As the great Bob Dylan sang in 1964, The Times They Are-a Changin’ and yes, many things have changed since Dylan recorded his timeless classic. We’ve developed phones that have more capabilities than the computer that brought men to the moon. We’ve developed cars that run purely on electricity, and we even have a black president. Almost nothing is immovable by time, so it’s only natural that change has finally reached the doorstep of the video game industry and was welcomed in with ear to ear smiles from industry CEOs.
This all started with the success of Nintendo’s Wii. With its easy yet intuitive controls and family-focused approach, the system paved the way for video games to become a mass appeal product. Is there anything wrong with that? No, of course not! I’ll never forget how happy I was to see my closest friends and family finally enjoying a hobby that I’ve had all my life. I was still relatively pleased because Nintendo hadn’t stopped developing games for its hardcore base either; however, these franchises such as The Legend of Zelda, Mario, and Metroid took a back seat to hits like Wii Sports and Wii Play.
Don’t get me wrong, I like these games just as much as the next guy, but games like this weren’t designed with a core gaming experience in mind. Yet surprise surprise, these two games make up the nos. 1 and 4 spots on a list of the best selling Wii games of all time. Not to mention that the Wii sold over 99.84 million systems–over 20 million more than the Xbox 360–worldwide. With this in mind, other game companies began to take notice of Nintendo’s highly successful business model and thusly changed their approach to gaming.
We received avatars on the 360 and Move for the PS3. We saw Kinect for Microsoft and a slew of family friendly flop games with it. Today’s casual gamers have multiple mediums to get their gaming fix. They have games for their smart phones, games for their tablets and games for their web browsers.
Maybe the reason casual gaming is no longer applicable to home consoles is because these gamers do not need an expensive gaming system to get their fix. Understanding this, Microsoft marketed their new system as an all in “One” entertainment system. A smart idea, but most of the innovations they showed are already possible through other mediums. Not to mention that those other mediums are probably a lot cheaper than the Xbox One will be.
Will the Xbox still sell? It very likely will, but it probably will not see prolonged success. Most Xbox exclusives, Halo and Gears of War aside, will eventually be released on the PS4. Sony has been hard at work producing and maintaining completely unique franchises while Microsoft focused on gimmicks like Kinect. As a long time Xbox player this saddens me, but almost all good relationships have to come to an end at some point. Now I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for Microsoft.
The fact is this: gamers want games, not gimmicks. Xbox One’s reveal showed that Microsoft decided to market gimmicks over hard specs and brilliant new franchises. Everyone expects the new Halo, Gears of War, Call of Duty, etc. Microsoft only showed us “One” new IP with Quantum Break. It’s hard to make a call on what Quantum Break will even be about with Microsoft’s vague teaser trailer and their decision to spend more time explaining how to watch TV with Kinect than to explain the future of Xbox One gaming.
I hope for Microsoft’s sake that at E3 they devote all of their time to showing us more games than gizmos. Most of the gaming community is upset with their Xbox One reveal, and they should take that to heart before they release their console later this year. Maybe they could offer an Xbox One option without Kinect and try much harder to market themselves to core gamers. Microsoft should have realized that the casual market they are catering to will not be watching a system’s reveal press conference nor will they be watching E3. At those press releases they need to focus on core gaming aspects, not a Halo live action TV series. If Microsoft doesn’t change their approach to marketing the Xbox One, they may find themselves going the way of the Dreamcast very soon. Don’t believe me? Look up Sega Dreamcast Console on Amazon and look at the last bullet point under Product Description. It reads “All-in-one-entertainment.”