So in all of the Sony buzz right now, Microsoft must be sitting in a board meeting with body language and subliminal messaging experts; examining overly complex diagrams and slow-motion videos of Sony’s Future of PlayStation event. Looking at what they should really be worried about, and what is total bs. Hint: Remote Play!
But seriously, I’m sure they’re now deep in thought about what bullet to fire off first. So I thought we should look slightly deeper into what Microsoft might have up their expensive sleeves, and possibly make a few predictions and suggestions.
Kill the Hype Train…
The first and most obvious thing Microsoft need to do right now, is kill Sony’s hype train. The thing is, Sony have the upper hand right now and the longer Microsoft stay quiet (unless they have something that will not only set the internet on fire, but also your car tyre’s)… The faster Sony’s train will roll. I don’t need to tell you why this is bad, so what should Microsoft do?
The best wait to slow down a train is throw something in front of it and that needs to be in the shape of a shiny new xbox. (But a re-enforced one, otherwise that could get ugly!)
Announce it… ASAP!
Microsoft need to announce the NeXtbox before E3, preferably before GDC, and they need to have their own Apple-esque event. Why? Because if they wait till E3, I think they’ll be too late. They generally don’t attend GamesCom, nor TGS so basically their big ‘sale’ will be at E3. Two hours (providing they don’t extend their conference) just isn’t enough to persuade someone to spend $300+ (unless your Apple or you can have sex with it, right US_Army?).
I can’t see it coming before GDC though, if they were going to rush-announce the new console as a response to Sony firing first; then they would have done it on the 20th or 21st – again to kill the hype. Theres reports the conference is coming in April, and if it does, it’ll be interesting to see not only what Microsoft do; but also how Sony deal with it. But we’ve all known for almost a month unofficially that the PS4 is going to be announced, we now know officially about the PS4 so if Microsoft were to hit the panic button, they already would have. So my guess is that Microsoft know something we don’t, something mind-blowing, so are just going to continue with their original roadmap.
So what are they cooking?
It goes without saying that they need to launch first, cheaper and market harder. All three I think Microsoft will have in the bag, and no matter what anyone says about the PS4 between now and November(?), that won’t count for s**t if little Jimmy can have the NeXtbox under his tv first.
They need to take Xbox Live to the next level, possibly rename it to re-enforce its upgrade. PSN on PS4 is now looking like XBL on cloud-induced steroids. What can Microsoft do? This sounds weird but match it! Yes, it’s now Microsofts turn to play ‘me too’. But what else?
I think Skype needs to be at the forefront of XBL, fully integrated, possibly allowing players to view remote xbox’s over Skype – to anyone, anywhere. Not just the guy that downloaded the Playstation app specifically to do so. This is free advertisement for Microsoft.
Xbox Live Compete
I think Microsoft should take a good look at what EA do with Autolog (lets call it Xbox Live Compete for the purposes for this article), how cool would it be to sign on to XBL and see Dave just beat your record time for pinning John Cena in WWE 14. I’m talking a system wide, fully integrated XLC that constantly keeps friends, countries and global records across every game and pushes it to the player. That way, when Andy beats your killstreak on COD, you know about it; without Andy doing a thing.
Microsoft could take it one step further, looking at what Call of Duty: Elite does, using the massive amount of competitive information XLC will generate, integrate dedicated competitions and challenges on varying scales (weekly, monthly, country, continent, globally etc.). Prizes varying from DLC for the associated game to a totally unique item so everyone knows YOU won that competition. The possibilities are endless, whilst being totally optional: the casual gamer that only wants Kinect games never has to dabble with it. I think this is what Microsoft need to focus on: the Hardcore, and it’ll be features like this that’ll draw people in.
Now your all gonna think I’m crazy for saying this. But Microsoft need their own Playstation Home. But it needs to be done the right way, much like Kinect is doing where it’s becoming optional to use a controller. Xbox Home needs to provide the option to replace menus with Home. You boot straight into your house, where the NeXtbox is under the TV. Your games collection is there for you. What a need one? Pop down to the virtual GameStop and browse the virtual 3D library for that new fix. Yes I know, this is a long, drawn out way of starting a game, or browsing the storefront; but its user friendly. Perfectly understandable to your gran how wants a new Kinect game. She was shopping before you was breathing so is fully capable of replicating it in a virtual environment.
But the most important thing?
GAMES. GAMES, GAMES AND MORE GAMES. Xbox is Xbox for a reason: yes you can watch films on Netflix, catch your sport on ESPN and play music. But so can your iPad. Your iPad can’t play a AAA FPS. The NeXtbox needs to wow people with unique, amazing games that you just can’t get on PS4. And this is my concern, I think in all of Microsoft’s efforts to ensure you have just one box under your tv; they’ve gotten what that box should primarily do.
So, what’s your thoughts on Microsoft’s retaliation punch?