It turns out the secret to their success was right under their noses all the time!
In this day and age, technology has literally changed every facet of our lives. Our video games are no different, as innovations have done more than just bring us smoother frame rates and photo-realistic graphics. These technological leaps have afforded us new avenues for our hardware, much of which has taken a simple console (once saw as a window into just the gaming world) and opened it up to all facets of entertainment. From streaming films, TV and even music, it’s no longer accurate to call them video game consoles anymore, but more like entertainment hubs.
And therein lays the current problem (and solution) to Microsoft’s recent woes in the games market.
For those of you who may be unaware (and how could you be if you’ve followed our coverage of the next-gen console war), allow me to bring you up to speed: the PlayStation 4 is winning. I don’t say that with any ire or fanboy hate toward Microsoft’s console, but I live in the real world. This is simply a fact of our time. However, several shake ups within the company suggest that Microsoft sees their new system may be a bit off course and are actively seeking a new direction (or a “refocus” as they’ve called it in the past). In an ironic twist, it would seem that the company is drawing inspirations from the most unlikely of places: Apple. In a recent interview, Xbox Head Phil Spencer touted the innovations found in the music market and compared what their rival did (by tapping into the MP3 craze early with iTunes) to what the Xbox One can do to garner a new lease on life. While speaking with Major Nelson, he stated, “I fundamentally believe for this company that gaming can be a real catalyst for Microsoft's re-emergence as a consumer company… I go back and I look at Apple and they, on the back of music, became a very relevant consumer brand…I think we've got the same opportunity with Xbox here at Microsoft...it would be great to be a part of that. If people look back and said 'this is when Microsoft committed to gaming across everything that we did led with what we do on Xbox One and that was an important part in their history.”
So let’s just recap here shall we. A game console manufacture plans to regain relevance in the video game market by concentrating on (of all things) GAMES! Imagine that! What a novel concept.
It does seem ludacris that such a revelation coming from the higher-ups at Microsoft only occurred when they realized that gamers want games first and foremost. Don’t get me wrong, I love my consoles functionality. I remember the days when blowing into your game cartridge was the only “extracurricular activities” you’d get from your system (besides playing the game itself of course). These days, I’ve lost count of how many films I’ve streamed on Netflix, TV shows I’ve watched on Hulu and hours of fun I’ve had downloading digital titles (without ever having to set foot in a rental store or GameStop). However, if the digital side of my gaming life means I have to sacrifice my true passion (the game experience itself), then I definitely see something seriously wrong with this equation. It would seem that Spencer and some of the other top brass are just now fixed on the proper target (one they should have been aiming for all along).
Pushing the nature of how we experience video games (through innovations in hardware and technology) is an area I applaud any company who has the courage to try creative, out-of-the-box ideas. However, it’s important that while you juggle all these things, your eye is never taken off your core values. Frankly, Microsoft started out to make their system a portal for gaming second, and EVERYTHING ELSE under the sun first.
Let’s hope this renewed sense of self gets their focus back where it belongs, as there are others in the race that are not so confused (and would love to finally put a boot on the throats of their Xbox counterpart).