Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Xbox One drops the Kinect, this June.

Microsoft announced today that they're thrilled to deliver more choice to their fans, in the way they buy Xbox One - meaning, while they're not exactly getting their asses handed to them by Sony's PS4, Sony's slight lead is enough for them to drop the One's now-central feature in order to compete on price - and the Kinect-less One will retail for ohhh exactly what a PS4 costs.

Reaction across the 'net has ranged from "well duh" to "nooo!" There are those who suggest that by removing the Kinect standard from Xbox One, Microsoft will (1) hobble development of any and all original, unique Kinect games by splitting the Xbox One user base into folks who have Kinect and those who don't (2) force an update of the One's UI, which I hear is a hassle to navigate without Kinect, and (3) completely abandons their messaging on the One from last year (for like, the third time) when they tried to tell us how it was going to revolutionize how we comb our hair and would, periodically, produce pans of bakery-fresh cinnamon rolls when it wasn't busy performing oral sex on us - and some people really bought in to that messaging.  Those people are hurting, today.

I fall into the "well duh" camp.  This gives the One price parity with the PS4, and that may be all it needs to regain the lead in North America (I can guarantee a sales boost, at least).  I - and I trust Sony - aren't blind to the fact that the PS4's lead over the One is very largely due to the more-attractive price point.  Ninety-nine percent of folks out there with Ones and PS4s can't tell you that the PS4 uses GDDR5 ram while the One uses DDR3.  They don't know about the specs.  They don't care - they saw the price, saw that both had Assassin's Creed IV and bought the cheaper one.

Come this June, when they walk into a Best Buy and see an equivalent price, they won't see a reason to choose the PS4 over the Xbox, in terms of their wallet - and Sony should be worried about that.

Sony, there is literally nothing else for it.  You need to cut the price on the 4.

Just do it, Sony.  It'll let you maintain your lead.  And you want that - 'cause let's be honest, the only thing surprising about this is what on Earth took Microsoft so long.

Now, don't be all Sony about this.  Don't say to yourselves "the quality of our exclusive titles and first-party studios will surely speak to the value of our system."  No!  Bad Sony.  Think of Joe and Jane public who don't understand what GDDR5 is.  When they walk in to a Wal-Mart and see an Xbox One for $399, what do you think would sway them towards purchasing another console?



  1. Honestly, I think Sony's best move is actually just to keep on truckin'.

    As we've seen happen already, Brand Loyalty™ is not really a thing, so people who were desperate for a Next-Gen system have already bought into what they want. Sony probably got a -lot- more of the XBox audience than Microsoft would like, and that's just how it is. This announcement isn't for them.

    People shopping for a console later on this year? If they're going to get an XBone, it's -more- likely due to the fact that Microsoft has and will continue to spend millions on advertising the shit out of it, but they're not going to make that back from the sales they're going to get, not to mention the massive sunk costs into Kinect and the R&D which will now be for absolutely nothing because pretty much nobody is going to buy the thing now. If they do manage to start pulling ahead and taking "First Place" in USA? It'll most definitely be a Pyrrhic Victory.

    Meanwhile, if Sony just keeps on, keeps up with Exclusives and PS+ as it is, entices people with PS Now and maybe some other neat stuff? That Price Parity ain't gonna mean much to anyone in the know, because it -will- be the more enticing option.

    The only people the Price Parity is really for are the people who don't know better, and $400 for a Playstation or an XBox will probably have them going "But we already have a ". It's not going to be competitive on that front for another year or two when we can actually expect to start seeing the $50 or $100 drops. For right now, it's too soon.

    Sony isn't Nintendo, after all. A price drop this early might burn goodwill from the people who already have one who are currently waiting for new exclusives to drop.

    1. I dunno, man. Sony gained their current place by being proactive, listening to the consumer and delivering - basically by out-manoeuvring Microsoft - if they keep doing that, ie, continue to have a lower-priced current-gen console, they'll continue winning.

    2. If I've learned anything, it's that Gamers are finnicky and if you earn their hate, it lasts. See: EA.

      Microsoft more or less out-maneuvered themselves, really. Just like Sony did with the PS3. The 360 was more or less a success because Sony shot themselves in the foot several times and smugly smiled at everyone while doing it, which turned everyone off to them. Yes, they won back the goodwill....over the seven years after the PS3 was launched, by being proactive yes, but not exactly in -response- to anything. I.E. what was the Instant Game Collection in response to? Nothing, it was just a cool thing that they decided to do.

      Microsoft did the exact same thing. They were so smugly self-assured of their own success that they decided to try and implement something that -any- company would have been able to see as a bad thing and while they went back on it all faster than Sony did (which, Sony's real problem at the start of the last gen was mostly price), the damage has been well and truly done.

      My sister, who bought her kids a 360 (well, her husband bought it, really) after I heavily advised for the PS3 (even going so far as to offer to share my games -shudder-) and has seen how much they enjoy it and generally liked the XBox brand because of it, went to me when the whole kerfuffle was new and said "So the new XBox is kind of bad, isn't it?" She is the exact type of person Microsoft wanted for a future purchase and who knows if she's even going to consider it because that initial impression is basically all she knows about it because she's not so concerned that she's going to look it up or anything. All this stuff that's happened in the meanwhile? When/if she finds out about it, she'll go "What, but what's the catch?" or something similar. It is tainted goods.

      This "Do everything the internet tells us" approach that Microsoft is taking isn't going to earn them back that many fans, and even then, not nearly soon enough to make a difference.