How Microsoft threw away their Xbox dominance opportunity

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You just need to go back in the archives of any video game media website to see how in 2007 and 2008 the PlayStation 3 was reeling with terrible marketing, a high price and a generally terrible design. The Xbox 360 was dominant in most Western markets and had the gamers on its side… so what happened?

Unfortunately the same thing that has happened to every single console manufacturer since the beginning of time, Microsoft got arrogant and greedy. Instead of continuing to develop and cater for their core audience, the gamers, Microsoft saw the dollar signs over the mainstream population and wanted some of that.

Microsoft dialled back their investment in exclusive titles and game software and turned their focus onto the Wii’s market with the announcement and subsequent release of the Kinect.

By the time the peripheral was released in 2010 murmurs were doing the rounds that Microsoft needed more exclusives and games and at the same time the PlayStation 3 had received a face lift and a price cut and was selling like hotcakes in the market.

Sony however wasn’t immune to the allure of the Wii market though with it’s development and release of the PlayStation Move, possibly the most useless peripheral of the last generation.

However Sony quickly realised that they were never going to compete with the Wii and that their core market didn’t want them to. Instead of continuing to push for control of the living room and mainstream audience Sony decided to double down on their core audience and decided to push for more exclusives and changed their marketing to target gamers and only gamers.

The gamble paid off with sales of the PS3 and the general media’s reaction soaring. Sony were once again becoming the gaming company of the masses. It was at this time that I expected Microsoft to realise the error of their ways and start re-focussing back on their target market.

However instead of doing that Microsoft continued pushing the Kinect functionality and entertainment station idea of the Xbox 360. Less and less 360 exclusives were made and in 2013 we had an awards year where we couldn’t even list a decent Xbox 360 exclusive for the Xbox 360 award. It was a shocking turn of events with Sony finishing the generation easily on top and with their best games still being released while Microsoft’s attention was solely on the Xbox One.

Microsoft’s new Xbox One is the console Microsoft thinks will revolutionise the living room and is their play to become the centre of everyone’s entertainment. But Microsoft has once again made a crucial mistake, in their haste to dominate the living room they have forgotten that not everyone wants a gaming device in their living room, in fact most gamers have families who want to watch TV while we game.

Not only that but Microsoft forgot that not everyone lives in America and releasing a console that is incompatible with most of the worlds TV suppliers, the voice commands simply won’t work, was not a good move. And yet they carried on with a trifecta by also releasing the console in very selected markets while ignoring some of the bigger countries in the world.

The rest of the business world knows that the developing market is where the most revenue is going to be earned in the next 2 decades but Microsoft simply ignored all of the developing, and a lot of developed markets, when they released. Not only did they ignore us but they still to this day can’t even reveal what year we may be graced with their presence.

Over and above all of that we are also expected to pay a premium for the Xbox One experience even though the number of exclusives on the device pale in comparison to the PlayStation 4 which is available in most regions and for a lower price.

A dominant player in the gaming market is not ideal for anyone but the average consumer, outside of America, is simply not going to see the value or point behind picking up a Xbox One.

Microsoft need to review their plans quickly before the shareholders decide to cut the department loose.

I’m still going to import an Xbox One because it does offer some great functionality but I’m in the minority and the longer Microsoft ignore regions with loud media the worse it is going to be for them in the long run.

[Update]

Microsoft has contactd us to re-affirmn that we will be getting the Xbox One sometime in 2014 in South Africa. 

“The Xbox One will release in South Africa in 2014. We currently do not have an official release date but when we do we will announce it to all our media and through our social channels.“

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