Microsoft has been trying to dethrone Sony’s Playstation for fifteen years now. The last console generation was a heady time for Microsoft. The XBox 360, released in November 2005, jumped out to a head start over its rival, Playstation 3. Sony until that point had dominated both the previous two console generations, including the Playstation 2 slapping around Microsoft’s original XBox. For PS3 though Sony made some key errors, most notably a $500/$600 price point for the PS3, and the XBox 360 was able to lead for much of its generation.
With all that positive momentum, expectations were high for XBox going into this generation that the third time would be the charm for Microsoft. This time they’d finally take a commanding leadership position over the Playstation in the game market … or so the script was supposed to go.
Somewhere along the line, the wheels kinda fell off the bus. The XBox One launched too expensive, with the Kinect 2.0 not making much of market impact and driving the system’s price to be a $100 more than the launch PS4. Sony pounced with the no-frills PS4 priced just right and built a large early lead that they haven’t relinquished. In fact, the Playstaion 4 has dominated the XBox One this generation outselling it 2:1 (PS4 at the current time is over 60 million sold worldwide while XBox One has just crossed 30 million).
What can Microsoft do to get back in the race? Can they even make it a race? Well you guessed it, we have some thoughts about that. Below, we lay out some suggestions that could help Microsoft in the longer term:
1.) Go On the Marketing Attack With XBox One X: With the XBox One X coming this fall, Microsoft will once again have the most powerful console on the market. The PS4 Pro clocks in at 4 TFLOPS and the XBox One X is 6 TFLOPS with more RAM. Simply put, it’s a more capable piece of game hardware that should have the best looking versions of key multi-platform franchises. We think MS needs to directly spell this out in marketing and make it a big point to directly state this system “does what Playstation doesn’t”. Yes, in old school Sega Vs. Nintendo style marketing. Get aggressive and go direct, consumers should know XBox is the best place to play multi-platform titles.
2.) Exclusives, We Need More: Yeah, XBox execs are likely sick of hearing this, but they need to hear it even more. Multi-platform games like Call of Duty and Star Wars Battlefront are great. But Microsoft has really not had a bonafide exclusive studio blockbuster since Gears of War on the XBox 360, and they’ve never been able to top Halo as their coup de gras flagship IP. Halo is great, don’t get us wrong, but it’s also now fifteen+ years old. Microsoft needs something a bit fresher to really drive XBox adoption. More resources are needed to invest more money on in-house exclusive titles that you can’t play on Playstation.
3.) Consider An Alliance With Nintendo: Instead of having a rival in Nintendo perhaps they could look at working out some kind of deal whereby the Microsoft and Nintendo agree to sharing certain types of content. Now we know this suggestion is a long shot and for Nintendo to even consider, such a deal would have to favor them. Nintendo is very independent in that way, they’re not going to accept any deal that isn’t a slam dunk for them. So yes we know that, we still think it would be smart for Microsoft to consider.
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) November 15, 2016
Maybe if MS agreed to allow some 360-era Halo, Gears, Forza titles on Switch and allowed Nintendo access to Rare titles for the inevitable N64 Classic and Virtual Console … maybe, just maybe Nintendo would be amenable to giving Microsoft some perks in return. Obviously not brand new titles from Nintendo, that will be an instant no-go from Nintendo, but maybe some classic Nintendo games could appear on the XBox. Nintendo has recently made the leap to allow Nintendo IP on iOS and Android after all. Minecraft is already on Switch too, is Halo really that different?
Make fans for these IP from the Nintendo userbase and perhaps XBox becomes more attractive to Nintendo fans looking for a second console. Master Chief in Smash Bros? Make it so, we say. It’s a bit of a radical idea, but it’s worth a shot, we feel. Anyways that’s our take on this, leave a comment below and make your voice heard.