Why Microsoft May Have Lost the Battle With Gamers, but Won the War for the Living Room

The Xbox One will dominate the living room but not the mind of the gamer.

The Xbox One will dominate the living room but not the mind of the gamer.
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Microsoft’s unveiling unnerves gamers… 

And wins over everyone else.

So as most of us know Microsoft lifted the curtain on their next gen console, the Xbox One.  What followed the initial unveiling was nearly thirty-five minutes of television centered, entertainment hub influenced, movie-watching, channel-flipping hulla balloo.  Let that sink in for just a second.  Thirty-five minutes… of an hour long conference… about introducing a new video game console… was spent on everything that wasn’t a video game.

I watched the entire conference and then spent the next hour or so reading various impressions on the internet via the large internet gaming sites and, as I suspected…

Most of the gaming media was more than underwhelmed.  

I shared their sentiment.  I gave myself a day before jumping to any conclusions and ruminated on what could have possibly been going on in Microsoft’s head.  I tried to have conversations with a few of my friends and my girlfriend and it turns out that most of them really didn’t even have a clue that there was a conference at all.  A few of my Facebook friends knew there was a conference and didn’t watch it.  So far the only people I knew who had watched it were some random guys I met during an Xbox live session later that night.  Before heading to bed I showed my girlfriend the beginning of the conference, wanting to get her opinion, wanting to hear that I wasn’t alone in thinking the conference was awful.  I didn’t get the reaction I wanted.  Instead, I hear this,

“Wow, this is pretty neat.  We won’t have to switch inputs anymore.” 

And she continued to watch it.  And she continued to dig it.  

Now before anyone says anything along the lines of someone like my girlfriend not being the target demographic for a gaming console I say that yes, I agree with you.  But an entertainment console?  Jackpot.  Microsoft has never wanted the Xbox to be anything but.

Then this morning a few co-workers of mine and I talk about the conference.  They both agree, the television stuff looks awesome AND you can control it with 1:1 accuracy with your hands.  It can run two apps!?  Apparently these folks have never hooked up their computers to their televisions.  And you know what?? They won’t have to now.  Hell, I won’t have to.

You see, the Xbox One is pulling a page outta Apple’s book.  

Make it smooth, make it accessible, make it look good, make it appear like it does everything when really, it only makes everything simpler.

I’m predicting it now.  The Xbox One is going to dominate the North American living room come this holiday.  If that task switching, voice activated, Kinect-powered interface works like it’s supposed to… It’ll be goodbye Sony.  Sure, Microsoft may not be focused on the gamer, but let’s face it, we are the vocal minority.  Most people are comfortable with a few good dependable third party games a year and that’s that.  Most people I know that play games really only buy five or six games a year tops.  One of them is COD and the other is a sports related title and the other few are random and usually established franchises.  Microsoft has basically made EA sports and the COD series an exclusive franchise anyways.  So there’s that.  The number of exclusives doesn’t really matter in the long run.  The Playstation 3 ended up having a far superior catalog of first party games and it didn’t really help that much in the end.  Want to know the number one complaint I’ve heard about the Playstation 3?

“It’s hard to navigate the menus.”

No joke.  That’s what I hear the most.  The menus.  And these people are right.  The store is in it’s own little area and it’s always been slow and cumbersome.  I put in a movie and it’s not right there in the first area.  I gotta go over a few tiles to the video tab. There’s no front page.  That is the reason why Microsoft will succeed with the Xbox One.  It’s all about the accessibility.  There’s a favorites section.  A section for what you’ve recently been doing. The marketplace in integrated into everything.  If you want to find something else… you just ask.  

Plus…  It looks good while doing all of this.

It saddens me to say that in the end.  The gamer may well be going extinct.

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