On May 21st 2013, Microsoft revealed its next generation video game console, the Xbox One. Said event host Don Mattrick, “Our main goal is to confuse the every-loving bejesus out of everyone. That’s why we are calling the new Xbox the Xbox One.” Microsoft did extensive consumer research and discovered that gamers dislike conventional numbering methods. “Many gamers say they are tired of ‘sequels’ so we’re not making a sequel…we’re making a pretend semi-prequel sequel. I know, I’m confused too, and that’s what makes it so exciting.” The biggest take away from the reveal event, however, was Microsoft’s dedication and responsiveness to the needs and demands of the modern gamer. From an emphasis on voice and motion controls that are spotty at best, to little mention of actual video games and a large focus on non-gaming features that most gamers will never use, Microsoft is dedicated to creating the best non-gaming gaming machine for people who don’t play games. “We took all the data we sneakily uploaded from people’s Kinect cameras and we poured over the information and found that 100% of Xbox gamers sit in front of their TVs,” said Mattrick. “We see this an untapped market. So we are proud to announce that Xbox will cater to gamers by focusing almost exclusively on TV and sports.”
Microsoft recognizes that gamers don’t really want games, but rather more of what they can get elsewhere, specifically TV shows. In an age where everything is easier and quicker, traditional games — such as the critical and commercial gem BioShock Infinite — are only slowing gamers down from accessing the content they really seek: passive, mundane, simple content that they already pay hundreds of dollars to access from their cable providers. Gamers are tired of escaping into magical worlds or saving galaxies, they want boring, real life content. Microsoft is very aware of this shift and did an excellent job of implementing these concepts in their next-generation console. A Microsoft executive stressed their new vision, “I watch TV, you watch TV, and we’re also gamers. Microsoft just put two and two together and came up with TV: gamers want TV, and TVers want more TV and TV is TV. And just in case some people are feeling nostalgic, the console will also play a couple of games.” In addition to getting basic cable TV shows, the Xbox One also has a large amount of sports content. The Xbox One will allow gamers to watch sports and follow their fantasy teams all at once. Microsoft promises its nothing like watching TV and checking your fantasy team on your smartphone. They stressed that this is a completely different and unique way to experience sports by doing so on a different electronic device in your house. They also stressed how gamers can play sports games too. Which is a bold new step for video games, which have traditionally never featured games based on soccer or American football as it was always deemed too niche of a market.
Microsoft did mention one fledgling developer’s game: Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty Ghosts. A first person shooter in which people shoot other people, and Infinity Ward promises even more shooting this time around. More importantly, this new game in the series will feature dogs, yes dogs. An Infinity Ward developer mentioned how next-generation consoles allow them to create dogs much better than all the previous video game consoles. “You see, other dogs were crap. These dogs in Call of Duty have fur and ear tattoos. They have little army clothes. They also bark and can move their jaws. In terms of gameplay…they’re definitely in the game and they do things…so that’s something. This is what Xbox One is all about: true innovation in 3D dog modeling. And TV and sports, of course, don’t want to forget that.”
Microsoft’s main competitor, Sony, saw a jump in its stock during the Xbox event. This knee-jerk move from investors can only be described as short-sighted and backwards thinking. Microsoft has a clear idea of the future where many people remain with the traditional, consumer friendly and archaic cable providers, and will choose to watch TV through an expensive gaming console. Sony, as you’ll remember, announced it next generation console in February and focused on video games — a largely unpopular, unprofitable and childish medium — social media and cutting edge technology. Some would say it’s a foolish move to develop a video game system that focuses on new, fun and innovative games instead of TV and sports. Sony CEO Kaz Hirai spoke out in response to the Microsoft reveal, saying, “What the hell is wrong with these people?” Clearly, Sony is struggling to remain relevant in the shifting landscape where gamers are rapidly abandoning games.