The word reactive has two definitions in the Oxford English dictionary.
- Showing a response to a stimulus
- Acting in response to a situation rather than creating or controlling it
“Why are you telling us what the definition of reactive is on a gaming blog?” I hear you ask. Well there’s a very good reason. The word reactive is the best word to currently describe the Xbox One in its first year on sale (And just to avoid any confusion, I mean the 2nd description of the word reactive).
Microsoft opted to show the world the Xbox One earlier than E3. They debuted the console in May 2013. From then Xbox One had already created its own… I don’t really think the term self-destruction should be used, but we’ll go with it, Xbox one had already created its own self-destruction.
It wasn’t until 6th June 2013 that many of our fears were realized, Microsoft released a statement confirming that you would indeed have to have your console ‘check in’ online once every 24 hours for games to run, and the part that left the sour taste in gamer’s mouths the most. You would not be able to trade games in, or worse you wouldn’t be able to even loan your copy of a game to a friend. Once the game was installed that was it.
“Games can also be given to friends via their discs. There are no fees associated with the transfer, but you can only pass them to friends who have been on your Xbox list for at least 30 days and each game can only be transferred once. Loaning or renting games won’t be available at launch”
Gaming message boards went ballistic to these confirmed statements on the console. Another issue that Microsoft had to resolve and confirm was just how sensitive Kinect2.0 really was with people suggesting that it’ll be uploading all user interactions to United States Government and more. Without a doubt one of the most ridiculous things that Microsoft had to react to. To reassure people that they were not spying on them. The always on description truly put people off Xbox One.
E3 2013 came round and Microsoft didn’t budge at bit. No reversing any of the confirmed specifications. What we did find out is the price. It’s important we remember the price. $499. Truly the shock of E3 to that point was the price point the console would be launching at, and to top it off with no option of a Kinect-less bundle. The idea was that the Xbox One was an entertainment box and that everyone should want one in their homes regardless of being a gamer or not. A high price point will not get casuals on board so Microsoft were already now reliant on the hardcore gamer’s to ensure the launch as a success.
Next press conference was Sony. Okay so perhaps Sony were reactive here with the price point, but they’ll never admit to this each time confirming that they were always going into E3 2013 with the launch price figure of $399. The conference that Sony put on completely destroyed Microsoft. They targeted and directly humiliated their competition. The crowd’s reaction to the trading games in confirmation and no need for online check ins are some of the loudest crowd reactions I’ve seen at E3 conferences.
At this point the tide was already shifting in Sony’s favour and the price announcement being $100 cheaper for better hardware was the killer blow.
Before I begin to dive into the reactive actions that were taken, let’s look at more that Microsoft would later have to rethink.
One thing I had always said to Will was that Microsoft should have given the option of bundles without Kinect. I’ve had many discussions with Will on why he felt Microsoft had to stick with Kinect and why I felt we should have had the choice from launch. For me paying £100 for a piece of equipment that I apparently now don’t need plugged in all the time after one of the many back tracks from Microsoft seemed ridiculous.
But it would appear that we’d never get that Kinect less bundle. Phil Harrison declaring in August of 2013 that Xbox One would never be sold without Kinect. And again in February 2014 ahead of Xbox One’s first price cut reacting to being outsold on a monthly basis, Microsoft confirmed that they had no intention of selling Xbox One without Kinect. By this point there were only a few Xbox one games that actually required Kinect. Rares Sport Rivals, Xbox Fitness, Just Dance, Zumba Fitness & Fighter Within. Considering Kinect was packaged in as standard to encourage developers to develop more games that could feature Kinect, that’s not a great variety or haul so far.
So let’s take a look at the state of Xbox One today shall we. They’ve gone back on their initial online check in’s and trade in policy. They had to react to the wave of negativity to this. They also very quickly reacted and told us we could unplug Kinect and leave it in the box if we wanted.
We currently have Xbox One bundles without Kinect.
Games with gold finally started, something that Playstation owners have had for years.
Their vision of the Xbox One being the living room entertainment box has been squashed with their entertainment studios being closed down.
They’ve had to scrap everything and start from zero. They’ve had to cut prices and practically give games away in bundles in reaction to PS4’s month to month dominance. They’ve had to repair ties with indie support in reaction to the incredibly positive relationship Sony has built with indie developers, the games with gold service. All in reaction to PlayStation’s initial ideas.
As Microsoft and Xbox continue to react and scrap their initial strategies, Sony haven’t had to drop any of their plans. In fact Sony continue to be proactive with the recent reveal of their Netflix like service Vue, PlayStation NOW and their hopefully soon to see more of Morpheus. Another first is the Share Play option that recently launched. Some developers don’t appreciate that a single copy of their game can be played for 60 minutes by someone on a different console who doesn’t own the game, but the idea itself is fantastic.
I appreciate it could be argued that Sony are reacting to Microsoft in terms of rolling out Vue, but with regards to Playstation Now service, this has been on the cards since E3 2013.
Right now all we are seeing from Microsoft are short term deals, short term price cuts to increase the monthly volume of sales. All these moves are reactive moves to try catch the magic numbers that Sony are setting each month.
All the while Sony can sit tight on their price point, they seem to be able to do no wrong currently sales wise. We’re told that November could buck the trend of the past 10 months and see Xbox One finally outsell the PS4 for a month due to the reactive pricing strategies. But if lowering the cost of the console resulting in no profit per sold unit is what it takes to win a month, I truly doubt Sony will be losing any sleep over this reactive move.