device cannot be all things for all people, especially while still holding onto the past. This marketing strategy is the past. Teaser events when there’s little to show, vague details and demos, the absence of pricing information. It’s not that console games are dead or that console gamers are the problem—they’re not. Microsoft simply cannot seem to let go of the legacy. If the Xbox One is a media device, introduce it like one.
The Xbox was a games console, the Xbox 360 a games console with media features, but both were devices that put gaming first, and were thus intended for the gaming market first. What Microsoft seems to want is a device that’s media first. What they need is a hit like the Wii that permeates a wide range of households and is familiar to a wide range of user types. What they have is an established, old-guard brand that they are trying to parley into a “this is the device for everyone” product.