In the video game industry, the consumer almost always speaks
loudly and clearly. When questions are fired, companies need to
have answers, lest they face the wrath of gamers scorned.
If no good answer comes to mind, though, it may be worth thinking
one through before speaking.
) Don Mattrick, the president of interactive entertainment business
for the company, took another route when it came to addressing
gamers' concerns that the Xbox One requires a constant Internet
connection, allowing for only a 24-hour period of offline play
before games become unplayable.
"Fortunately, we have a product for people who aren't able to get
some form of connectivity, it's called Xbox 360," said Mattrick
in an interview with Spike TV's Geoff Keighley
on June 11.
This blunder may be the fatal self-inflicted wound in Microsoft's
weeks-long crash and burn.
With most media pundits (myself included) quick to throw around
battle metaphors, its easy to forget that, in the end, this is
about which black box sits under most living room televisions. With
stakes as high as they are, however, it's important that console
makers don't cede any ground to their enemies. (See? The war idioms
just can't be avoided!).
Microsoft squandered its opportunity to one-up
) at its May 21 reveal. Despite displaying the physical Xbox One,
something Sony refrained from doing with its PS4 when it was first
announced, Microsoft failed almost entirely to mention anything
about video games. While the Xbox One is intended to be an
all-in-one entertainment hub, gamers were looking to see features
more relevant than seamless channel flipping via voice commands.
When later releases brought to light that the Xbox One would
require a near-constant Internet connection, and that the ability
to share and loan games would be restricted, Microsoft officially
stepped out of the pan and into the fire.
Luckily for Microsoft, its two-hour press conference at the
Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, on June 10 provided an
opportunity to soothe every lingering concern. However, it opted
instead to present a laundry list of admittedly impressive-looking
games, only to shirk the other pressing issues entirely.
When Sony's conference that evening slowly and pointedly shredded
every fault that Microsoft failed to address, only to deliver the
crushing blow of its PS4's price point of $399 (a full $100 less
than that of the Xbox One), the damage had been done. E3 sets the
tone for the gaming industry in the year to come, but when a new
generation of consoles is released, the conference can conceivably
determine the console market leader for the next five years or
Now, having exhausted just about every opportunity he could have
asked for to set things right, Mattrick has told those who don't
like the new policies of the Xbox One not to buy it. As boneheaded
as that tactic is, suggesting that people stick with the Xbox 360
rather than purchase a new generation console is a horribly veiled
attempt to prevent consumers from switching to Sony.
Everyone knows that the go-to alternative to the Xbox One is the
PS4, but Mattrick's not-so-choice words are basically a neon sign
signaling frustrated Microsoft loyalists and undecided consumers to
jump to Sony.
Nintendo Co. Ltd.
(OTCMKTS:NTDOY) previewing the newest iterations of its
Super Smash Brothers
series, it too may be ready to climb right back into the video game
It will be up to Microsoft to bandage up its Sony and
self-inflicted wounds before the two companies' newest consoles
launch for the holiday season later this year.