Tweaking The Xbox One Game Plan

With the new generation of gaming upon us, the race for console dominance has just begun—again. Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 are all geared up to duke it out in what should be a very interesting battle of the boxes.

There is no question that Sony has garnered the hearts and minds of gamers thus far in the console war, capitalizing on each and every blunder Microsoft made early on. And while the gap between the two still feels apparent, all is not lost. There are a few things Microsoft could do to ensure control of their destiny.

Remove Entertainment Apps From Under The Xbox Live Umbrella. One of the top complaints against Xbox is that entertainment apps are under a paid umbrella, in effect making Xbox users pay twice for most entertainment services. This is by far the most egregious of things about the Xbox as a console. Developers have to pay a lot of money to get their apps approved on the console, and then Microsoft is making users pay to use them. Microsoft, stop it.

Include Xbox Music in Xbox Live. What if Microsoft increased the value of Xbox Live by offering a full-fledged Xbox Music Pass with your live account. It would not only bolster Xbox Music as a platform, but also give faithful gold members added value to their yearly subscription purchase. Now that every mobile platform has an Xbox Music app, the season is ripe to lure others into the Xbox Music ecosystem. At the very least, gold members should be given an allotted amount of hours for streaming on the console per month, much like users of Windows 8 get.

Fully Integrate Xbox One and Windows 8 Games. While we wait for the indie-scene to fully come to fruition on Xbox One, Microsoft could really have a true Trojan horse if it implemented Windows 8 Games. I have to admit that thus far the Windows 8 game offerings haven’t been as strong as their Windows Phone 8 counterparts, but they are there—and growing fast.

Find A Way To Close The Price Gap. When asked about the motivating factor for purchasing a PlayStation 4 over an Xbox One, the number one excuse is almost certainly the fact that the PlayStation 4 is one-hundred dollars cheaper. And even the most avid Xbox fan has to agree. So in the long run, Microsoft has to find a way to bridge the price gap. And although there is a clear argument that you are getting a greater value with the greater price, it doesn’t refute the fact that almost everyone will consider the price gap when choosing a console—especially mothers. And as much as I hate to say it, un-bundling the Kinect may be the only option. Or re-introduce their subsidy pricing program.

Looking back at the amount of change the Xbox 360 made over its lifespan, brings a promising outlook on how much the Xbox One and even the PlayStation 4 could evolve over the course of their lifetimes. Of course the most obvious answer that I left out from above was to have great games. Since the hardware is set in stone, software will make the difference, weather is be in the form of games, apps, or services. This will certainly be a great generation, and I for one can’t wait to see how it all shakes out.

Originally posted on on Sunday, November 17th, 2013.