In an interview with Gameplanet.com Australia, Microsoft’s Alan Bowman, Australasian VP of Retail Sales and Marketing and Steven Blackburn, Xbox Lead New Zealand, talked through the trials and tribulations of developing the original Xbox and Xbox 360, and what lessons were learned, and applied to each successive console iteration, all the way to the Xbox One and its introduction into the world.
Interestingly enough, when asked (by interviewer Matt Maguire) the question about who exactly is the core Xbox One consumer that MS is targeting with the Xbox One, Xbox Lead Steven Blackburn and Alan Bowman had quite the startling statements about who MS envisions as the core audience right now, and who they plan to cater to in the forthcoming years.
“At launch it’s the early adopter, the core of the core, guys that are passionate about core gaming experiences. There’s a buy-in either because of the brand association, or it’s looking forward to the future, or people responding to specific pieces of content, like Killer Instinct, Dead Rising, Forza. It’s absolutely as male and core-skewed as you can imagine, but that will change. We need to have the ability to be that broad church. It also needs to be easier. Gamers are willing to spend time configuring things, but someone who just wants to watch TV is not.” – Steven Blackburn
“We can’t let the tech be a barrier.” – Alan Bowman
It seems from their statement that Microsoft initially wants to attract the more hardcore crowd (they have), and keeping that model rolling, eventually would want to cater towards a more expansive market. How they plan to accomplish this is uncertain. Maybe through a more intuitive interface, better Kinect responsiveness and accuracy, a more plug-in-and-play experience? But then again, historically, this future-focus to a broader audience usually means less attention to the hardcore gaming audience’s wants and needs, and a push to produce content that has a bigger appeal to everyone, while shedding or downplaying the audience that initially made the console successful.
But in a Walgreen’s world, hopefully the above statements reflect Alan and Steven’s prediction that the Xbox One will become a more accepted device in the consumer household, because of its (let’s face it) amazing technological innovations as an all-in-one media center, as well as a decent gaming console.
Let’s just hope it’s not at the expense of the hardcore gamer brand the Xbox had become at the height of the original Xbox and the Xbox 360. More than ever, Microsoft needs to steer their ship back on course and pay attention to the hardcore fans that made their consoles a success throughout all these years.