The Xbox One Reveal, Salesmanship, and You
If you’re like me, the Xbox One reveal was a bit of a let down for you. The lion’s share of the presentation focused on watching TV, watching movies, and browsing the Internet. The general consensus in the gaming community is that the reveal was a major gaffe by Microsoft. But it wasn’t, and in this article, I’ll tell you why.
In my life, I’ve had many vocations. One was sales. It has been awhile, but even with rusty skills, I could see multiple sales techniques being employed. Unless he’s had sales training, the average gamer is probably, justifiably, confused to hell and back. So what did Microsoft do?
That was me.
First, they focused on “benefits,” not “features.” Features are the tech specs: CPU clock speeds, GPU TFLOPS, etc. This sort of stuff means a great deal to geeks like us, but to people like my parents, it may as well be in another language. Benefits, on the other hand, are what the features do for you. “Xbox One lets you do all your TV stuff through one box.” My mom would get that.
τι λαλει γεεκον?
The bummer with this, of course, is that we still know very little about the system itself. Here’s what I managed to glean from the presentation:
- 8 Core, x86 CPU with 64 bit architecture
- 8 GB of unified RAM
- 500 GB HDD
- 1080p Kinect camera
- 3 Operating Systems (I probably would not have advertized this)
- Force feedback on the triggers of the gamepad (huh?)
I had expected a post-presentation press release to give tech specs, but this was not the case. After all, the glitzy, benefits based demonstration was sure to appease the mom and pop crowd, so why not toss a little something to hardcore gamers? Sadly, this was not meant to be.
Look, Microsoft! You know how to do it, you’ve issued them before!
Second, while the gaming community seems to hate the name Xbox One, it is actually a good name. I know, I probably need to turn in my official nerd card for saying that, but again, we’re talking sales and marketing. Microsoft views “Xbox” not as a product but as a brand identity. The original Xbox was not “Xbox One” (as some have claimed), it was simply “Xbox” (a shortened version of the development name, “DirectX-box”). The Xbox 360 was so named to establish an identity for that product within the Xbox brand. In the same way, they’re trying to establish an identity for the Xbox One with its moniker. It is Microsoft’s unified set-top box. It is the “one” interface you will use for all of your television needs (or so Microsoft hopes).
One system to—sorry, this gag has been played out.
Finally, they knew their audience. The biggest market for Xbox is, and always has been, the US. Second is Europe, and their numbers in Japan are so pathetic as to be laughable. I’ve seen quite a few European gamers complain that many of the features Microsoft demonstrated won’t work outside the US. This is a thoroughly fair concern. But again, a good salesman targets his consumer, and the most likely consumer for this thing is American.
So why isn’t the reveal a screw up?
To gamers, it was a disaster. To my parents, it was a big win. Non-technically inclined people eat this stuff up with a spoon (don’t believe me? Check out NBCNews’ take). Remember when you couldn’t get a Wii if your life depended on it? There weren’t even any good games at the time! Microsoft is following in Nintendo’s wake, and from a sales perspective, they actually did a bang up job.
These guys get it.
What about gamers? My guess (or better, hope) is that this is where E3 kicks in. Microsoft has already stated that they intend to focus on games at E3. Hopefully, we’ll get some hardware info there as well. If not, well, there’s always Digital Foundry and X-Raying. Either way, I think Microsoft is planning on having its cake and eating it too with a casual + gamer approach. While it might mean that yesterday was a disappointment to us (it was for me), from a sales perspective, it was brilliant.
Bonus round: Double points if you can figure out what my Classical Greek said without Google translate! Hint: I made the last word up. It’s a transliteration of “geek” in the accusative case. For some reason, Homer never used the word “geek.”