Is the turnaround Microsoft has been waiting for upon us? The Xbox One is a very different machine than the one that landed in the video gaming world like a brick around this time last year. Itís cheaper, it has none of the most controversial parts of its digital rights management policies, the Kinect is no longer mandatory, the graphics processor may soon have a little more horsepower to play with, and the generally agreeable Phil Spencer is sitting at the helm. Microsoft announced that Xbox One sales have ďmore than doubledĒ in the month of June following the much-vaunted price cut and the general excitement surrounding E3. Could this mean that Microsoftís console is finally shaking the vestiges of its troubled launch?
There are still concerns: our knowledge of hardware sales still more or less exists at the whims of the companies selling the consoles, so when we hear ďdoubled,Ē we still donít really know what that means: we know that itís a great turnaround for the Xbox One under any circumstances, but we donít know the extent of its problems before that. The NPD report will be enlightening when it comes out. My guess is that the PS4 will still sit on top, but with a slightly more ascendant Xbox One behind it.
The Xbox One, at the moment, looks a whole lot like the PS4. Considering how well the PS4 is selling, that canít be such a bad thing. It still has TV navigation and an HDMI-in as distinguishing points, but that side of things just hasnít been the gamechanger Microsoft has been hoping for. As the company has been stressing in its press releases and interviews as of late, exclusives have once again become the main difference between the two consoles, and we still donít really know how thatís going to shake out.
The Xbox Oneís biggest problem right now is momentum. Even if itís a very similar buy to the PS4 right now, it hasnít been for a long time, and the PS4 has taken a sizable lead during that period. That makes a difference in the video game world ó not only do developers become more interested in optimizing for consoles with better install bases, but gamers also gravitate towards whichever multiplayer platform their friends are already using.
At the end of the day, I think weíre still a little far out from the next real proving ground for either the Xbox One or the PS4. Launch was the first, with Playstation winning over the hardcore gaming set decisively. Next we have to see how both the Xbox One and the PS4 start doing when more current-gen only games start coming out, both cross-platform and exclusive. With so many of those titles pushed back into 2015, I get the feeling weíll still be looking at a 2014 holiday season without any overwhelming software reasons for people to make the switch.