Why the Scorpio Alone Won’t Save Xbox

The launch of Scorpio was an attempt to regain [both mind and] market share. After months of people comparing resolutions and FPS of the launch-PS4 and Xbox One, Microsoft decided they needed to do something. With whispers of a PS4.5, they knew if they wanted to even walk into the shadow of PS4’s sales numbers they’d need to come out with better tech. And if the spec rumors are true, they will do just that this fall.

Unfortunately, for both Microsoft and the consumer, their engineering feat alone will not drive people to turn on their consoles. If Microsoft’s business team does not make deals with developers for second or third party exclusives, it doesn’t matter how good the games look on an Xbox One. Tech specs don’t matter if you don’t have beautiful games to showcase them.

Things were looking up for Microsoft when they announced their Universal Windows Platform (UMP) system. Players could now play a selection of games they’d purchased on the Xbox Live store on their Windows 10 PC. At first glance, it sounds like an amazing value proposition, finally you could buy your games in one place and play them across multiple devices, unfortunately for all involved, it was a great idea – that was only half-baked.

The problem that Microsoft created for themselves with the UWP system was: even with the release of the Scorpio Microsoft could no longer say that a game was “exclusively on Xbox.” Gamers have no reason to spend that much on a system, with the power equivalent to a Nvidia 7xx GPU, when their computer’s hardware made that GPU obsolete years ago. Players now had no explicit reason to buy an Xbox aside from brand loyalty and the fact that they might have friends on the same system.

But I did not write this piece to simply rain on Microsoft’s parade. They now have the strongest console on the market, and they’ve positioned themselves in a place of strength, they now need to take advantage of that position.

Despite PC’s becoming the ultimate powerhouses, some still find it a stretch to achieve 4K on two individual lenses on a VR device. If out of the box the Xbox Scorpio can provide players with a VR opportunity that they can’t get on their PC or their Playstation 4 (regular or Pro) they may have a winner on their hands. Now, Xbox CEO Phil Spencer has already said that the Xbox “Scorpio” will offer a VR experience, although he hasn’t delved into whether that will be software or hardware driven. He’s also brought up that he does not want Scorpio exclusives, and that he dislikes the “closed” ecosystem of the VR hardware developers, both of these comments – together in the same interview – gave me one idea, and that’s that with the strongest console platform on the market, having the ability to offer gaming experiences on both Windows and Xbox – Microsoft would win E3 in one swift movement if they provided consumers with a machine that lets them experience VR regardless of the platform. At this point,  people are investing in VR sets in a way reminiscent of the war between Betamax and VHS; people didn’t know where to put their money on such a split market. If Microsoft gives people, of all VR camps, with a platform that they can use, despite who comes out on top 5 years from now, they’d have won more than E3, they’d have created a tectonic shift in the industry.

If you haven’t purchased an Xbox yet, what would Microsoft have to announce at E3 to win you over? And if watching this after E3: did any of their announcements excite, surprise, or – even for a moment – make you want to consider purchasing either of their consoles?

– Creating the strongest dedicated gaming machine on the market was an attempt to regain mind (and by proxy) market share. 

– Unfortunately, for old and new Xbox owners alike, the graphic fidelity of your games is irrelevant if you only use the console to watch Netflix. 
– Xbox CEO promised the console will be VR compatible and would not have “Scorpio exclusive” games – locking out Legacy Xbox One owners from new titles. 
– To regain the position in the industry they held last console generation, Microsoft would have to call armistice in the VR war by allowing the Scorpio to run any V game, as if it were platform agnostic. 




How Will “News” of a Nintendo Switch Hardware Update Affect Its Launch Day Sales?

When asked about the length of the Nintendo Switch’s life cycle when speaking to Time in an interview last week Shinya Takahashi, Nintendo’s General Manager of their Software Planning & Development Division said that they might “switch it up” with the Switch. Before expanding,

Certainly, we’ve designed Nintendo Switch in a way that it can be used by consumers in the way that best suits them. I think we may see that people who have bought a Nintendo home console in the past traditionally, they may treat Switch like a home console and buy it and use it for a long period of time.

Whereas people who have been traditionally Nintendo handheld gamers, they may buy Nintendo Switch and then for example, if a new version were to come out later, then maybe they would decide to upgrade to that. Or, for example, because you can take the Joy-Con off the system, then I guess that leaves open the possibility of something else that might get attached. There’s obviously a lot of different developments that we could look at from that perspective as well.

Although not explicitly saying anything, the Deputy GM of their Planning department is insinuating something. Nintendo has never been one to go for the latest and greatest tech, and with this newest announcement it was clear that they wanted to get it out of the door with the current generation chip it rather than wait for something like a customized Tegra X1, projected to come out within the next quarter. With what some people may see as the Nintendo Switch’s “modularity,” it is not beyond imagination that the screen itself could be replaced with one containing a more powerful chipset. Or, although it would tie them down as a home console, they could turn their dock into an eGPU with a desktop sized graphics card powerful enough to push their tech up to modern gaming standards.

For a company that holds things so close to the vest, I was astonished that someone in such a high position would ‘leak’ something of this magnitude. It might not seem like a big deal initially, but once you consider that companies usually stay silent following a console release and don’t utter a word about a “slim” variant until at least a year and a half has passed – this interview seems groundbreaking. 

This announcement is comparable to Sony telling their customers, before they release the Playstation 5, that they’re going to shrink it down 16 months later and sell it to them again for $100 less. Yes, this is a beneficial snafu for the consumer, and people knowledgeable about its project cycle might have seen it coming even without this remark, but with so many seemingly harmless questions customers want to be answered, why decide to respond to this one? What was gained out of revealing potential development plans; conceivably putting the sales of its initial release at risk?  Now anyone on the fence about purchasing it on release date might roll the dice and wait – albeit for a day that might never come – for this “upgraded version.” potentially costing Nintendo in the long run. 

How YouTube Content Creators Can Help Save Your Ad Budget

Although CES 2017 was open to news organizations two and a half days ago, their public floor opened today January 5th. With a lot of interesting things on the horizon, one thing, in particular, stood out to me, and it was the sudden implementation of YouTubers as disseminators of information.

Along with various other YouTubers Marques Brownlee (MKBHD), one of the site’s most prominent tech bloggers, has taken to documenting and reviewing his new Tesla. Sharing not only general information, which can easily be shared through advertisements or marketing campaigns, these YouTubers also become an avenue for consumer to consumer opinion sharing. There is no pressure to buy because you’re not being sold anything. There’s no transaction, just a casual sharing of views.

Somewhere along the line Mercedes’s marketing team took notice and decided to put their new self-driving car into Marques’ hands. Now, a lot of people might not find this enlightening – it is far from a revolutionary idea – but the fact that Mercedes came down from their ivory tower to talk to us “little people” is a stark change from the norm. Most companies spend millions on promotions and advertising only to reach a fraction of their target audience. But by using a prominent YouTuber, whose niche is tech, Mercedes is marketing to a pre-made audience whose demographic and interests they already know. It provides an opportunity for consumer opinion to be heard, without a dime on advertising being spent. It cost them absolutely nothing to bring him into a parking lot and give him a few hours with their prototype, and they’ve instantly reached a consumer base that they may have missed if advertising on TV.

As David Scott reminded us in The New Rules of Marketing and PR, a lot of buyers search a car company’s website looking for useful information on a car they’re considering, but the manufacturer assumes they’re already ready to buy, providing none of the information the shopper is looking for. They advertise TO them, instead of sharing pertinent information about their product offerings. By giving YouTubers early access to the product, they’ve provided consumers with another avenue to receive information, one that allows education about a product in a way that the company’s website couldn’t provide.

Using YouTube and the platform’s most prominent and up and coming content creators is an insightful choice on Mercedes’s part, and I hope many other companies take note – or risk falling behind.

– You (companies) need to start getting your products into the hands of top YouTubers that vblog about / voice interest in your industry.
– You get free targeted advertising rather than having to spend money blanketing a general demographic.
– Presenting you with an opportunity to target people, at no cost, who are passionate about your industry and expressing information to potential customers that an advertisement could never communicate.