Case Study of Wrong: Microsoft’s Xbox One Reveal

In Customer Engagement, Featured on App, Marketing and Sales, Social media by Vaughn Highfield

Xbox One

Case Study of Wrong is a light-hearted look at a particular company or brand that has done something to alienate customers or damage its reputation. Ultimately: don't do what they've done!

Yesterday in a big tent in Redmond, the world said hello to the next-generation of Microsoft's home console system as it revealed its newest Xbox console: the perplexingly named Xbox One.

Okay, it's name isn't that perplexing when you realise that Microsoft want it to be an all-in-one media system that lets you watch TV on your TV via your Xbox One – because that's what we all really want to do right?

Featuring an always-on new version of the Kinect motion tracking sensor, a redesigned controller  and, as a piece of hardware, looking worryingly clunky and large – a bit like a mid ‘00s hi-fi – the Xbox One is sure to be a welcome piece of kit for any home.

As a console, Microsoft haven't done anything too shocking to warrant them being placed in our Case Study of Wrong series. However, the press release itself was a marketing disaster that focused not only on the wrong areas, but also raised questions that people shouldn't have been asking.

Unlike Sony's rather stellar performance with the PlayStation 4 event where they informed viewers about the ins and outs of the system's software and hardware, leaving nearly no stone untouched and answering fans questions simply after the event had aired. Microsoft found themselves in a spiralling storm of crossed wires and mixed messages that just smacked of an unprepared marketing strategy and team.

People walked away from Sony's event wondering what the PS4 would look like.

People walked away from Microsoft's event with a plethora of questions surrounding online connectivity, useability, Kinect, games and if it'll allow you to play pre-owned titles.

Microsoft's response was hardly conclusive.

SEE ALSO: The Most Popular Man In Space – Chris Hadfield and Getting Social Media Right

News outlets were being told different things by Microsoft's marketing people and executives.

One site would report that it blocked previously owned games, or had to be always connected to the internet to be played. At the same time another site would be told the complete opposite by a Microsoft representative.

It just smacked of poor marketing strategy and a confused and divided workforce who really didn't know what they were talking about. It was almost as if Microsoft had rushed ahead with the reveal – which is surprising as they were prepared to reveal everything nearly a year ago but decided not to.

Once the dust had settled it was still unclear as Microsoft's community man Larry Hryb failed to clarify exactly what Microsoft's measures meant.

Even the presentation was a mess as the focus was on completely the wrong area – as this 1.5 minute video nicely sums up.

While Sony's event brought viewers gameplay with people onstage actually playing PS4 titles, as well as demonstrations of the sharing and video recording features – with a post put directly onto Facebook as it was uploaded from a PS4 – Microsoft's didn't.

It was almost as if they weren't aware of who would be tuning into the event.

It's a given that those interested enough in Xbox One to tune in and watch the stream live will be interested in video games and Microsoft. They wouldn't be your average consumer. Therefore, any sensible marketer would understand that it's all about making sure you connect with these people, as they're also more than likely to be lining up on day one to purchase the console.

Instead MS presented a showcase that focused on completely the wrong areas, looking at television and sports before moving back to television again and wrapping up with "gameplay" footage of the new Call of Duty: Ghosts.

It was a show of pure confusion, it looked as if they were only interested in big blockbusters and marketing speak. It was an event full of supposed gameplay footage – despite nobody playing a game nor any actual game footage being shown. After showing the world the console they whisked everyone away to look at what it could do down the line, rather than what it currently does do.

Buzzwords just don't work at these events. Indeed, buzzwords fall flat on their face once they leave the boardroom. If the press don't give a damn about what they all mean, then why would the general public?

This entire event just showed that not only do Microsoft need to better understand their audience at events, but the world of marketing needs to be taken by the shoulders and shaken until they realise the terms they use just don't make sense.

Microsoft can certainly redeem themselves at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (known as E3) where the year's biggest video game releases are announced and showcased. However that seems unlikely with MS's new focus on the TV and their admission of dropping out of the high-end graphics race.

If anything, Microsoft's event has meant that Sony really don't have to try hard to win over video game fans across the globe.

The truest sign of how spectacularly Microsoft failed can be found in the fact that, during the presentation, Sony's share prices began to rise by 9 per cent.

SEE ALSO: Case Study of Wrong: Abercrombie & Fitch


At this year's Loyalty World Europe, part of Europe's Customer Festival, you'll be able to find the right marketing strategies to help you convey your product properly to customers – thus avoiding such debacles as this. You can find out more here.


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