Feature Article

3 Reasons the Xbox One May Struggle to Catch The PS4

Slippery slope.

by

The Xbox One is lagging behind the PlayStation 4. This has been true since the two consoles launched last November, and the distance has been widening with every month that passes. Microsoft corporate vice president Phil Harrison already spoke at length about the Xbox One's unenviable position, brushing aside many concerns as he brought up the old "marathon, not a sprint" analogy. Although I do agree that it's too early for Microsoft to throw in the towel, there are serious detriments to getting off to such a slow start. And if the Xbox One doesn't gain ground soon, the problems could snowball so quickly that there's no hope of catching up.

Dwindling third-party exclusives

Microsoft doesn't rely on its first-party studios nearly as much as Sony and Nintendo do. That disparity hasn't been a concern in the last decade, since Microsoft has secured exclusive deals with external teams to bolster its lineup. Look no further than Gears of War to see how smart strategic partnerships can boost the popularity of a system. Did it matter that Microsoft didn't develop Gears? Of course not. Most people were focused more on fending off the nasty locusts than worrying about who put a chainsaw on a gun. Epic agreed to keep Gears off Sony's and Nintendo's systems, and even sold the franchise rights to Microsoft earlier this year.

Who knows how many games other than Sunset Overdrive will be exclusive.

You can see why Microsoft has been so keen to establish these types of relationships. Microsoft Studio boss Phil Spencer spoke about their tactics last year, saying, "I think to some out there there's a fixation with which studios you own, which studios you work with, and for better or worse I'm not fixated on that." Microsoft has to either pay a first-party studio to make a game or contract an outside team, so either way it's shelling out money, right?

Unfortunately, this mindset that could spell trouble for Microsoft. If a game is being kept away from other platforms, that developer has to be compensated for lost potential sales. When the Xbox 360 shot out ahead of the PlayStation 3, it established itself as the leader in the high-definition race, so it was easy for Microsoft to convince publishers to partner up with them. And the same was true early this generation, when no one was sure how the chips would fall. But now that the PlayStation 4 is much more popular, Microsoft will have to pay more and more money to keep games away from Sony. And that price will only rise as the gap widens. It's not easy to negotiate when you're no longer in a position of power. That means we'll see more games land on multiple platforms, and there will be added pressure on 343 Industries, Turn 10 Studios, and Lionhead Studios to carry the load.

Titanfall is already being kept away from the PlayStation 4, as are Sunset Overdrive and Quantum Break, but who knows how willing those teams will be to do the same with their next games knowing that they're ignoring a huge part of their potential audience.

Follow your friends to the end

Remember when you could play games in your basement for hours without ever encountering another person? Well, the days of video games being an escape from social commitments have evaporated, and it's not as bad as my teenage self would have thought. Games are now digital hangouts where friends, strangers, and enemies square off, so even when there's no one else inside your house, there are still people playing with you somewhere in the world. It's kind of scary, kind of magic, and has dramatically changed how I play games.

Leaderboard racers are the best part of Trials Fusion.

As more people purchase a PlayStation 4 in favor of an Xbox One, the communities of multiplayer gamers will subsequently gravitate toward Sony's console. So when you're figuring out which version of Evolve to get later this year, part of that decision process will involve which system has a larger player base. It makes sense, right? If you buy a multiplayer-centric game, you're going to want as many people as possible to play with. That idea extends further when your friends play games as well. Once one friend decides to buy Destiny on the PlayStation 4, the others will invariably follow suit. It takes only one domino being pushed to start a chain.

Maybe you're like me and prefer playing alone. Well, if you have friends who also play games, you'll still have to make the same choices as those people who crave multiplayer. Last week Trials Fusion came out, and my colleagues and I have been vying for leaderboard supremacy. High-score chases are my favorite part of the game, so having as many times to chase as possible exponentially improves my fun. That's just science. Well, just about every person in the office is chasing my ghost on the PlayStation 4. And as more people jump on the PlayStation 4 train, that will soon become the default choice for any game with a with a connected environment. If Microsoft doesn't turn things around, Call of Duty, Madden, and every other competitive game is going to sell better on the PlayStation 4, making it even harder for the Xbox One to come back.

Words speak louder than actions

All of the Xbox buildings in the world can't change how people feel.

There are many reasons why someone would purchase a video game console. Price is a large part of the equation, and everything else related to that system either makes the cost seem reasonable or much too high. What's the current library of games look like? And what are you interested in buying in the near future? Are there enough streaming apps for when you'd rather watch a movie? Do you have friends who favor one system over another? We take a look at all of this stuff. But there's one other element that could be the biggest factor of all.

Word of mouth matters. Any discerning person out there probably rolls their eyes at marketing. Sure, we may like some commercials, but we're never felt compelled to buy an energy drink or specific toilet paper brand just because we've been inundated with billboards, right? No one would admit that ads sway their buying habits (even though they totally do), but word of mouth isn't so easy to disassociate yourself with. It's been proven to be far more effective than traditional marketing, and once popular opinion slides in one direction, it can be difficult to change that momentum.

This is a dangerous situation for Microsoft. As the PlayStation 4 becomes more and more popular, it will become the default console. Remember last generation? The Wii exploded in large part because every mainstream publication was talking about it. It graced the covers of magazines and found its way into popular sitcoms, and eventually, it became the thing that everyone wanted. Even Microsoft admits they've been struggling with messaging since the Xbox One reveal last year, and even though they've backtracked on many of their restrictions, it's much harder to change people's minds.

Microsoft is right in that the race is still in the early going. But they have to realize that once you fall too far behind, it gets incredibly difficult to come back. There are just too many elements the second and third place platforms have to fight against to remain relevant. We'll see how things play out, but Microsoft has to start making a move sooner rather than later.

Discussion

2193 comments
skiggy34
skiggy34

I dont know if Im reading this right...  Ton wrote that the gap is widening each month when NPD reports say the gap between PS4 and Xbox One is closing. Xbox One sold 90% of what the PS4 sold last month.  This news doesnt bother me as I own both consoles but its stupid.  He is writing how the xbox one is doing poorly but has no idea the power of media.  If he and all these other gaming websites keep writing about "how bad MS is doing" then sure, no one is going to buy it..  They are contributing to the so called "failing" Xbox One.  

I just dont understand how a console that is only in 13 territories, cost more, is less powerful and has HORRIFIC media attention prior to its launch, has sold ONLY approximately 2 million less than a console with great press, is more powerful, and a $!00 cheaper and is in damn near 50 territories?????  Maybe they should re write this article and say "how can MS make its Xbox One more of a success than it already has been to catch up to Sony...  The Xbox One has a lot of room to grow.  Even if you give MS 700,000 more consoles sold once they hit these other countries, it makes it even more closer to Sony.   Its as if these gaming sites expect these consoles to remain side by side the entire life cycle..  And us morons keep reading this junk...  

chippiez
chippiez

Whoah whoah, aside from a now neutered Naughty Dog, who is making games of pedigree exclusively for PS4?  And no, Indie arthouse crap like Jon Blows sh1t isn't what sells a console.  And guess who DOESNT have the money to pay studios to keep it exclusive and MUST rely on their wholly owned in house shops?  Yep... Junk status Sony.  And who's been hemorrhaging employees and talent at these studios for the last year?  Yep... Junk status Sony.   If Microsoft were inclined, and I'm sure they're not, they could go right back to the razor blade model, take a loss and sell Xbone at 250$, snatch up a bunch of studios to make exclusives and still barely put a dent in the mothership's wallet.  Yeah... don't count MSFT as "out" in Gen-8 quite yet.  This thing could turn into a Microsoft/Nintendo contest if Facebook buys PlayStation from Sony.  hahaha.  Now that would be great!  You ponies so deserve something like that to turn your 400$ paperweight into a 400$ paperweight that you can "like" in immersive 3d over and over and over again, while having ads rammed down your throat.

bourne2live
bourne2live

Microsoft kinda started on a very wrong foot the way it came out with the Xbox One. T'was as if they thought Xbox had a monopoly in the console market with that always online crap.

RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

These articles are becoming the norm for Gamespot which is hard to stomach. 


Wonder if I'm the only one who can't wait for E3? 


When we'll get real news, real news about games.


But hey, not trying to purposely hate. It's just getting ridiculous. 


The fact gaming sites feel the need for filler, like fan war articles and other none game related junk like the next Star Wars cast >_>

kovaras1984
kovaras1984

biggest problem microsoft face is lame ass websites like sonyspot taking advantage of the console war situation making posts that are clearly click baiting for fanboy reactions.

spartanx169x
spartanx169x

You make rational arguments. However people are in general are not rational. If they were COD would not be as popular as it continues to be. the mass public is not as analytical about purchases as people on this website are. Don't believe me? Go look at car sales and how many people get sucked into making the worst possible deal that can get. With that said, Xbox will have a lot of loyal fans that come back. Will it be 80 million?  I doubt it. Its just my opinion, that if they   can come up with that "Must have" game  ALONG with dropping the price to $400 without the Kinect they can close the gap to a respectable 45% of the market Sony having 55%. If they can do that it will be can be considered successful. I think anything less and they will not make a console after that  

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

The lack of 1st party studios is going to be Microsoft's biggest hurdle to jump over now that they are so far behind. TV programming isn't bad, but it sure isn't going to be a deciding factor for the majority of future console purchases.

Xbox Live is something Microsoft could leverage as an advantage, but there's not much they can do there to make up for lack of exclusive games. Plus the restrictions applied to a console without an active XBLG subscription show that Microsoft isn't focusing much on improving the value of that service beyond their TV and cloud initiatives. The cloud could have been a big deal, but Microsoft has so far failed to prove its worth. And with the current state of worldwide broadband isn't something they can rely on for system-selling features over exclusive games.

Since Microsoft won't be able to secure many 3rd party games as exclusive (timed or full), I predict they will focus on exclusive DLC for some of the biggest games. They did this a lot near the end of last-gen as exclusives weaned away. They're sure to do it again.

The problem is that DLC is only appealing to a subset of the audience and is most important regarding competitive online play. A map pack may only be available on XBO, but since all of "my friends" are playing on PS4, those maps aren't going to matter.

I'm very interested in what Microsoft has planned for E3 2014. The rumors and announcements leading up to it haven't been promising, but I can't shake feeling that there is something they have been keeping well kept from the public that will be announced. Though I'm not confident that Microsoft can convince me to buy an Xbox One yet.

The probability of the Xbox One coming out on top this generation is quickly diminishing to none,ute it's not there. Give them until E3 2016 to do something game-changing. If they haven't done it by then, they won't do it at all.

iwasonceacow
iwasonceacow

well first they haven't even realsed in some markets its like 20 markets and i say wtf to that

kvan33
kvan33

Fanboys and everyone should be concerned about xbone falling behind.   PS3 and 360 were more evenly matched, but not having a healthy competition going forward into next gen is bad for consumers.

box215
box215

I still think it's too early in the game to say which will dominate. Yes the PS4 has jumped out to a huge lead but time will tell. With that being said... I'm totally happy with my 360 still. If you had asked me a year ago if I'd have an XBOne by now I wouldve said "hell yeah" BUT THERE ARE NO GAMES!!! Ive gotten to play Max Payne 3, Hitman Absolution, Batman Arkham City all for free of $5 over the past 2 months. Games with Gold on 360 is such a great deal...so many really good games for dirt cheap. Cant beat that!!

virtualskill
virtualskill

True about the Multiplayer population. Xbox Live used to own and have the majority of players. Now PSN is becoming the place to be as it is gaining way more players while Xbox loses theirs. 


I want to play where the most people are.

matthawkes
matthawkes

Whether you like it as a product or not the Xbox has sold plenty of units and is ahead of where MS wanted to be at this stage after the launch. It doesn't matter whether Sony is ahead - MS has long standing relationships with the developers and the millions of units sold means there is significant volume in the community to make exclusive deals worthwhile - The whole article is a nonsense of unfounded drivel, personal opinion and what ifs. There is no evidence to corroborate any of the conclusions - how the hell this crap generated 2000+ comments is a joke. Gamespot is playing us for fools - this is not journalism

matthawkes
matthawkes

Whether you like it as a product or not the Xbox has sold plenty of units and is ahead of where MS wanted to be at this stage after the launch. It doesn't matter whether Sony is ahead - MS has long standing relationships with the developers and the millions of units sold means there is significant volume in the community to make exclusive deals worthwhile to all parties - The whole article is a nonsense of unfounded drivel, personal opinion and what ifs. There is no evidence to corroborate any of the conclusions - how the hell this crap generated 2000+ comments is a joke. Gamespot is playing us for fools - this is not journalism

nameaprice
nameaprice

BWHAHAHAHAHA SUCK IT XBONER FAN BOYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

lifegee13
lifegee13

This article, I know three people selling there PS4s on Facebook right now there no games. I suggested to my neighbor to take it to the pawn shop.

kluberpt
kluberpt

Came here to watch a video, saw text :/

19James89
19James89

Just been on the GAME website and there's plenty of Xbox One bundles sold out along with Wii U's. Plenty of PS4 bundles in stock including the Watch dogs bundle - It's nice to see a slight increase in competitiveness.

GregoryBastards
GregoryBastards

I'm exchanging my X box One for a Vita next week.

A VITA..!!

i think that even the vita has more value than the Xone at this time....and no amount of wishful thinking or people holding beers telling me how Xbox is a more "American" console will change that fact.

retsmot
retsmot

this type of news only means that feedbackula is making a comeback.

reddevilofhell
reddevilofhell

This gamespot... just releases articles on console wars so it can get more page hits from impudent crying babies saying which console is better.

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

I have a hard time believing Microsoft would sell he Xbox one without a Kinect. Even if they aren't doing much to prove its worth, it's still the differentiating factor between it and the PS4. I believe they will take a financial hit by dropping price to around $400 while keeping the Kinect as part of the base console package.

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

Those 20 markets will probably account for a few hundred thousand units sold. Doubtful it would reach 1+ million combined of all 20 of those markets. This is part of the reason why they haven't been rushed to get the console out in these markets.

northArrow
northArrow

@kvan33 Not exactly, because what's really wrong for consumers? Pretty much everything the Xbox One originally attempted to do. I think it would be far better for the industry if Microsoft got steamrolled this generation, it will deter future console manufacturers from selling unwanted peripherals with the system, always online, DRM and all the other crap they announced.


Don't get me wrong, I'm not implying a Sony monopoly is good, but I'm saying that we can't have competition for competition's sake, we need competition for the market to promote good behavior and punish bad. 


The original Xbox was destroyed by the PS2 and that only encouraged Microsoft to create the amazing 360. The Xbox One is another dud, if they lose badly this gen, I'd be excited to see what MS does next time around

ck10304
ck10304

@matthawkes  The only drivel here is your comment. If the XONE falls significantly behind the PS4, exclusive deals are only worthwhile if the publisher is adequately compensated for lost revenue, it just makes sense. It's not like, "Ok great we've hit 10 million systems, now we should have no problem getting exclusives. Doesn't matter that PS4 has 20 million." Long-standing relationships mean nothing in the world of capitalism, money speaks and installed units speaks.

northArrow
northArrow

@matthawkes Not exactly, there's a lot that can be inferred from Microsoft's behavior. For instance, the fact that there's already been an "unofficial" price drop and they've bundled Titanfall (originally advertised as a system seller) with the console - for free, can only mean the X1 has not met internal sales projections. A product that is selling at or above expectations will NEVER adjust its price, because why would you? Maximizing profit is what business does.

Now I don't think it's doom and gloom, the X1 will sell okay, but a lot of this article is pretty spot on. A lot of this is hypothetical because we don't know what the future is, Microsoft might do something to change the variables. We'll just have to see.

RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@lifegee13  The Indie and small budget games alone make it worth keeping. Casual gamers look down (regardless of platform may I add) titles like Mercenary Kings, Putty Squad, Odd World & Resogun because 


"it dontz havz them graphicz" 


But hey, go look up how popular Minecraft is on P.C. the most powerful choice is commonly used for a game build around retro pixel presentation.


& in time the PS4 will have even more to offer, as we all know Sony delivers on exclusives. but for now. As a early console, this content is decent.

ck10304
ck10304

@lifegee13  Neither system has good games yet. Idiots selling their systems early before they actually can get their money's worth

mont345
mont345

And I know like 20 people selling there xbox ones right now as we speak, check craigslist xbox ones going for 350 right now, bestbuy told microsoft don't send and more they are not selling just taking up space.!!

ck10304
ck10304

@kluberpt  The world must be coming to an end if every written article doesn't come with an accompanying video for the people who can't read

ck10304
ck10304

@19James89  Ya the WiiU must be right on the heels of PS4 by now right?

cainetao11
cainetao11

@GregoryBastards Except its not a fact. As you said "I think that even" nobody's thoughts are facts that others must accept as reality. I own both a Vita and an X1 and would easily part with the Vita first. But that's me, and not a fact.

kovaras1984
kovaras1984

@Hvac0120 Rubbish, they didnt even release in all of europe yet, Its not like these places have populations of a couple of million lol. some are major 1st world countries

19James89
19James89

@ck10304 @19James89I've got no idea as Nintendo hasn't released any official sales figures since the end of last year unless I've missed recent sales figures. If the Wii U isn't right behind the PS4 now, then it will when Mario Kart 8 launches. I've got a good feeling about Mario Kart 8, I reckon it will shift Wii U's in the millions.

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

@kovaras1984 In which of those countries do you think Microsoft will sell a significant number of Xbox One consoles?

ck10304
ck10304

@19James89 @ck10304  The rise of game streaming can make the need for dedicated hardware obsolete, and given the trend towards longer generation cycles this technology will have matured even more by the time this gen gets old

19James89
19James89

@ck10304 I don't see any reason why there wouldn't be another console generation, do you?