Wrapping it All Up
As we get closer to the next generation of console launches, we're seeing Microsoft get further away from the community and core gamer values it created for the Xbox 360 while at the same time we're seeing Sony migrate and adapt towards the same values Microsoft seems to be abandoning. Where Microsoft was once the community champion, pulling for the little blogger and the indie, Sony seems to be stepping in. Microsoft is going for a different audience altogether, focusing on broad entertainment coverage instead of the core demographic.
I fully believe the reason Microsoft was so successful this generation was because of their initial focus on community. This drive of people to the platform coupled with the Xbox Live service and the social aspects of it, is what kept people buying multiplatform titles on the Xbox 360. Time and time again I'd hear people say, "I'm getting the Xbox 360 version because that's where my friends are getting it and I want to play with them online."
Core gamers, the gamers that are willing to drop $400 on a console launch and buy a new game every release day are what drive hardware adoption. These are "the friends that get the game." With E3 right around the corner, Microsoft is going to have a lot of work to clean up the PR disaster of the Xbox One reveal. They need to sell their console to the core - show that's where the games are going to be. There's no doubt in my mind core gamers love Netflix, and movies, and technology and everything else - but they already have dozens of devices that are doing the same. Those features won't drive them to buy into the console. Microsoft has said the show would focus on games, so let's hope they deliver.
Some of the Gamerscore Blog team during a Halo 3 Community Event Prior to Launch of the Game
Sony has already sold their messaging to the core gamer. They showed off a dozen games, they showed off the system's "power." They told us why and how independent developers can create new experiences on their platform. They talked about the social aspects of the PlayStation 4 and how we can game together in new ways. Sony seems to have learned from their past mistakes and is trying to make amends.
While it might seem that a chunk of this article is in reaction to the Xbox One reveal and the possible policies surrounding it, I hope I've shown that Microsoft has been changing their focus for some time now and the reveal was merely the bigger stage for it. Could this convergence for consoles and the evolution of their games distribution see a gradual migration toward or back to Steam and the PC? Some say it's already happening, but that's a conversation for another day.
The console gaming industry is changing, there's no doubt about it. I've been in this hobby for almost 30 years now and have seen trends come and go. The thing about trends is it's difficult to know what is becoming the new normal and what will become a bad memory. It's easy to get caught up in all of the politics of the gaming industry. It's easy to get angry with companies for changing what you were already enjoying. As consumers, as fans, as gamers we still hold the power to say what we want, play what we enjoy and control where we spend our money. And that is something Sony and Microsoft always take into consideration.
Additional Editing by: Andrew Gaskill and Jason Love