How Microsoft will lose the next generation of gamers…
It’s hard to imagine that Microsoft could stumbled in the game world at this point. Since the launch of the Xbox 360 in 2005, they’ve been on fire. It wasn’t until more recent years that Sony even made a run at them with the PS3. Now as we inch closer to the next generation of consoles, it almost feels like Microsoft could lose the next ground of console wars.
The truth is, they already have.
I believe Microsoft’s downfall started when the tablet market took hold, and opened up a new world for independent game developers. For $99, or $25 on the Google Play market, a game developer can publish and manage their own game title, without the oversight of a large conglomerate, or the fee burden of a publisher and network.
Tools such as Unity, Corona, PhoneGap, and even Flash have given game designers the tools they need — for free — to release a blockbuster hit. I look around on the marketplace stores and I see single name developers, small studios that have 2 or 3 people making games, and I see them having the same success on the Apple Store as Bioware has on the shelves.
More and more console competitors are entering the marketplace via the Android OS, with consoles such as Ooya, and even the upcoming Steam Box. Independent developers now have multiple avenues to market their games, without having to bend to thousands of dollars in oversight and publishers.
But how does all this add up to the decline of Microsoft’s game console presence?
With the announcement of Sony’s next-gun Playstation 4 came the announcement that oversight and patch fees were coming to an end, and the doorway to indie developers was open. Now not only can some guy in his living room develop a great game and distribute it for tablets, he’ll be able to break into the console market on what I believe will be the king of the next-gen consoles. No more wishing they could develop a giant world, pick up a controller, and explore it. No more wishing they could harness the same power as the largest studios. It’s all going to be available.
But still, Microsoft will follow suit, right? I don’t think so.
Recently, one of the heads of the Xbox went on a rant on his personal blog asking why independent developers still can’t publish on the Xbox Marketplace. There should be tools for this developed, he said. Yet even now, old fashion Microsoft still seems to be stuck in their old fashion world of Office. Unless this mentality changes, which its been proven that it won’t, Microsoft’s reign is over.
Never underestimate the power of the independent developer community, or the people who buy their games. They’re dictating things right now, and the shift is going reverting to the old ways. The Playstation 4, Ooya, the upcoming Steam Box, and other independent developer friendly platforms will eclipse the next Xbox, leaving Microsoft in another state of denial, losing a war they could have won from the start.