Console Wars – Cart Firmly Ahead of Horse

Did you know that America’s Funniest Home Videos (or AMV now) is the longest running reality TV show?  I think it has to do with the idea that you know something is going to happen but you want to see it anyways.  I mean, who doesn’t want to see more of “ball hits crotch”?  You know half the episode is going to have that but you still watch it.  It’s a comedy of errors really.

I feel like Microsoft is in the same boat.  How many years now have companies tried to put in draconian DRM into media?  Remember when Sony put rootkits into their CDs?  Ubisoft gave up on the “always on cloud” DRM when the servers simply could not handle it.  SimCity had probably the most disastrous launch in gaming history, enough to lose a CEO.  Even the lead up to the XBONE reveal had it’s share of PR problems.  I don’t understand how a multi-billion dollar company did not think that they were going to have a problem on their hands.  Every single sign, every single trend said that they were heading into a storm.

And when the big reveal came about, they didn’t have detailed answers for a completely new way of operating.  I  mean, you know you’re going to cause a heck of a storm in PR.  You’re going to break some companies’ business models (Gamestop).  You are surely going to light a massive fire in the pits of gaming.  And your answer is 2 weeks of silence? Maybe they were hoping Sony would come onboard, then it would have put the ball in their court.

I mean, I get the want to move outside gaming.  There are more people who watch TV (streaming or not) than there are who play games.  The price point for that market is around $100 right now, not $500.  The only people willing to pay that price are the hardcore gamers, you know, the niche of gamers who have been royally ticked off since the initial reveal?

I get questions about why Steam is excluded from this discussion, given that you can’t trade games.  There are a few reasons for this and foremost is that Steam provides a service while Microsoft provides a platform.  I can play Steam offline for a trip to the cottage.  I can install the game on another computer a near unlimited amount of times.  It has access to many more games.  Prices on said games reach astronomically low prices.  Every single choice Steam has made has been with the consumer in mind.  Consumers, in turn, have accepted the service terms because it meets their needs.

Sony seems to have won E3 but there are many months to go before system launch.  The irony is that Sony didn’t do anything different than what they did in the past.  How do you get accolades for offering vanilla ice cream?  I expect that Microsoft HQ is going to go into silent mode for the next few weeks and re-jig their PR plan.  This cannot have gone anywhere close to what they had expected, even though every sign I could read said it turned out exactly like expected.

I think this past month will be reviewed for years to come in marketing classes and the lessons learned will have a major impact in all future technology launches.  There are simply too many gaffes and gaps in logic to not merit further scrutiny.

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