Xbox One Wins The Launch Wars Hands Down

Folks, this one is going to be short because it's the easiest case I've ever made. Microsoft wins the next-gen game console launch wars by launching something that the company doesn't even call a console. Where Nintendo offered us a tablet to accompany the millions we had already bought and Sony then offered us a box that we couldn't even see, Microsoft has trumped them both by delivering the Xbox One. Let's tally up the points:

  • The name. Wii U means something, I'm sure, to someone. PS4 means "we like the past and want to extend it." Xbox One takes a bolder and more important stand by saying, "It's time to reboot the whole category." This is beautifully illustrated in the way that the Xbox presenters never referred to Xbox One as a game console. It is an All In One Home Entertainment System.
  • The reveal. PS4 famously flopped its launch by hiding the console entirely. That would have been fine last generation, maybe. But this generation comes in the post-Steve Jobs era where the device and its price are shown. Microsoft debuted the box, the new Kinect, and the new controller in the first 60 seconds of the event.
  • The scope. Wii U and PS4 both promise to provide access to video and other interesting media experiences. Xbox One actually delivers those things in the most satisfying and complete way anyone other than TiVo has done so far, letting you switch from gaming to TV to movies to web browsing with simple voice commands and practically no waiting.
  • The UX design. Microsoft takes an unlikely trophy home today — it can claim to be the winner of the race to build the best living-room user experience available, a title previously held for the past decade by TiVo. By throwing immense hardware at the problem along with its unique user interface assets — controller, mobile, voice, and gesture — Microsoft has created the first TV experience that will make sense to every first-time user. It's very un-Microsoft, to be honest, and a pleasure to see. Even the inclusion of a Windows 8-like Snap feature to run apps next to each other is a grace note I did not expect from Redmond.
  • The commitment to games. I'm not a hardcore gamer, so the thought that Microsoft might look at gaming in a way that would offend gamers didn't really bother me personally, even though I knew the company had to avoid it if possible. Xbox One comes with a commitment to develop exclusive gaming experiences for that audience and also gives them user experience (UX) innovations — a gaming DVR, auto-login to the last saved game, etc. — that will reassure gamers who wondered if Microsoft was considering abandoning them.

 

What now? The company certainly has to make good on all of these promises, and remember, this is Microsoft, a company that is so fixated on its PC operating system revenues that it may slip back into treating its powerful Xbox position as a nice-to-have. But based on what we saw today, I don't think that's likely. Add names like Spielberg and NFL, and it's clear the company means it when it says it's time to create a new type of home entertainment system. 

 

Comments

I have been Xbox fan since

I have been Xbox fan since its birth but feel the launch was pants man! OK so they showed off the console but did not report the important stuff that's inside apart from 8gig ram and 8 cores. Apart from the TV section all they could draw on was what game developers have done ie Call of Duty Ghosts that would play better on a PC anyway. Call of Duty DLC released on Xbox first is the norm. It's marketing only and not an indication on the power of the hardware. Xbox customers pay £38 Per year for the early DLC release

This is a correct

This is a correct assessment... from a marketing and/or corporate point of view.

But the article doesn't understand or address the needs of end users. Vitually all video games news site said the Xbox One is "a disaster" or that "Sonay already won the 8th generation console war". Such strong statements are also evidenced in Sony's shares going up by 8 percent during the announcement.

So why is that? Poor specs (still important for games), no backward compatibility, and other bad design choices.

While I understand that the Xbox One is not a console but an entertainement platform, Microsoft did alienate itself from the core customer segment of gamers.

"But this generation comes in

"But this generation comes in the post-Steve Jobs era where the device and its price are shown."

Microsoft did not announce the price, so by your own standards they also flopped.

In Reply: I predicted gamers

In Reply:
I predicted gamers would be upset even before I saw the announcement (see my BBC post ahead of the launch). Of course, alienating gamers is easy to do in theory, until you give them the new Call of Duty exclusively or the next chapter of Halo. Then they'll play, I guarantee it. Even if they grumble about it. But MSFT's gamer-focused announcements haven't even been made yet, so there's a chance MSFT can win some of them back at E3. By the way, Sony's share price has nothing to do with PS4, Sony is a much bigger company recovering from much bigger problems than a possible weak or strong debut of the PS4. Similarly, MSFT's stock can't possibly rise or fall on the strength or weakness of the Xbox launch because this whole division is just a rounding error against Windows and Office -- that's the source of MSFT's biggest weakness, btw.

As for the price: I will conclude that MSFT flopped if they don't announce price and date availability at E3. The same will be doubly so for Sony at E3 if they don't announce price and availability there. Remember, I'm the one that pointed out that Microsoft could still botch this, and I did so with good reason. But don't be upset with me if I criticized your favorite company or device: I'm merely the messenger explaining the macroeconomic impact of digital disruption on siloed businesses like gaming, music, news, and other once-strong but now-threatened content business as they evolve into converged service experiences.

You're using the word

You're using the word macroeconomic incorrectly.

And announcing the price of the consoles at E3 is not strictly necessary for either company. Microsoft didn't announce the price of the Kinect at E3 2010 and it went on to be very successful.

Even after the E3,

Even after the E3, Playstation looks like they are winning the launch war, not Microsoft.

Better specs for a lower price, 'social share' button, and, more importantly, it has backward compatibility, plays used games and does not require a permanent internet connection to play...

They did such a good job that

They did such a good job that they had to back down on their DRM policy one week after E3.