Microsoft announced this week that it has decided to launch its anticipated console, the Xbox One, on November 22. On that day, the device will finally have a chance to appeal to consumers looking for a next-generation gaming experience and possibly kick off the next phase in Microsoft’s development as a go-to console maker.
Of course, all of that assumes that Microsoft was competing in a vacuum. And unfortunately for the company, it isn’t. Everything about the November 22 launch date is wrong. And before long, it’ll go down as one of the biggest blunders Microsoft has made in the gaming business.
Blunders seem to be a common thread with the Xbox One to this point. Microsoft announced the device with several features, including the requirement to connect to the Web each day, that annoyed gamers. Microsoft also forced Kinects on players and at first, left the headset out of the console’s bundle. After rampant outcry, Microsoft was forced to fix its mistakes and admit its error. Needless to say, the console got off on the wrong foot.
But little did we know that that would only be the beginning. Now Microsoft is saying that the Xbox One will launch on November 22 without acknowledging the very real possibility of it being ignored by gamers who have a finite amount of cash to spend on consoles.
See, the trouble for Microsoft is that a week prior, on November 15, Sony will be launching its PlayStation 4 console. To make matters worse, that console will likely offer around the same graphical ability, a solid launch lineup, and a $100 cheaper price tag than the Xbox One. It’s also launching in an important time in the holiday-shopping season and could very well gobble up some of the cash people expect to spend this year.
It won’t be until seven days later that Microsoft finally makes its sales pitch to consumers. Undoubtedly, the die-hard gamers out there will pick up both consoles, and Microsoft’s loyal fans will buy the Xbox One. But what about all of the other early adopters that don’t have a dog in the fight and just want to see what all of the hype is about surrounding this generation of hardware? What makes Microsoft believe that those folks would buy the Xbox One over the PlayStation 4?
Let’s be honest about what November will look like. Both Sony and Microsoft are launching about even game libraries at launch. Both consoles will also come with nearly the same graphical ability and Blu-ray support. Both devices will support online experiences and entertainment offerings. Both devices have somewhat nice designs.
The only difference at first blush, therefore, is the price. And at $399, the PlayStation 4 is more attractive than the Xbox One. Oh, and there’s one more difference: the Xbox One is launching in North America a week later.
Now, Microsoft would contend that it’s actually splitting the difference. After all, the PlayStation 4 is hitting European store shelves a week after the Xbox One comes out in major markets. But as history has proven, North America is the key market at launch. And in that space, Microsoft is falling short.
Microsoft’s Xbox One is suffering from one misstep after another. And unfortunately for the company, this one might be its worst yet.