You’re probably asking yourself “what the hell was THAT?”
I did, for more than a little while. This was a gaming console launch that barely had anything to do with games. “Casual”, “hardcore”, pay-to-play or free-to-play, forget all of it. It was about TELEVISION more than anything else.
What that says to me is that Sony isn’t really the target here. It’s Apple, and maybe Samsung. Microsoft knows that the 360 is their biggest asset right now in the consumer space. Windows is doing well enough, but nobody’s really inclined towards upgrading their existing PCs. They’re buying tablets and phones to accompany their PCs, and Microsoft isn’t doing that well in those spaces yet.
(Though I do still like the Surface Pro.)
No, if MS wants to be a player in the consumer space, their ace-in-the-hole is the 360 and the XBOX brand. They’ve got a solid lock on people’s televisions, and a burning need to leverage the hell out of it.
That’s exactly what they were doing over the last hour. It’s a broadside at Apple and Samsung/Google. They focused on TV because their main consumer device attaches to televisions. The face that it’s theoretically a gaming console is incidental; games have almost nothing to do with their vision for the XBOX One. Games are an incidental means-to-an-end, and it shows.
They’re probably more interested in free-to-play tablet-style “casual” games than the big ol’ console experiences in the first place, since they’re cheaper to make and are seen as a more profitable and safer investment right now. That may change, as we saw with Facebook gaming, but it’s where things are right now, and this is a console that only looks at gaming right now.
This provides a huge opening for Sony. Almost every time a console is successful, the manufacturer gets arrogant. In the case of Sony with the PS2 and now Microsoft with the XBOX One, they start thinking they can leverage it into control of the living room. Sony backed away from that, which is a large reason why the PS2 was as successful as it was. They made it into a gaming console, and it turned out to be a really good one.
What Sony realized and MS needs to realize is that people neither want nor need a gaming console to be their “All In One Device”, especially when they live their lives surrounded by a multiplicity of screens. They might want those screens to coordinate, but they don’t want some sort of single device dominating and controlling them. There IS no “All In One”, and there probably never will be. Sony gets that this time. Nintendo’s understood it since the get-go.
Leverage or no, I guess the question is whether MS will figure it out before they get trounced.
(Edit: Oh, and the fact that it’s not backwards compatible is absolutely ridiculous. The 360 is off-the-shelf hardware. This was a cynical business decision that is only going to hurt their brand.)
(Edit 2: And it blocks rental and used games, too! This just keeps getting better. We really are in “everything that’s terrible about PC gaming with none of the good stuff” territory. At least PC games are backwards compatible.)