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Microsoft's approach to next gen -your thoughts?


dumpster
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I've written the opening paragraph to this thread three times now and I give up. But there's a thought that I've had for a while and now I have bought a Series X I'm wondering if anyone is thinking the same as me...  So here it is.

 

With any product it has to be very clear and straightforward to see what the benefits are and what the product is.  Most adverts follow this format.  "Are you fed up with a hose pipe that tangles, kinks and is difficult to store? Introducing the X-Hose, the great value hose that never tangles or kinks and is really easy to store!".  What is does is sets out the stall of "here's the product and here's why you need it".  It's clear and easy to understand. 

 

The PlayStation 5 is new, exciting and better than the PlayStation 4.  Very clear. Go digital only or get one with a drive, that's the 2 options right there. 

 

But when the water is muddy it becomes confusing for the general customer.  Like, how many people thought the Wii-U was an accessory for the Wii?  The stores had them on the shelves together, they used the same controllers.  And sometimes, choice isn't needed and causes confusion.  Really, why did the PS Vita come in a 3G model? Choices lead to "I'll think about it" at retail. 

 

So onto my main point.  On unpacking the Xbox Series X I was impressed with the packaging, the size of the unit, the hefty weight. I plugged it in, excited at the new purchase.  And lo and behold - it's exactly the same as the console I flogged for £90 on Facebook last week.  Almost identical controller, exactly the same on screen display. Same store.  And for the most part, same games. It's only when you sit down to actually play a game that you see any difference.  And wow, what a difference! 

 

Today in Game I noticed there's a PS4 section and a whole separate PS5 section. But Xbox only has one section. It's quite difficult to see where the Series X stuff is.  PlayStation has PS5 exclusives.  Microsoft don't.  

 

And with the screen layout being exactly the same, you start to wonder, does the average shopper on the high street know the difference between an Xbox One X or Xbox Series S or Xbox One, or Xbox One S, or Xbox Series X? They all sound so similar. It's confusing.  And the Series S is the equivalent of the PS5 digital console - only it's not a powerful as the Series X, but more powerful than an X, which is one step up from the One S. Decisions decisions.  Which is the right one?  

 

Now, don't get me wrong.  I've done my research and the attitude to back compatibility on Xbox is the reason I bought one.  I'm really pleased with the ability to play my older Xbox games in glorious 60fps etc and I'm happy that the Series X is a cracking piece of kit. I like that Xbox One owners can still play games while the Xbox Series X offers the best experience.  But I wonder if the whole smart delivery thing is just confusing to the mass public.  The PS5 doesn't interest me at all right now, but on the surface it's very clearly a whole new games console, where the Xbox Series might appear more like a polished version of what went before. Evolutionary, not revolutionary. Even though we, the internet forumites know exactly which model is which and know the Series X is amazing and streets ahead of an Xbox One.

 

Do anyone know what I mean by that? What are your thoughts? 

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Nokia wanted to keep reinventing the phone you had and sell you new and exciting, iPhone came along and killed them and no we just iterate - I’ve just had a big upgrade from a 4 year old iPad Pro to a new iPad Pro but now its all been restored from a cloud backup it looks the same….

 

Sony have already given up on generations a few months into this one, they will keep the separation for as long as consumers put up with it but they will be on the iteration train as soon as they see there is money there/consumers realise when Sony keep making new ones with less features than the last its a step back even if it looks shinier!

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I think that the Series consoles are ‘just’ a more polished version of what went before but I don’t view that as a bad thing. 
 

I don’t think Microsoft are in the business of selling games consoles (in the traditional sense anyway) anymore. They’re selling GamePass subscriptions and a consumer can choose to interact with that service at a variety of different levels depending on how interested and invested in gaming they are. 
 

Assuming the laws of physics aren’t overcome and we figure out how to completely negate lag, then in several years time the successors to the Series consoles will be released and those too will just be a more polished version of what came before. As the technologies behind the games on GamePass continues to evolve we’ll continue to be able to experience those games at a level that suits us. 
 

 

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The Series consoles are so close to the previous generation under the hood, that when I buy a game online I'm invited to install it on my Xbox One or my Xbox One.

 

I don't think that's a bad thing, though more because I don't really think much about it at all. However, the fact my Series S responds quickly when I use what ought to be simple tiles like the Rewards app, and the Xbox One churns for a while before doing the same thing suggests that whatever the differences are, there's no excuse for the Xbox One running like shite on the fucking menu.

 

This doesn't really address the topic, it just sprung to mind.

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3 minutes ago, Fry Crayola said:

The Series consoles are so close to the previous generation under the hood, that when I buy a game online I'm invited to install it on my Xbox One or my Xbox One.

 

I don't think that's a bad thing, though more because I don't really think much about it at all. However, the fact my Series S responds quickly when I use what ought to be simple tiles like the Rewards app, and the Xbox One churns for a while before doing the same thing suggests that whatever the differences are, there's no excuse for the Xbox One running like shite on the fucking menu.

 

This doesn't really address the topic, it just sprung to mind.

What?

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I think Sony and Microsoft’s actual offerings are very similar. Both have a slate of upcoming games that are mostly cross-generation. Both have ways to play older games in an upgraded way on your new console. That sort of thing. Both have games subscription services and streaming options. Strategically, I dare say they both have the same goals and share the ways they’re achieving them, big talk about believing in generations and continuity be dammed. 
 

Microsoft just does a far, far better job of giving you a tidy set of metaphors and mental images for what it all means as a customer, as the existing Xbox owner, or the convert, or the multi-platform gamer, or the non-console-haver. And Sony has absolutely no idea how to explain what that big picture should be. Does Smart Delivery give you anything the PS store’s bundled SKUs and cloud uploads don’t? Not really.  Can I understand what it does, how and why without drawing a diagram on a whiteboard? Yes.

 

That public version of the strategy - just having one - goes an enormous way. 

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8 minutes ago, JPL said:

What?

 

Well, the first part is moot now because I see they've finally updated it - it was when I bought games via the website and it asked if I'd like to start installing them on my console, but always referred to my Series S as another Xbox One. Must have just not been updated at the time.

 

The second one might literally be an old man shouting at the cloud.

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2 minutes ago, Alex W. said:

I think Sony and Microsoft’s actual offerings are very similar. Both have a slate of upcoming games that are mostly cross-generation. Both have ways to play older games in an upgraded way on your new console. That sort of thing. Both have games subscription services and streaming options. Strategically, I dare say they both have the same goals and share the ways they’re achieving them, big talk about believing in generations and continuity be dammed. 
 

Microsoft just does a far, far better job of giving you a tidy set of metaphors and mental images for what it all means as a customer, as the existing Xbox owner, or the convert, or the multi-platform gamer, or the non-console-haver. And Sony has absolutely no idea how to explain what that big picture should be. Does Smart Delivery give you anything the PS store’s bundled SKUs and cloud uploads don’t? Not really.  Can I understand what it does, how and why without drawing a diagram on a whiteboard? Yes.

 

That public version of the strategy - just having one - goes an enormous way. 

I totally get this. And while the MS strategy isn’t so appealing to me they do have a really clear narrative focused on Gamepass. But Sony’s emphasis on exclusives does feel like a coherent response and maybe more easily graspable in some ways. And the consoles they’ve shifted compared to MS suggests that they are doing quite a lot right. 

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Microsoft's strategy was clearly explained before the Series X and S launched. If you don't follow gaming news, or only follow PS/Switch news, I guess I could see how you missed it. We could probably dig up the tweets and blobs etc from last Summer/Autumn, or just quote the Series X|S thread, but broadly:

 

- "no more" traditional generations

- lots of functionality (AI auto HDR, FPS Boost, etc.) to make your Xbox/Xbox 360/Xbox One games run like the clappers

- Don't expect Series exclusives for a while (I believe we found the quote recently where someone at MS said about 2 years)

 

Why? Well, they just bought a shed load of studios and cranking out exclusives from scratch (or modifying games in flight to be exclusive) takes time. Luckily, MS spent a lot of last gen playing up BC, so that naturally lent itself to this. Also, you clearly see where they're going - buy Game Pass and play it on any old device, and that takes time to spin up too.

 

Now, we're already getting an exclusive next month (Flight Simulator) but I know that's the wrong sort of exclusive, so I'll need to point you to all the exclusives which were just announced at E3. 

 

I can see why some prefer the massive leap in generations, although honestly generations take a while to get going anyway and they always feel a bit "last gen but sharper" to start with. I'm looking at you Madden on 360, and AC4 on PS4. I was happy to suddenly get a whole bunch of existing games which are massively, massively improved, and patiently await the exclusives. It's not like Forza Horizon 4 became shit overnight because of the promise of Forza Horizon 5 (or insert name of game here that will not be cross gen). 

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2 minutes ago, Hewson said:

I totally get this. And while the MS strategy isn’t so appealing to me they do have a really clear narrative focused on Gamepass. But Sony’s emphasis on exclusives does feel like a coherent response and maybe more easily graspable in some ways. And the consoles they’ve shifted compared to MS suggests that they are doing quite a lot right. 

 

Momentum? I don't know how many people are going to switch, at this point. I imagine the metric they're all watching like a hawk right now is Game Pass subs, given all the devices about to get access to it this year.

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21 minutes ago, Fry Crayola said:

However, the fact my Series S responds quickly when I use what ought to be simple tiles like the Rewards app, and the Xbox One churns for a while before doing the same thing suggests that whatever the differences are, there's no excuse for the Xbox One running like shite on the fucking menu.

The difference in speed between the Series storage and the spinning rust in the XB1 is utterly absurd. I agree it looks a bit gash when it turns out the app needs an update, though. It's not the smoothest of flows while it figures that out, sometimes.

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4 minutes ago, Hewson said:

I totally get this. And while the MS strategy isn’t so appealing to me they do have a really clear narrative focused on Gamepass. But Sony’s emphasis on exclusives does feel like a coherent response and maybe more easily graspable in some ways. And the consoles they’ve shifted compared to MS suggests that they are doing quite a lot right. 


Sure, “we have a new console and it does the new games” is also a sellable message. It just leaves a whole lot of work Sony have done - around back compatibility, and the cloud, and stuff - just kind of flopping there.

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26 minutes ago, SplashWaveUK said:

Assuming the laws of physics aren’t overcome and we figure out how to completely negate lag, then in several years time the successors to the Series consoles will be released and those too will just be a more polished version of what came before

That they went with "Series" reasonably suggests we'll just get more letters for new models now, rather than a mid-gen refresh, when economics allows it to cost $500. 

 

Otherwise, Series was a daft name (or more of a daft name).

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The naming thing generated a whole lot of pages of consternation when it was announced, but it ended up being a big nothingburger because in the meantime the pandemic happened, they'd stopped production of all their last-gen consoles, and all game stock sold out at 200% levels and disappeared from store shelves.

 

It's kind of wild to see someone even bring it up as if it was still relevant, half the machines you mention in the OP haven't been manufactured for nearly a year!

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2 minutes ago, TehStu said:

The difference in speed between the Series storage and the spinning rust in the XB1 is utterly absurd. I agree it looks a bit gash when it turns out the app needs an update, though. It's not the smoothest of flows while it figures that out, sometimes.

 

Sure, but the app really ought to be lightweight to the point that the SSD makes no noticable difference.

 

I feel sometimes though I've got into Quick Resume games on the S quicker than the One has loaded the Rewards app. I don't get it at all.

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7 minutes ago, TehStu said:

 

Momentum? I don't know how many people are going to switch, at this point. I imagine the metric they're all watching like a hawk right now is Game Pass subs, given all the devices about to get access to it this year.

Sure - there’s a long way to go.

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6 minutes ago, Alex W. said:


Sure, “we have a new console and it does the new games” is also a sellable message. It just leaves a whole lot of work Sony have done - around back compatibility, and the cloud, and stuff - just kind of flopping there.

I guess. I suppose I’m saying that they might see making a big deal of other elements a distraction from the games and the controller - the really appreciable points of difference at the moment.

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1 hour ago, dumpster said:

And with the screen layout being exactly the same, you start to wonder, does the average shopper on the high street know the difference between an Xbox One X or Xbox Series S or Xbox One, or Xbox One S, or Xbox Series X? They all sound so similar. It's confusing. 

 

Not this BS again. XB1, XB1X don't get made anymore. It's either second hand stuff over old stock. Not sure about XB1S however. Even if it does however, it doesn't get advertised. The general public are not that thick. 

 

Sony doesn't have the exclusives anymore. Most of them are now being released on the PS4. 

 

The designs of the xbox game boxes are not perfect I agree, however they're getting a tweak that makes it a bit clearer.

 

 

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16 minutes ago, Hewson said:

And the consoles they’ve shifted compared to MS suggests that they are doing quite a lot right. 

What are the figures for PS5 vs Series? I didn’t think MS we’re giving that info out anymore.

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10 minutes ago, Hewson said:

I can well believe it after the good will Sony generated last gen. Seems like MS still have a hell of a lot to do to close that gap. Luckily for us, it appears they’re serious about trying to claw that deficit back.

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Microsoft’s strategy is almost incomprehensible.

 

Play games, on a subscription, on as many platforms that they basically control as possible.

 

breaking it down:

a. Play games - not tv tv tv.

b. On a subscription - recurring revenue, leverage their one giant cashflow advantage, create something that’s easy to buy into and then churn out stuff through buying lots of studios to keep those subscription gamers sticky.

c. On as many platforms - because simply selling consoles won’t get to the scale they want, or drive enough subs: the aim is everyone’s second console, really.

d. That they basically control - because handing 30% of revenues over to someone else breaks the model, and you don’t own the customer relationship.

 

I was dubious till I seemed to get matched with a series blade on cloud gaming earlier tonight. Now I think it might work.

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1 minute ago, JPL said:

I can well believe it after the good will Sony generated last gen. Seems like MS still have a hell of a lot to do to close that gap. Luckily for us, it appears they’re serious about trying to claw that deficit back.

Sure. I guess it could be entirely momentum. And I agree that MS have done a lot of work not just to close the gap but to offer something different. That makes the whole industry better (along with Nintendo’s stellar few years). I just sometimes think that there’s a perception here that Sony have fumbled the ball somehow and I’m not sure that’s the case.

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The stock shortages are the biggest danger to Sony this gen IMO.

 

They have prevented them from translating the goodwill generated last gen into a virtually unassailable lead at the start of this one.  It also means games I am sure they would prefer to be PS5 only, are having to go cross gen in order to remain financially viable.  
 

Guess only time will tell how effectively MS are able to take advantage.

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Generally think it's a good strategy to allow games to be played anywhere. It's kind of marking the end of console generations as we know them on Xbox it being a platform now.

 

Working well that they have embraced the PC as another platform. Saves me buying a console now. 

 

Think the only issue is that there is now little innovation on the Xbox platform. So happy that at least Nintendo and Sony are innovating IMHO of course 

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You can't really conclude much from sales figures when both consoles are always out of stock. All it really shows is Sony got more consoles on shelves. 

 

That said,I'd be shocked if Sony aren't ahead for most of the next few years.

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16 minutes ago, MattyP said:

Generally think it's a good strategy to allow games to be played anywhere. It's kind of marking the end of console generations as we know them on Xbox it being a platform now.

 

Working well that they have embraced the PC as another platform. Saves me buying a console now. 

 

Think the only issue is that there is now little innovation on the Xbox platform. So happy that at least Nintendo and Sony are innovating IMHO of course 

 

Haven’t Sony just closed down all their innovation studios? they seem to be doing a old Skool MS and going Halo/Gears/Forza on us…

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