X018 Could Be An Inflection Point For The Long Term Fortunes of the Xbox Brand

Microsoft can use X018 to set Xbox up for success in the future.

Posted By | On 09th, Nov. 2018 Under Article, Editorials | Follow This Author @Pramath1605


The last year or so has slowly been a year of Microsoft slowly regaining some goodwill with its fans. The Xbox One X is probably the single best bit of gaming hardware ever released, and it has truly come into its own with games like Red Dead Redemption 2 showing what it can do. Meanwhile, Microsoft offering what practically amounts to 4K remasters to users for free with their Xbox One X enhanced backward compatibility program while the competition continues to charge for re-releases has undoubtedly won them a lot of goodwill, too.

We also can’t forget how on the ball they have been with addressing criticism for their games like Sea of Thieves, how they have released one of their best first party exclusives ever with Forza Horizon 4, how they have at last begun to expand on their first party portfolio by acquiring and setting up five new studios, and how, in an attempt to reconnect with fans, they are bringing back things associated with the Xbox brand when it was at its peak again. These things include the marketing tag line “Jump In”, as well as the Inside Xbox name, and, perhaps most significantly, X0, their series of annual Xbox focused conventions that is being brought back this year, and will be held this Saturday in Mexico City.

X0 is especially significant, even more so when you consider that Sony isn’t having its equivalent, the PlayStation Experience, this year. This means that a lot of third party game announcements and reveals, which have traditionally been associated with PlayStation because they are announced at Sony’s event, can now be leveraged by Xbox instead. It’s also important because it means Microsoft gets important mindshare at a time when their competition doesn’t this year, meaning they can technically have a leg up over PlayStation in terms of general awareness.

X018

"X0 is especially significant, even more so when you consider that Sony isn’t having its equivalent, the PlayStation Experience, this year. This means that a lot of third party game announcements and reveals, which have traditionally been associated with PlayStation because they are announced at Sony’s event, can now be leveraged by Xbox instead."

But in the end, X0 will not be about PlayStation versus Xbox versus Nintendo. All three companies have, by now, diverged, and are charting their own course towards whatever they feel the future of gaming as a medium and industry is. For Microsoft, X0 will be their chance to ensure Xbox is primed for long term, and most importantly, sustainable success. After going from being at the top with the Xbox 360 to being outsold and lapped by the competition, they probably want to ensure that such a series of developments is never again repeated.

X0 will be important for this. Microsoft can use this event to announce new games from their newly set up or established studios, even if only with teasers. Microsoft’s first party is paltry, and lacks in variety greatly, mostly comprised just of shooters and racers in various flavours. Maybe Microsoft can attempt to fix that this year—maybe they can show a new action adventure game, or a new RPG, or a new single player prestige title that they put out to try and expand the appeal of Xbox to beyond the kinds of audiences that are typically attracted by the fare Microsoft puts out.

That part is important—a fan of Halo, Gears of War, or Forza is already sold on Xbox, and they will buy in no matter what. They like those games, they will want to play them. Limiting their major output to just those three brands is effectively preaching to the choir. On the other hand, putting out appealing games of other kinds—new genres and styles, probably those that are not too well served by third parties, or are just uniquely appealing on their own—will help Microsoft attract more people into the fold. If someone likes single player adventure games like Zelda or God of War, so far they have nothing on the Xbox to truly compel them to look into picking it up. But if Microsoft were to announce, say, a high budget new Fable game, then there’s no doubt many people would look into possibly getting an Xbox for themselves.

Halo Infinite

"Microsoft can use this event to announce new games from their newly set up or established studios, even if only with teasers. Microsoft’s first party is paltry, and lacks in variety greatly, mostly comprised just of shooters and racers in various flavours. Maybe Microsoft can attempt to fix that this year—maybe they can show a new action adventure game, or a new RPG, or a new single player prestige title that they put out to try and expand the appeal of Xbox to beyond the kinds of audiences that are typically attracted by the fare Microsoft puts out."

That’s an expansion of their audience. But it’s not about just expanding the audience, it’s also about sustaining that growth. Microsoft probably wants Xbox to have the kind of stable audience PlayStation does, which has always sold over 80 million units with each home console. For that, it is important for them to assure their buyers and customers that they will always be delivering the kind of high content that brought them to Xbox in the first place, and that that content will never be found anywhere else.

Microsoft does this well with Halo, Gears, and Forza—if you like those games, you know that Microsoft will always have a new one out, and so, you’ll get an Xbox. But if you picked up an Xbox 360 (for say, Mass Effect), only for those games to make the jump to PlayStation shortly afterwards, while PlayStation also continued to put out rich, appealing, and unique exclusives you couldn’t get on Xbox—why would you want to buy an Xbox One for any of its appealing exclusives? As long as they aren’t Halo, Gears, or Forza, why wouldn’t you wait for those games to eventually come to PS4? Indeed, we already have reports of PUBG making that jump. So what if Microsoft announces a cool looking exclusive for Xbox One? Why not wait a while for it to hit PlayStation, instead of spending hundreds of dollars on an Xbox One to play it a few months or years early?

And this is where the first party part of the equation comes back into reckoning. If these incredibly appealing looking new games beyond Forza, Gears, and Halo are announced by Microsoft owned studios, you will know that an Xbox will be the only console for you to be able to play them. If Microsoft announces the acquisition of a quality studio, then you will know that going forward, Xbox will be the only console where you will be able to play their high quality and historically well regarded content. In all these cases, Microsoft has not just caught your attention now—they have caught it over the long term, and made a far more convincing case for you to look into investing into an Xbox every generation, as you presumably do with PlayStation and Nintendo, thanks to their rich libraries of exclusives.

"If these incredibly appealing looking new games beyond Forza, Gears, and Halo are announced by Microsoft owned studios, you will know that an Xbox will be the only console for you to be able to play them. If Microsoft announces the acquisition of a quality studio, then you will know that going forward, Xbox will be the only console where you will be able to play their high quality and historically well regarded content. In all these cases, Microsoft has not just caught your attention now—they have caught it over the long term, and made a far more convincing case for you to look into investing into an Xbox every generation."

That’s not all, either. If Microsoft can leverage nostalgia for its brand by using its legacy content (like it has been with the backward compatibility program) and classic games, it also reinforces fan loyalty, and makes it more likely that they will stick with the Xbox brand. Microsoft then has a cushion for Xbox, a buffer, a guaranteed audience, while also opening the way for third parties who make similar games to follow in their wake.

X018 could be an inflection point for the long term fortunes of the Xbox brand. It’s equally likely it’s not, and that it is instead just a cool fan event with some mid-tier announcements. And that’s fine, too—for reasons mentioned previously, it’s still a win for Microsoft in terms of mindshare and brand visibility. But, I hope they come back swinging. They’ve shown us they’re serious about wanting to be competitive—now to actually act on that sentiment, Microsoft.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.


Awesome Stuff that you might be interested in


More From GamingBolt

Keep On Reading

 

Copyright © 2009-2018 GamingBolt.com. All Rights Reserved.