This week's Xbox One E3 presentation showed a line up of games for the core, male gamer, with Microsoft abandoning so much of what the Xbox 360 did to expand the gamer population.
The Xbox One’s price of $500, with a potentially required subscription service, screams, “stay away” to cost-conscious families and more casual gamers. And despite Xbox One’s ample offerings as a set-top box, the system is priced way out of line with existing set-top boxes such as Roku, which for $49 are deemed “good enough” for most consumers. The price difference makes it near impossible for Xbox One to currently gain widespread adoption.
With such a high entry cost for Xbox One, Microsoft’s E3 presentation showed a laser-focused effort to provide a compelling experience for the only people excited enough to drop over half a grand on a new game experience: the hardest core of gamers. This traditionally male audience accelerated game sales through many console cycles, but recently had to share the spotlight with more mainstream gamers who flocked towards more social and casual games on consoles.
But core gamers are the only gamers in Microsoft’s sight for Xbox One’s launch. A wealth of AAA sequels: Metal Gear Solid V, Forza Motorspot 5, Dead Rising 3, Battlefield 4, Halo: 2014, promise continuity for key titles to core gamers. New IP promises plenty of violence, with games like Ryse: Son of Rome, D4, Quantum Break and Titan Fall.
And what stereotypical core gamer doesn’t want to fly around on a dragon, in Crimson Dragon?
Microsoft even brought back Killer Instinct, a niche fighting game the company has ignored since acquiring Rare, in an effort to motivate core traditional gamers to buy into Xbox One (I may buy one on this alone).
For all the complaints Xbox One is facing for platform’s price tag and violence-focused presentation, the games shown are exactly the lineup needed for the type of gamers willing to drop $500 for a system.
It’s just unfortunate that Microsoft’s E3 presentation abandoned the progress made during the last generation of expanding the population of gamers. Today there was no mention of games with the more casual family appeal that made the Xbox 360 the current generation’s champion. By successfully serving both core and casual markets, Xbox 360 was able to win the console race.
More mainstream content will have to wait until the system is a cheaper experience. Until then, Microsoft needs core gamers more than ever.