By 9cupsoftea 122 Comments
Even before you get to consumer choices, brand loyalties, exclusive games, or preference, a big portion of gamers aren't even able to use xbone. By current figures (which seem quite rough) 76 million xboxes have been sold, but there just over 45 million xbox live users - just under half the people who own 360s have NEVER connected their consoles online. That's before you factor in people with multiple accounts, family members/housemates on the same xbox. It's likely the figure is closer to 50%, perhaps over that.
Even if you try to spin it positively and say that half of those users could be forced to connect online if they wished, then that still makes nearly 20% 360 owners who will never be able to use an xbone no matter how desperately they'd like to.
On top of that, many countries at launch (including places like Poland, Portugal, the Ukraine, and most of South America) won't support the online checking system required to play. This probably accounts for a small percentage of 360 users (I can't find clear figures), but when you consider military personnel in foreign bases, imported systems, or those who move countries a lot (like me) the number of people locked out increases. Some of these countries will be supported at later dates no doubt, but it may be too late by then.
Do MS think that TV watchers and skypers will fill in for the gamers unable to use the xbone? Or do they expect fewer people to pay more for the services of the xbone? I doubt they will. And where can there be growth? Any person in any country is a potential PS4 customer, but only a segment of people in a minority of countries are potential xbone buyers.
I've bought and sold used games through ebay, but most people, e.g, kids without credit cards, or people who do their shopping at brick and mortar stores, still give a lot of their business to places like gamestop, game, CEX or mom and pop stores. Now microsoft is going up against used games they're also butting heads with these guys.
The considerable store space dedicated to used games will now be entirely owned by PS4 and Wii u games. There are already rumours of gamestop putting out flyers warning against MS DRM, and it's well-known their staff are incentivised to push used games on people because of the greater profit margins. Now they also have an incentive to push the PS4 onto consumers instead of the xbone. Considering how powerful they were in the last gen with securing exclusive content, partnerships with publishers, and pre-order bonuses, it'll probably count for something that their business depends on the xbone failing.
3. Snowballing success
A larger install base and word of mouth are probably the biggest factors for a successful console. When consoles 'win' the console war, they don't just win, they trounce the opposition (see the PS1, PS2, and NES). This past gen was peculiar in that each of the big three had a substantial slice of the pie. Nobody won, and more importantly, nobody lost.
Since then we've had an economic crash, the rise of mobile platforms, a resurgence of PC gaming through indies and kickstarter, and a big decline in games sales. Even the successor to the Wii is selling poorly, and there probably isn't enough room for two big consoles. By making decisions that ensure the PS4 will survive, Sony may have killed the xbone by default. Exclusives are great, but even the dreamcast had Shenmue.
The PS4 will almost definitely come out of the gate with an advantage due to it's current momentum. Add to that all those who can't connect online, those tempted by the price, the techies who always want the most powerful system, the used games buyers, those in unsupported countries, and it's almost a sure bet that there will be a huge split in favour of the PS4.
When the majority of your friends own a PS4, it makes sense to buy one too - to share games, chat online, and get the most out of a system. When the majority of gamers own a PS4, it makes sense to develop your games for that platform too. The xbone may be an afterthought, or even worse, too risky for developers a year or so into this gen.
I've no doubt MS will pull out the big guns at some point in the first year, but whether they remove the DRM, grab some great exclusives, or lower the price of games - it will probably be too late.
4. All the rest
Price, power, freedom - all the things we've been talking about are big reasons to buy a PS4, but even so, I think a lot of people are underestimating just how huge these things are. Perhaps it's because games media exist in a west coast, big city, always online, gaming-as-a-lifestyle bubble, but there's a silent majority out there who determine what lives and dies in video gaming.
The xbone has more in common with the troublesomely complicated CDI, the overpriced Saturn, or the unfortunately timed and uncompetitive dreamcast, than it does with the innovative, cheap(er), gaming focused 360.
Games journalists and wealthy fans will buy an xbone, but when the far, far larger portion value-conscious, rights-concerned, regular gamers are almost unanimously drawn to the PS4, they may find themselves with just another unsupported failed gaming box to pack in the cupboard alongside with the rest.