After I was done watching Microsoft’s E3 2012 press conference, I could not help but begin mentally scheming a cunning plan, one that I felt was important to the industry as a whole. First, I would locate a particularly foul-smelling dog turd. Then, I would find out the address of Don Mattrick or Phil Spencer, whichever is in charge of Microsoft’s conferences (probably that Tom Cruise-looking bastard). I would then print out the transcript of the conference and carefully wrap the turd in it. Finally, I would place the package on the guy’s porch and attach a note saying that there is an expensive present inside and the only way to get to it would be to keep reading the wrapping for clues as he opened it layer by layer.
As he carried on, he would experience exactly what Xbox 360 owners experienced watching Microsoft’s presentation in 2012: excitement, followed by a growing hint of something increasingly foul, until he was left holding a shit in his hands, instead of what he hoped for. That would actually be doing the guy a favor as he would finally grasp a firm understanding of the way one important segment of his customers, the actual gamers, feel about his marketing strategy.
Nobody likes bait-and-switch Don.
Then, I thought about it some more and decided that the guy is actually smart. Consider E3 and what it represents. On paper, it is a gaming event where developers and gamers (or rather their representatives) get together to share and receive. In reality, it is the only time of the year where all non-gamers also tune in to see what the whole thing is really all about. This is why Microsoft streamed their 2011 conference on Times Square in New York City. They know exactly what they’re doing and who they’re doing it to.
‘Cause that’s where most gamers are during E3.
They realize that the actual gamers follow gaming news, twitters and websites anyway. Hell, if any known developer suddenly puts up some random countdown on their website, it’s suddenly news in the gaming community and everyone is arguing whether it’s Half Life 3. So, speaking strictly from a business perspective, Microsoft does not have to give us any attention at all at E3 because they have our attention year-round. Instead, they want to spend time wooing those who might buy a console to lose weight or to have rad parties, the kind that all the cool peeps throw these days, you’ve seen the commercials. The exclusives that they do show are only there to shut us up and let that other crowd know that Microsoft’s “nintendo” also plays video games.
Next one will be Xbox exclusive and it will be called ‘DLC’.
Now, I love Microsoft exclusives. Even though the only console I use anymore is Playstation 3, when Microsoft does announce a new real Xbox 360 game, few things are as exciting. They know how to market something until you feel like you need it to survive and I don’t mind that one bit. I love being so hyped up that I look forward to every new announcement for that one brew that is just smelling all sorts of good. As such, I definitely wish that there was more of that from the Xbox camp but I really cannot blame Microsoft for choosing their casual-centered strategy. After all, it is paying off for them and that’s the ultimate goal of a business.
At the same time though, as important as the casual segment has been for them lately, they must not forget just who got them to where they are this generation. The hardcore gamers were the ones who started purchasing the consoles by the millions when the 360 had all those amazing, amazing games through 2007. Now, I am not so sure this group doesn’t feel betrayed enough to hold on to their money for the next round. I know I am planning to buy Playstation 4 only, as of right now…
I do feel like there can be a compromise and a way out though. Oddly, that is the super corny, yet super marketed and televised, Video Game Awards. As much as everyone loves to hate the admittedly pathetic cheesefest, a lot of good can come from another major mainstream gaming events in one year. Perhaps, if the VGA’s get big enough, Microsoft and everyone else will shift that casual junk there and return E3 to its’ former glory. I would not even mind if they moved their conferences there altogether and concentrated on the holiday sales and the new way Kinect can turn on some Xbox Live app that burns fat between your toes through Usher’s music videos and then say, “as you will undoubtedly see on the VGA’s, which will be hosted by Usher tomorrow, we also got games.” And save something more lean and mean for the actual E3 floors.
They must realize that the hardcore guys have little reason to get their next Xbox unless some changes are made and Sony might follow suit because they too want to cater to both crowds. Someone needs to give that devious lout, Geoff Keighley, the idea and have him do his thing for the good of all of us.