There’s no way around it: PlayStaion won this generation. Starting with a bad reveal that garnered outrage and forced a lot of backtracking, Microsoft has been playing catch-up for the entire generation. It got so bad that Microsoft stopped reporting sales figures for the Xbox One.
For what it’s worth, they’ve done a lot of recovery since 2013. Even better, Microsoft has been preparing for next gen for a while now. That inspires a lot of confidence in gamers. So what are some things Microsoft can do to win the next generation of console wars? Here are a few ideas.
Launch with Better Tech
At launch, the PS4 and Xbox One weren’t too different in terms of power. Both consoles basically gave us the same experience with their hardware. It was mostly up to individual preference. With each sides’ latest iterations—the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X—the gap has widened, and the Xbox One X is more powerful.
Microsoft needs to make sure that the Xbox Series X outclasses the PS5 at launch or they’ll quickly lag behind. Gamers want the more powerful console. If consumers feel like they could get a better experience elsewhere because of stronger hardware, people will migrate away. Even if it’s minuscule, the impression of being the top dog at launch goes a long way for sales numbers.
Better Public Image
Microsoft has been looking good recently. A lot of Sony’s momentum this generation came at Microsoft’s expense. A series of good moves has made Xbox fans very happy: the Elite Controller, Xbox Game Pass, endorsing crossplay…the list goes on. PlayStation succeeded on the legacy of their previous consoles. Microsoft messed up badly but has built all of their goodwill to make up for it. That’s extra momentum Sony doesn’t have with the PS4.
So long as we don’t have another Xbox One launch experience, Microsoft is going to make a great return on all the goodwill they’ve built this generation. Considering how well Phil Spencer has been at keeping news on the Xbox brand positive, that seems very likely.
Focus on Gaming
Microsoft’s biggest mistake this generation was losing focus. They marketed the Xbox One as an entertainment hub. Having a range of things the Xbox can do is great, but they can’t forget the main intent: gaming. Microsoft also messed up by shipping the launch models with Kinects, adding a hefty (and unnecessary) $100 to the price tag. That killed a lot of interest in the console. Even a good number of Xbox fans kept their 360s until they could get a cheaper Xbox One without a Kinect they wouldn’t use.
The answer is simple: focus on gamers and making their experience the best one in gaming. Thankfully, everything shown off for the Xbox Series X suggests that Microsoft has learned their lesson. Gaming is the forefront of the Xbox Series X, exactly as it should be.
Take Advantage of IP
Microsoft has a nice selection of IPs and they should take advantage of them. There are the classics such as Halo, Gears of War, and Forza.Microsoft has a nice selection of IPs and they should take advantage of them. There are the classics such as Halo, Gears of War, and Forza. If Microsoft is going to rely on the classics, they need to evolve those brands, not just rehash them.
We absolutely need to avoid franchise fatigue. As such, it would be smart to explore some of the underused IPs at their disposal. Fable 4 and a sequel to Sunset Overdrive would breathe new life into franchises currently gathering dust. Ryse, a lackluster Xbox One launch title, could offer great gameplay now that Microsoft isn’t obsessed with the Kinect. Heck, even Sea of Thieves has room for more sandbox fun.
Exclusives are a huge deciding factor between consoles. Microsoft needs to make good use of theirs.
Xbox Game Pass and Library Expansion
Xbox Games Pass is one of the best deals in gaming. For a monthly subscription, you get access to dozens of titles. Sony’s PlayStation Now honestly can’t compete. Microsoft knows how much power they wield here and they need to maintain that dominance. At best, Sony must compete. At worst, Microsoft has yet another selling point over their competition.
On top of Game Pass, backwards compatibility and expanding titles is paramount to winning this gen. Sony had a long line of exclusives for the PS4. Microsoft has been buying studios and developing games for next gen for a few years now. All that prep work needs to result in great titles. Having more exclusives won’t matter if none of them are hits on release.
Ultimately, Microsoft’s horrible start in this console generation may have been their saving grace. It gave the company a wake-up call and let them focus on how to do things right. Any Xbox fan should be excited. Microsoft is in a good position to win the next gen. All they have to do is get off on the right foot.