Microsoft is trailing behind their main competitor Sony in the video game console market, and they’re looking towards the E3 conference in Los Angeles next month to turn things around. Will it be enough?
Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft’s Xbox division, as well as the official Xbox Twitter have appeared seriously optimistic about their upcoming performance at this year’s conference.
And yes, it’s a performance. Like their competitors Nintendo and Sony at E3 as well as Apple’s Keynote speeches, these unveilings present shiny new things told with twists and turns that can make the audience gasp with shock and awe. But with the territory of performance comes criticism.
Critics and gamers alike found the previous two conferences by Microsoft totally underwhelming. While sales of the Xbox One spiked last holiday season, Sony quickly and inexplicably returned to the number-one spot.
Arguably the weakest muscle in the Xbox One is its exclusives. Look at how much red there is under the exclusives category. Although Sunset Overdrive was well-received, it didn’t inspire passion to buy Xbox One by the truckload. The biggest franchise titles to have come out this generation, like Destiny and Dragon Age: Inquisition, have been multi-platform.
Although Twitter is just another public relations platform for the tech giant, it’s still telling that they’re championing this E3 with such hyperbole as the greatest, in history. They’re confident, and with their strategy to focus on the unique games that make the Xbox One different from the PS4, Wii U, and even PC will be their saving grace.
Oddly enough, the biggest competitor for Microsoft is neither Sony or Nintendo, it’s themselves. PC gaming has surged, thanks to successful services like Steam and the customizable nature of PCs to gut it with tech that surpasses what is even on Sony and Microsoft’s gaming machines. An elitist community has evolved from PC gaming that shames others into joining up, making E3 conferences partly a tomato-throwing contest.
This year, Microsoft seeks to expand PC gaming as a part of the Xbox brand, taking advantage of their position as a leading PC manufacturer. The life of its flagship console is well into its crucial, now-or-never years. If Microsoft hopes to keep Xbox relevant, it must grow alongside PC.
In the previous console generation, the Xbox 360 dominated for more than two years straight. Popular exclusive series like Gears of War and Halo ensured the Xbox 360 would dominate living rooms and dorm rooms, but that success hasn’t happened to the Xbox One.
At E3 2013 when Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One, they slipped when they touted the machine as the center of living room entertainment. Games took a bit of a backseat, and gamers — territorial over their gaming domain — had their eyes glaze over. Microsoft tried to win back favor at the next year’s E3, but despite the primary focus on games there weren’t killer app exclusives that inspired a rush to retail.
After two years of learning from mistakes, Microsoft looks like they’ve been hitting the gym and are ready to show off their hot bodies at the summer party. But will it be enough for gamers already in committed relationships with their rivals? That will be known come June 15.