Threading the Needle at E3

E3 is the Super Bowl of the games industry.  People from around the world look forward to seeing the press conferences and being surprised by all of the great announcements.  The best part is always the ever famous, “one last thing” where Xbox, PS4 or Nintendo show you something that you were expecting and excited about or something that completely surprises and pleases.This year, however, there is a sense that we know what we are getting.  The most anticipated announcements are concerning what we already know.  It’s simply the details we are waiting for.  Next week, the PS4/PS4.5/PS4K/PS4 Neo and the new Xbox One are expected to show at E3.  The devil is in the details.  It is clear that the hardware manufacturers are in uncharted (no pun) territory.  They are doing something very unusual with new (but same?) hardware.  Will the gaming community embrace it?  Or will early adopters feel cheated on their investment?Messaging is key.  How do you convince the consumer that, after only 3 Holiday Seasons, its time for them to move on?  How do you convince them that the new consoles are what are best for their gaming experience?  Let’s consider the PS4 as the case study, as the newest console has been all but confirmed for 2016.  There are currently 40 million consoles in gamer’s hands.  Indeed, they are estimating that they will sell 20 million more by the end of 2017.  There is no sugar coating that, despite the success of Xbox One (yes it is a successful console), the PS4 has completely dominated this generation.One has to assume that the new PS4 will have an asking price of $400.  Now, let’s think about this.  It seems to be apparent that these new consoles are designed to introduce Virtual Reality.  The tech is expensive and takes a lot of power to run.  So here is the messaging from Sony.  If you want the best experience from PlayStation that will bring you the highest quality from our games and VR you need PS4 Neo and PlayStation VR.  And by the way, it’s going to cost you $800.  Meheh?Let’s not forget that we’ve gotten this type of behavior from Sony before.  The PlayStation 2 is the best selling console of all time.  So, when Sony announced the PlayStation 3, they were completely comfortable informing the public that they had to shovel $600 in order to get their hands on it.  Could this be a repeat?  After all, PS4 is the fastest selling console of all time.  Would it really surprise us that the hubris has returned?  We will definitely know at E3.Xbox and PlayStation have an uphill battle for selling you this new plan.  The good news is they’ve had plenty of time to come up with their strategy.  They have the benefit of witnessing and gauging the reaction from the gaming community.  I hope they understand that dropping the price of the current machine is not enough to soften the blow.  They have to incentivize their audience.  They started this generation by stating that this is the place for games.  Xbox, under the leadership of Phil Spencer, has righted the ship and now has the right messaging for their audience.  They have to sell these new concepts to consumers by keeping the gamer at the focal point.  With all the things they are rumored to have planned, I hope the eye of that needle is large enough. What do you think about the new consoles?  Will you feel burned as an early adopter or are you excited about the new tech?  Let us know in the comments below and check out this week’s podcast as we talk about all things E3.Game On!

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