The Future of Games

After approximately 7 years with the current generation of video game consoles, the upcoming holiday season is looking to be huge for Microsoft and Sony. In February Sony announced the Playstation 4 along with a variety of features and specs, games, and a general release window of holiday 2013. Microsoft has yet to announce their console, known to the press as Durango, but are expected to unveil it at E3 2013. (E3 is the Electronic Entertainment Expo where the major contenders in the industry each hold their biggest press events and announce the latest titles in their brand.)

Both of these companies must tread carefully, as a new system is both a considerable time and money expenditure. This past November Nintendo released the follow-up to their Wii, the Wii U, to a lukewarm reception. The line-up of games initially released with the console weren’t exceptionally outstanding or used the unique qualities of the system to display the potential of the Wii U. Perhaps the biggest mistake Nintendo made was not knowing their audience. Why was the Wii so popular? Because of the accessibility it presented to consumers of any age that could just pick up a controller and play. Clearly the higher-ups in the company could not recreate this unique selling point for the Wii U.

What are the challenges Sony and Microsoft face? There’s clearly a variety of them. They’ll most likely never gain the accessibility that a system such as Wii offers, and instead will aim for that through peripherals such as the Xbox 360’s Kinect. As a result of the economic slump there’s likely more emphasis on the system being affordable; however, the addition of recent technology in the new systems means that they’ll probably be selling for upwards of $400 to $500. Moreover the systems need a good set of exclusive games and developer names associated with them. If 2 different systems are released at similar price points and the features are relatively the same, oftentimes the deciding factor are the games that a consumer can only get on one system and not the other.

The final point I’d like to mention is that both Sony and Microsoft need to have awareness in the manufacturing of their consoles. Going back to the Wii example, during the initial release of the Wii units were often backlogged for weeks or months and would-be buyers had difficulty finding systems. This means there might’ve been a possible loss of sales as consumers gave up trying to buy a Wii. Sony and Microsoft need to ensure an adequate amount of stock for the first season of their new consoles.

Do you think the recent recession will have a huge impact on the sales of these new systems? Will Nintendo be able to recover from the mediocre release of the Wii U? What will be the deciding factor of what consumers choose to purchase?