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In The Green Corner

Dear Microsoft,

Much has been made in the past week of Sony’s big/tedious/exciting/console-free (delete as appropriate) reveal of the PlayStation 4. With that in mind, here is a collection of pointers that we think you should bear in mind for your reveal of Durango / NextBox / 720 in April:

1. Don’t Focus On Kinect

Unless Kinect Mk II has some absolutely incredible functionality, for the love of god do not spend more than fifteen minutes on it. For launch you need to hit the core gamer squarely over the head and given that many people are talking about avoiding the next Xbox solely for its apparent focus on Kinect, those fancy-pant cameras simply aren’t going to cut it. Spend more than a third of the event talking about Kinect and you might as well wave goodbye to swathes of launch-window sales with dedicated hardcore gamers.

More than a few shots of beautiful people pretending to enjoy a Kinect game? No Microsoft, NO.

More than a few shots of beautiful people pretending to enjoy a Kinect game? No Microsoft, NO.

The people who will buy the machine for Kinect and family friendly games won’t be buying it yet, unless you plan on a launch price of under £199. So don’t focus on them.

Make Kinect a nice bonus feature, not the focus.

2. We Don’t Care About Surface

Sure, Surface is a reasonable piece of technology, but it is never going to be an iPad or Galaxy killer. Some bonus functionality on mobiles and tablets will be great, but we want a console reveal, not a Microsoft cross-sell session.

3. The Games REALLY Matter

You can argue that the weakest point of Sony’s PlayStation 4 reveal was the games themselves. Sure they looked great, but Drive Club and Media Molecule aside there was very little that isn’t coming out on other platforms and most of them are sequels. Given that this is really the most important part of the console, Microsoft, you have both a big responsibility and opportunity here.

Come in with a big reveal of Forza 5 and Halo 5, by all means, but something new and exciting would be very handy about now. Note: that doesn’t mean a Kinect title, unless it’s completely focused at showing the hardcore how it can be used for their kind of game. Which we don’t think it can.

Female gamers do not just play Farmville and titles like this.

Female gamers do not just play Farmville and titles like this.

4. Gamers Are Not All Men

Sony seriously gave the impression this week that PlayStation 4 is a machine designed by men, programmed by men, made exclusively for men. There was a complete absence of consideration of female gamers (and I don’t mean casual gamers, I mean REAL women gamers).

If you can make the next Xbox reveal feel more gender neutral, you will boost massively your chances of succeeding with the huge and too often ignored market of female gamers.

5. Specification Or Price?

The PlayStation 4 impressed widely with its well-thought out innards. The powerful but low-cost and easy-to-program hardware, combined with the impressive 8GB of GDDR5 RAM avoids the many hardware issues that plagued its predecessor.

For my money Microsoft, you absolutely have to do one of two things: have a significantly more powerful setup that beats the PS4 (unlikely based on current rumours), or be markedly cheaper.

If the next Xbox launches with the same price and similar specifications, I think that the majority of early adopters will choose Sony, especially if hardcore gamers are led to believe that Kinect will be the overriding focus of the machine.

6. Think About Remote-Play

Sony have a really nice extra feature with the use of Vita for Wii-U style remote play. Microsoft doesn’t have a handheld console, so working out how to tackle this deficit is important. People are rapidly waking up to the idea of playing a home console that isn’t locked to the main TV, maybe a Wii-U dedicated controller with screen could be the answer. Using surface and touch screen controls certainly is NOT.

The 360 dpad is simply not good enough. Fix it. Pleeeease.

The 360 dpad is simply not good enough. Fix it. Pleeeease.

7. Give Us a D-Pad We Can Use!

This is a personal bugbear of mine as discussed previously, but the new Xbox needs a far better D-Pad than the 360 had i.e. one that actually works.

8. Think Of The Little People

As a software company by trade, it’s not hard to see why you are so mad about monthly payments and subscription based services, but isn’t Gold getting a bit old-hat?

PlayStation Plus has shown the way, plain and simple. If you want us to feel good about paying extra each month, Microsoft, give us something tangible to enjoy, not just the tiny carrot of reliable online play that should be free for all.

Many thanks in anticipation.

Kindest Regards,


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Rob is an advertising strategist and author of 'The Ad Pit' blog. Rob has been playing games for 25 years - which makes him feel very old. He used to have a victory ratio of 40:1 in Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, but that was a long time ago! #dogyears

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  1. PS Plus has made Xbox Live Gold look like a bad joke in my opinion. I just know that MS are going to concentrate on Kinect, and they HAVE to sort that Dpad out, it is actually worse than the one on the CD32!

  2. Agreed on all counts my good man. MS: you have much to prove.

  3. I should also add: 9. Do not lock out used games unless you wish half your market to move over to PS4.

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