The numbers have been coming out, and frankly, it's not looking good for Microsoft
. While it's posting some decent numbers--word direct from Microsoft says that the company brought out 3.9 million as of December 31, with an unknown quantity since--the word from Sony sounds like it at least rhymes with "Microsoft got its collective hat handed to it. But how to recover from this less than advantageous position? That's a good question, and one that needs answered.
First, some background: Sony is counting 5.3 million PlayStation 4
units sold, and that's before the console even makes its debut in Japan, where it's almost certain to destroy Microsoft in much the same fashion it has in the past. That's likely to give Sony a huge edge in terms of install base, which in turn is likely to draw more users to it, more developers to it, and more games to it. Not that Microsoft's install base is a slouch, of course--in all likelihood it's now up over four million even--but it's still got a fairly big potential to be left behind. How to solve it, though? You didn't just come here to hear me wax poetic on how badly Microsoft's getting shellacked in the open market; you came here for insight and solutions. Well sir--or ma'am, depending, we're all about equal opportunity 'round these parts--that's what I've got. So to answer my own question, here's how Microsoft can come back from the comparatively bad footing on which it finds itself.
1. Step up the game releases. I know it's just a couple months after launch, and everything takes time. But as we've discovered with Nintendo, a dearth of games doesn't sell systems. The more games, and the more good games, Microsoft can get out in the field, the better off not only it will be, but the better off we'll all be besides. Bringing out the games will not only show off why it's worth sticking with Microsoft, but why it's also worth picking up a new Xbox One
console, specifically, for all the games.
2. Turn to the indies. It's directly related to number one, but turning to the indies will likely pay off in a bumper crop of games that could really help boost the sheer numbers between now and when the major developers get the full game going. Sure, you can't really build a platform on "Attack of the Zombie Horde 2"--which is actually kind of fun, even if it wears out its welcome kind of quick--but short, casual, fun experiences like this should help while filling in the "TBA" gulf that's going on currently.
3. Suck it up and ditch the Kinect. Guys, I understand. Believe me. You wanted the Kinect to be part of the Next Big Thing in gaming. You wanted a common platform to help developers. You wanted fancy motion controls and voice-based reactions. But here's the thing: gamers don't want that. You make products for gamers. Make what the gamers want or they won't buy it. At the very least, make the Kinect a separate item so that people can space out the purchasing. It's a weak economy, and no one's interested in shelling out cash that doesn't need to be shelled out unless it's for something very good or very important. Sony's got an edge on you thanks to that $100 discount over you that they get just for buying Sony. To get that back you need a price cut, and the Kinect is a great place to start cutting.
There's still a lot of hope for Microsoft to gain back some losses. Even with the current numbers sold, there are plenty of people waiting on the sidelines for a price drop or at least for more games to make an appearance. But with Microsoft already behind and the Japanese release about to make the gap even wider, Microsoft is increasingly behind the eight ball. Sony was in this position in the last generation, and Microsoft, it seems, will have some lessons of its own to learn before it's all said and done.