Microsoft's Recent Performance Raises Doubts
Two years ago, Microsoft seemed to be on top of the consumer video game market with a strong lineup of exclusive titles and a loyal hardcore following. But with new pressure from Sony and aging hardware, the electronics giant has lost some of its swagger. Our staff writer Coty Biggs wonders what went so terribly wrong at Microsoft HQ.
For Microsoft, E3 was simply a symptom of a chronic illness that's accompanied this computer giant ever since capable competition arrived in the video game market. It's true that media coverage of the wild fanfare at E3 will tend to carry bias based on specific points of interest. However with a resounding push of the red fail button, Microsoft's shortcomings plunged the company down to eye level and allowed the fans and foes alike to finally agree on something: wtf are they doing?
E3 continues to provide a platform for new gadgets, games, plush toys, cute girls, posters, and any other pitch a company could possibly throw to further extend excitement and inspire brand dedication. With this in mind Microsoft should have brought their biggest and baddest creations from the depths of Bill Gate's basement in order to satisfy at least a mere portion of the attendees' desires. What they brought was completely underwhelming, and it's arguably worse than introducing nothing at all.
Things started going wrong for Microsoft during a stage presentation of Kinect last year at E3.
Let's begin with the supposed show-stopper Kinect. Not much more than a clever combo of the words Kinetic and Connect, Kinect performed dead last in the lineup behind Nintendo's Wii Motion Plus and Sony's Move. The kill-switch was thrown for Kinect during a press conference showcasing its abilities. Arriving at the point in the conference where the device's apparent "catch piece" was to be delivered like the "wow" factor in cheap infomercials, Kinect's indomitable presence was put to the test by showing...(drum roll please)...the bottom of the avatar's shoe! No need to ponder any longer you faithful green and white Xboys and girls, you can now see the tread on those sick virtual kicks. Is that not enough pizzaz? Then add some happy hands to the mix with a publicly humiliating hardware bug demonstration that was similar to a tourette's tick, drawing the displayed avatar into a noticeable twitch augmented by the system's rag doll physics. The last thing the audience needed from Microsoft was a meaty doubt sandwich, but that's what was on the menu for this side show.
Despite this failure there must be one thing Microsoft did do well, right? With the unintended cornerstone being the Xbox 360 Slim, this long awaited console addition is finally meeting the standard years after the fact. With a 250GB hard drive, built in WiFi, extra USB ports, a single quiet fan, and a sleek angular design, the 360 Slim is a product better suited to have replaced the 360 Elite on the drawing board.
This voodoo-like shrinking of consoles should represent a veritable metronome from the perspective of Microsoft, setting a pace with which the Xbox could keep tempo. Further, Moore's Law pertaining to smaller processors and diminishing cost of computing power should be applied alongside Sony, rather than using dirty sleights of hand in order to catch up. If a 30% fail rate on a console isn't proof of cutting corners, it would be interesting to see what is. The tidbits the 360 Slim reinforces are an unsatisfied potential to vastly influence the market, and the continual tardiness by Microsoft peeves folks by the truckload.
Like the future of gaming, Microsoft is at a crossroads. One in which the decisions made will be sink or swim. Although it's prudent not to heed notorious slippery slopes in this regard, it's still imperative Microsoft gets their game in order soon else their loyal patrons will lose faith in what's to come.
After Ms-DOS gave its first taste of success, the company's confidence in their inability to fail overshadowed a necessary focus on areas needing improvement. And rather than thinking for themselves since, Microsoft has followed in the footsteps of others' novel ventures performing the same song and dance as Windows after it ripped the first visual OS from Macintosh. What, if anything, will change the trend? It's time to stop looking at Stringer's paper and do your own work already. Shake it up and dish out something fresh, you need it.
Post author: Coty Biggs
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