Is a video game only as good as the console on which a gamer plays it? Or is the console only as appealing as the games available to play on it? For Microsoft, these questions are both critical and, ultimately, irrelevant. To succeed in the incredibly competitive console gaming market, it needs to make both its consoles and its games irresistible to consumers.
Since the device’s release, Microsoft has sold more than 3 million of its Xbox One consoles. That number might sound impressive—until, that is, we realize that Sony moved 4.2 million versions of its Playstation 4 in the same period. Falling behind in this market can spark a downward spiral, so Microsoft needed some way to attract more buyers.
Its solution is to solicit, introduce, and market the greatest game ever. Its Titanfall title promises to redefine the first-person shooter game category. Microsoft even refers to it as a new category of combat games. Although in many ways it is similar to existing games—it shows the perspective of the shooter, and the graphics are remarkable—Titanfall is unlike other options in terms of the way players connect. In particular, it can only be played with multiple participants, not by a single gamer alone. To support their interactions, Titanfall uses players’ Internet connections to link to Microsoft servers that run the game. These powerful servers can speed up the game action and produce the vivid images constantly. Games that rely solely on the power available through individual consoles lack such capacities.
Microsoft has some experience to suggest this strategy might work. Its popular Halo title essentially established the popularity of the very first Xbox. In an effort to ensure that Titanfall achieves a similar level of success, Microsoft promised a free copy of the game to every player who purchased an Xbox console for $499. Because the game retails for $60, the deal seems like a good one for consumers who would have bought both components even at full price. But is the appeal enough to entice those gamers who are dedicated to Sony consoles or who had no plans to upgrade to a new version any time soon?
Source: Ian Sherr, “For Microsoft’s Xbox One, ‘Titanfall’ Could Be Game Changer” The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2014, http://online.wsj.com