According to Games Industry International and other industry press, the instant verdict on the Xbox One’s unveiling among devoted gamers was largely thumbs down. The presentation was criticized most heavily for its emphasis on the console’s non-gaming features, specifically, its media management capabilities. A voice-controlled interface? Advanced picture-in-picture? Social TV via Skype? A Halo TV show? Most devoted gamers apparently shrugged their shoulders.
Microsoft’s strategy here is, however, perfectly understandable given some essential numbers: hardcore gamers are outnumbered by casual gamers, who are, in turn, outnumbered by consumers of popular media. By breaking virtually every console sales record, Nintendo’s Wii showed the power of appealing to casual gamers. It’s not surprising Microsoft decided to try to go Nintendo one better by targeting an even larger mass audience.
Our consumer research on the connected home over the last twelve years certainly points to media entertainment as the most powerful adoption driver. And the Xbox One addresses the most frequently-voiced need among these potential adopters: control. Most consumers are looking for the type of all-in-one media server the Xbox One purports to be. They’re looking to save time and effort associated with managing their media entertainment.
Whether Xbox One delivers on that promise, of course, has yet to be seen. From Windows Media Services (formerly, Netshow Services) to the ill-fated Zune and recent Xbox Music (its all-in-one music service), the company’s record in this space is pretty spotty. But the concept is undeniably spot-on.