Recently, Microsoft has been pushing more towards a service-oriented company and expanding what the Xbox brand can do outside of the hardware department. You would think with this push towards a service-oriented company that they would kill of the hardware department? Don’t fear.
While digital is taking the world by storm and is slowly becoming the norm across industries, especially on the gaming side of things. Retail is still a force to be reckon with and is still part of the conversation despite retail slowly being irrelevant. There are some people that still go out and buy games and simply enjoy owning something that they can hold and that they can have like collector’s editions or special editions.
If Microsoft pulls itself away from the retail space, removing not only the exclusives that they’ll start dropping but also the next generation Xbox and what comes next in the lifecycle of that generation, it would kill the goodwill that they have built and put in danger everything that Microsoft has built with the Xbox brand since 2001 and like everything, there is evidence that points to the opposite side of the spectrum; look at Valve and what Valve has done with Steam. Steam killed the physical side of PC Gaming that was prevalent before the beginning of the mid-2000s. Not only did the physical side go away but PC Gamers went directly to Steam and PC hardware went with it and in this decade, many laptops and desktops have foregone disc drives. Microsoft isn’t Valve and can’t magically pull off what Valve did with the PC market, Microsoft still relies on retail to help push whatever it is that they’re trying to get out the door.
On top of that, I still think that Microsoft wants to serve anyone who is in the Xbox ecosystem and wants to pull anyone who is interested in the Xbox into the ecosystem, no matter where they play like on the Switch or on mobile. It’s no secret that Microsoft values the Xbox brand and has been quite open with the business end of the Xbox brand, you need to make money by selling software rather than the hardware itself. There are still plenty of gamers out there that still wants a home console experience and Microsoft wouldn’t ditch them or else they’ll send them over to the competition. Microsoft is pushing towards a service-oriented company that is all about options and experimenting with things like Project Maverick and Xbox Game Pass.
If streaming does become the future of gaming ( which I believe it will but it won’t be right away), the hardware itself wouldn’t go away. The hardware will become the best way to still play games and will become the best way to experience the best of what Xbox has in store.
I’m not really concerned for the future of Xbox hardware despite the push to a digital future and a streaming future that might take off. Project xCloud and their new push towards becoming a service-oriented company could potentially bring something unprecedented and with that level of access then that means you have more customers who are on the fence or who are interested in the ecosystem and you can pull them in, this also means more cash, more investment, and a bigger base then just the traditional Xbox consumer. All of this will not end in disaster.
The Microsoft and the Xbox brand of 2019 is a very different beast to the Microsoft and the Xbox brand of the past, despite how fast we’re headed towards an all-digital future and potentially a streaming future, I believe that Microsoft will continue to serve traditional gamers like myself and there are still plenty of people that will probably still prefer the home console experience when that future comes.
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