on Jul 9, 2013
My column this week is some earnest advice for the beleaguered folks heading up the Xbox One project. I know that it probably won’t be read by the Intended Parties, and even if it was it’s probably too late to make any changes. But it’s still worth saying. If I was working on the Xbox One I’d be terrified of launching the console without making substantive changes to how it operates and how the public perceives it.
This morning I came across an article on Ars Technica outlining Microsoft’s plans to integrate advertising with the Kinect. This is exactly the sort of thing they should not be messing around with at this stage. Consumers will be deeply offended if their $500 entertainment system presumes to suck away little bits of the entertainment time with stupid little advertisements.
Even from a purely Machiavellian standpoint, it makes no sense to have this feature at launch. Advertising money is a nice little bonus for a company trying to get a bit more of a return on their investment, but it’s nothing compared to the money to be made selling actual games and Xbox Live Gold subscriptions. This isn’t the kind of thing you want people to be thinking about when they’re at the store and trying to decide between the $500 Xbone and the $400 PS4. Microsoft should be hiding this card away. If they’re lucky enough to survive launch and sell some consoles, then maybe they can think about squeezing their customer base for pennies.
I don’t have a lot of hope that Microsoft can turn it around, but I think we’re much better off if the big consoles are all healthy and slugging it out for our affections.