#xbox one

Ben Thompson:

Over the last two generations of consoles, however, prices have actually risen, and today a Playstation 4 or Xbox One is nearly the same price as an average PC.

In some respects, this makes no sense: why hasn’t Moore’s law had the same impact on consoles as it has had on PCs? Moreover, when you consider that consoles now compete with a whole host of new time-wasters like phones, tablets, social networks, dramatically expanded TV offerings, the Internet, etc., it’s downright bizarre.


Let me be very clear: this is a perfectly rational response by Microsoft, and a strategic disaster, all at the same time. The reason the Xbox existed in the first place was to give Microsoft a toe-hold in the living room. Over time the expectation was that the entertainment aspects of the console would make it appeal to not just gamers, but normal consumers as well. Instead, Microsoft has (understandably) been captured by gamers, and the only purpose their original strategic intent has served has been to make them less competitive with said gamers (the Xbox was more expensive and made different processing choices in order to accommodate the Kinect-centric entertainment focus). Meanwhile, no rational non-gamer will buy an Xbox One for $499 $399 in the face of sub-$100 alternatives like the Apple TV, Kindle Fire TV, or Roku.

Lots of great stuff here by Thompson. Much of this is exactly why I felt like this generation of consoles could be very troublesome for these companies. And yes, why I think Apple has a very real opening here (I may have just been off by a year).

Microsoft isn’t just doing the wrong thing, they’re doing the opposite of what they should be doing if they really want to own the living room.

Microsoft made a gaming box that didn’t game well, banked on controlling the content gateway with an expensive peripheral that customers despised and resented paying for, and wondered why it didn’t sell.
Charlie Demerjian, on Microsoft unbundling the Kinect from the Xbox One. The whole post is well worth the read for his take on how Microsoft has grown “irrelevant to computing”.

Chris Kohler on the news that Microsoft will soon begin selling a $399 version of the Xbox One without the Kinect:

Price is the problem, as others have learned recently. Getting Xbox One’s price in line with PlayStation 4′s was paramount, and matching Sony in terms of online video streaming features was as well since that is also an extra cost associated with Xbox ownership. Microsoft having to suck it up again and roll back a feature to get the price down illustrates that this was really its only feasible move. (Getting rid of an unpopular peripheral has got to hurt a lot less than Sony having to ditch backward compatibility to get PlayStation 3′s price to a palatable level.)

I’m not sold that price is the only problem here. As I’ve said from the outset, this latest generation of consoles sound like mediocre upgrades at best. They’re not Wii U-level disasters, but they’re just too “meh" to compete in a world that is increasingly mobile.

Further, I think Microsoft just created a quagmire for developers who were told time and time again that all Xbox One’s would ship with the Kinect. With the change, who in their right mind would create a game that takes full advantage of the device? And that, in turn, will ensure the device itself is not a success.

Dawn Chmielewski:

Interviews with several entertainment industry executives who have attempted to do business with Xbox Entertainment Studios describe an operation with big ambitions to dominate the living room, but one that has gotten off to a rough start.

Sources paint a picture of a disorganized studio that struggles to close deals and lacks a fully fleshed-out business model. This inability to execute has turned off potential studio partners, they say, complicating the process of securing premium content.

Welcome to the land war in Asia, Microsoft.

Natasha Lomas on how the numbers are shaping up so far in the gaming console space:

The thing is neither of these new generation console flagships is selling very well when compared with previous generations of flagship consoles. The console market appears to be shrinking significantly — and that’s evidently having a knock-on impact on games studios and game development.

At this relatively early stage the new generation stacks up as follows: Wii U at 6 million, XB1 at ~4 million and PS4 at 6 million: a total of ~16 million. So only around 244 million to go — just to perform as well as the last generation. But with game budgets increasing a flat console market isn’t a good thing. This new generation needs to be outselling the last, not looking like it’s going to have a really tough time shipping the same.

I hate to say “I told you so” …but, well, I did.

No, I don’t think so.

Microsoft’s UK marketing director Harvey Eagle, talking to Metro about the Xbox One price cut in the UK. The question asked if the price cut — just 94 days after launch — was an admission that the console isn’t selling well.

Eagle doesn’t think so. But he’s not sure. Why should he be sure? It’s only his job.

Meanwhile, while Microsoft has maintained that the Xbox One is selling as fast as the system can be made, Eagle told GameSpot: “We’re doing this because it will generate sales, absolutely.”

So, Microsoft isn’t cutting the price because it hasn’t been selling well in the UK. In fact, it has been selling as fast as possible. But this price cut is all about helping to generate more sales. Got it.

Business as usual.

Jeffrey Grubb on the latest numbers from the NPD Group:

Gamers and holiday shoppers were obviously drawn to retail outlets to pick up the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 systems from Microsoft and Sony. While those new boxes sold well, the Xbox One’s $500 price and PlayStation 4′s $400 price left little for consumers to spend on games.

Software sales were down 17 percent from $1.54 billion in 2012 to $1.2 billion in 2013. Essentially, consumers are spending just a little bit more on gaming, but most of that is going into buying the new systems.

This strikes me as a much more optimistic take than it should be. Yes, hardware sales were up — but only 28 percent over last year, despite the first two major console launches from Sony and Microsoft in seven years. And yes, there was talk of supply constraints, but these consoles are also significantly more expensive than their predecessors and sales were still only up 28 percent.

The fact that game sales were down 17 percent despite the aforementioned information is an awful sign. They’re blaming it on consumers spending too much money on the consoles, but it’s clearly more about a lack of must-have games — and the overall trend downward continuing for the industry.

Watch what happens next. My guess is that it’s not only Nintendo who starts to see red

Ian Sherr:

In the meantime, the fast pace of sales data reports will likely end, as Microsoft said Monday would be the last time it reports products sold to customers, rather than its typical practice of reporting devices sold to retailers. The former requires Microsoft to call individual retailers around the world to glean up-to-date sales data. The company will also transition back to reporting sales data on a quarterly basis, Dennis said.

What a strange end to a seemingly positive story. Is this really such a pain, or is it indicative of something to come? While sold-to-customers is a straightforward metric that can’t easily be fudged, sold-to-retailers is almost always misleading because… retailers aren’t actually consumers and those aren’t actually sales.

Takashi Amano & Cliff Edwards are full of bad news ahead for Nintendo:

Nintendo Co.’s prospects for meeting its profit and sales forecasts for this year are diminishing after Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. each sold more game consoles in 24 hours than the Wii U maker did in nine months.

Not good — especially when you consider:

President Satoru Iwata vowed in October he would meet a forecast for 100 billion yen ($974 million) in full-year operating profit and 9 million units in Wii U sales. Analysts are skeptical, with the average estimate for profit at 57 billion yen and for sales at 6.2 million units.

That’s a huge gap. We’ll see, but it’s definitely not looking good:

Those moves may not be enough to make up lost ground, as the company sold just 460,000 Wii U machines in the six months ended Sept. 30, about 5 percent of its target for the fiscal year. Nintendo reported a net loss of 8 billion yen in the quarter ended Sept. 30, saying Wii U hardware “still has a negative impact on Nintendo’s profits.”

Five percent of the yearly target, six months in. And:

Shares of Nintendo have lost 82 percent of their value since closing at 72,100 yen in November 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Yikes. And that’s with the stock gaining 41 percent this year. And:

The Wii U features a tablet-like, 6.2-inch touchscreen controller that lets players connect wirelessly to the console and shift the display between the device and a television. In the nine months from January through September, the company sold 850,000 — fewer than Sony and Microsoft did during the first day their new consoles were released.

Hard to overstate just how awful and embarrassing that is — especially since those consoles don’t seem that great either.

This is turning very ugly very quickly for Nintendo — which is sad, but not shocking.

Samuel Gibbs:

The cause appears to be the difference in refresh rates between UK and US TV sets and services. In the UK, the TV broadcast standard is 50Hz, or 50 frames per second (FPS), which most television set top boxes including Sky, Virgin and Freeview services output. In the US, the standard is 60Hz or 60FPS, and by default the Xbox One is set to the US, not UK standard.

"Assuming the reports are true, this represents a significant issue Microsoft has to address," Richard Leadbetter of visual testing company Digital Foundry told Eurogamer. "Displaying 50Hz video at 60Hz means that every sixth frame will be a duplicate, resulting in noticeable judder on a lot of material – scrolling text on news channels, fast pans in TV and movies, and the left to right sweep of the camera in football matches."

Microsoft said that it is aware of the issue, but did not have a comment at the time of publication. 

What a colossal fuck-up. How on Earth do you release a product so focused on television and not realize that the UK has a different broadcast standard? You had one job.

And guess what?

Leadbetter said that there are no easy solutions to the difference between 50 and 60Hz, and that altering a 50Hz picture to match a 60Hz refresh rate would likely have a detrimental impact on image quality. It is unknown how Microsoft is going to deal with the issue.

Heads are undoubtedly going to roll over this.

Chris Kohler has a good post on the end of an era (that era being the last generation of gaming consoles). Humorously, looking back revealed this tidbit:

“Imagine players slapping down $.99 to buy a one-of-a-kind, fully tricked-out racing car to be the envy of their buddies,” Microsoft wrote in a 2005 press release. In Forza Motorsport 5 for the Xbox One, you can slap down cash to buy a fully tricked-out car, but it costs ninety-nine dollars.

That’s an increase slightly higher than the rate of inflation, I imagine. Welcome to the next generation of gaming, folks!

Anonymous asked:

A few video game notes: The PS4 controller has received near-unanimous praise for being one of the best controllers ever made. Most consoles launch fairly lacklustre -- the PS2 and DS had awful launch lineups. This iOS vs consoles narrative is at odds with how gamers actually look at this stuff -- it's like saying YouTube is going to destroy Hollywood. While tech pundits talk about Nintendo dying, they've sold close to 40m 3DSes, and are going into the holiday with a new Pokemon game.

Point 1: From what I’ve read, a lot of people are praising the PS4 controller, but mainly because the PS3 version was so bad. Also, the battery life on this one is apparently fairly awful. Overall, it still seems like people still like the Xbox controllers better, at least in my reading of the reviews.

Point 2: Sure, most console launches are fairly lackluster due to a lack of great games initially. But while this seems to be the case with the PS4, the parts of the reviews that worry me about the Xbox One are all about hardware/software included (or not included) with the system.

Point 3: Okay, except mobile gaming is already much larger than console gaming. And it will keep extending that lead. I’m not saying the consoles will be fully destroyed, just that they’ll be increasingly niche. And I wouldn’t be shocked to see at least two of the current players exit the space after this generation. 

Point 4: We’ve been over this. Some of Nintendo’s continued limited success (in one area, by the way) is masking very real and obvious problems with the business going forward. We’ll see. But sadly, I like my bet.

Anonymous asked:

Do you intend on trying out an Xbox One yourself or merely peddling other people's experiences on your blog? I understand you're not a fan of MS but your mindless reposts do your readers a great disservice.

I may. But all these reports from others sure make it seem like it would be a waste of money for me — just as the Surface RT was.

If I were to buy a system, just based on everything I’ve read, I’d get the PS4. But again, I’m not dying to get that either. 

But maybe, just maybe, for the readers.