1 ) Silence The Rumours.
Deal with it. Three words that single-handedly poured ice-cold water over any next-gen excitement that Microsoft had garnered. Adam Orth’s infamous tweet, acting as part of his social media outrage, initiated a strong backlash from the Xbox community. The arrogant quip from Microsoft’s creative director started off as a Twitter tirade and then, as the instantaneous nature of the internet would have it, snowballed into a public meltdown that didn’t reflect too well on the company’s reputation. In fact, in the subsequent aftermath of Orth’s contentious statements, the industry titan was silent on everything and anything related to Xbox 720. Rather, they merely brushed the issue aside with an apologetic statement and remained distant from their loyal fan base. This disconnect is in direct contrast to Sony who, on the back of the PS4 reveal and GDC, have witnessed a groundswell of support from both developers and consumers for their new machine.
It’s strange. Really strange, actually. Considering that Sony, bolstered by the unprecedented success of the PS2 – at over 150 million units sold, the console remains the best selling gaming machine of all time – the company fumbled the release of the Playstation 3 with a hefty price tag and lengthy production problems. In retrospect for Sony, the launch of their third iteration of console was far from rosy. Now, of course, this isn’t to say that Microsoft will repeat the mistakes of its chief competitor, but the studio is displaying a certain degree of arrogance in the run up to the Xbox 720.
As I’ve mentioned, their once unparalleled dominance in the gaming sphere has been undercut by Sony in this generation’s sales and, in particular, regarding the general buzz for the next-gen. To compensate, Microsoft need to put these rumours to bed. Granted, their event on May 21st will most likely provide an inkling of the company’s creative direction for Xbox 720, but that’s still four weeks away. And with rumours orbiting the unannounced device like hungry sharks circling a baby seal, it would benefit the company to provide their audience with at least some degree of information, particularly regarding the much touted always online component.
Digital rights managements and always online. From a business perspective, it’s a symbiotic relationship that locks out piracy in one efficient sweep, but from a consumer viewpoint, it’s a match made in hell. If triple-A titles like SimCity and Diablo 3 proved anything, it’s that developers aren’t in a technical position to support that kind of service, as of yet. Plus, considering that Xbox Live experiences issues at the Christmas period due to an influx of new players, you would have to assume that Microsoft would be hap hazardous about forcing users to connect to the internet in order to play. Faster processors and advancements in technology may do away with these quandaries but incorporating an always online component into Xbox 720 would create more problems than it would solve.
Right now, the ball is in Microsoft’s court and up until this point, they’ve taken their sweet time to relay any significant response. The online speculation has done little to help the buzz for the Xbox 720 and has understandably irked the company’s worldwide fan base. A trustworthy connection with the audience is a priceless commodity and one that Microsoft needs to work on ahead of May 21st and, in particular, E3 in June, which brings us to the next influencing factor.
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