How can we put this?
The Xbox One Reveal was not to everyone’s tastes. OK. It wasn’t to the majority of people’s tastes. Despite the chortling at the name, the look of the console, the fact that Kinect needs to be connected at all times, and that playing a preowned game will cost you more than it used to, we’re convinced that Microsoft did at least a few things right.
At a “reveal” event, you expect the company doing the revealing to actual reveal the product that they’re revealing. Microsoft did exactly that, showing off the console, controller, new Kinect device, logo, and name within the first five minutes. They allayed our fears that they'd make massive, sweeping changes to the best controller in gaming, too.
Now then. “Hardcore gamers” don’t care about Call of Duty: Ghosts, or FIFA 14. In fact, it’s become something of a badge of honour to hate on those franchises as if it was your job. Quite why, we don’t know, given that they’re generally very good games. But the haters aren’t in the majority, no matter what they think. Call of Duty Black Ops II pulled in $500 million in sales on day one, and went on to sell 7.5 million copies over the course of its first 18 days on sale. FIFA 13 has sold 14.5 million units worldwide, pulled in many hundreds of millions of dollars in in-game sales, and became the first soccer game to reach the yearly top 10 bestsellers list in the USA.
Whether you love them or hate them (we’re partial to a bit of FIFA, it has to be said), those titles MATTER to the industry as a whole. Getting confirmation that they’ll land on the new machine and that – given likely Xbox One launch timing – they’ll probably be launch titles, was a great move. As we say, whether you like it or not, those games will help sell consoles. When you sell consoles, you build a base of installed users. When you’ve got a base of installed users, more people want to make games for your machine.
Ok, this didn’t happen at the reveal show itself, but within an hour of the show finishing, we had confirmation that Kinect would need to be hooked up at all times, the machine wouldn’t be backwards compatible, and that preowned games would need to be re-licenced in order to play them. Some won’t care about those things, but a lot of people obviously do.
The fact is that from here the only way is up for Microsoft in terms of PR. In a shade over two weeks, Microsoft’s entirely games-focused E3 press conference will have served to – hopefully – boost the console’s prospects with a stack of new IPs and titles from first and third parties, and to quieten the naysayers who are still bleating about there not being any games coming for the machine, despite having only seen the hardware reveal so far. Most of Xbox One’s tough questions – barring the pricing of the device – have been answered already. Sony still have to confirm their stance on preowned, show off the device itself and hey, is that new PS Eye going to need to be connected at all times? Who knows? We’re not saying that it will (or that it’s a bad thing, as it doesn’t matter to us) but it could do.
And we know, it’s ridiculous to make a purchasing decision based on the look of the console, but some people clearly view it as massively important. But whatever works for you, y’know?
Given how – ahem – recent reveal events have gone, what Microsoft showed could have taken a LOT longer. They could have spent twenty minutes on the Halo TV series easily, and half an hour telling us about why they designed the console in the way that they have, and what influenced them. Instead, we got a whistle-stop tour of the entertainment features, a game or two, some information on other media projects, and that was that – all within sixty minutes.
This is going to be a more contentious one than the others but however you look at it, Microsoft pricked people’s ears up. We didn’t necessarily hear what we wanted to hear, but they got people listening and talking. That’s the first goal when it comes to PR. If nobody’s talking, nobody’s listening. If nobody’s listening, you can’t sell anyone anything.
So while it wasn’t necessarily a great message to kick off with – it wouldn’t have been our choice – it’s an understandable one. People are talking. A good percentage of people are convinced, and a very vocal percentage are making their feelings known, as is their right. The console is sitting at the top of the ShopTo.net preorder chart (with Forza 5 in second place) and will likely reach similar heights at Amazon and Gamestop when they start taking orders. Microsoft have set up the chance to knock it out of the park at E3. People have switched from “what does the console look like?”, “what will it be called?” and “how powerful will it be?”, and have transitioned to “well, that was underwhelming, so you had better do something spectacular at E3…and we’ll be watching to see if you do.”
More people will be watching the E3 conferences this year than ever before. Hardcore gamers, casual gamers, families – they’ll all be checking it out to see what the score is as we head into the next generation. If Microsoft knock in a home run or two with the software, then you never know how this supposed battle is going to play out. We're not for a second saying that the Xbox One Reveal was perfect - far, FAR from it - just that the Big M at least got some things right.