Xbox One: From Hardcore to Family Friendly and Why Gamers Complain

Xbox One: From Hardcore to Family Friendly and Why Gamers Complain

New XBOX ONE

I call myself a gamer usually. Though I don’t always have the time to actually sit down and turn up my Xbox 360. I played games enough and are still in the community to understand what’s in gamer’s mind. I’ve been trying to put my fingers on the new Xbox One release and why gamers, especially hardcore gamers, hate it. I think I can relate.

Some say they don’t understand where gamer’s rage come from. After all pricing stays the same and the product become better. But pricing always stays around the same or even less for newer products, or no one will buy them unless something unique justify the price increase. That’s people’s expectation now. The thing people complaining, especially the more hardcore gamer bunch, is the direction Xbox One is going. It’s going from a dedicated hard-core gaming console (by dedicating I mean dedicate on hardware, OS, integration, feature sets, etc.) to a generic ‘a-little-bit-of-everything’ set-top-box. I think gamers felt a bit like getting ‘cheated’. You have to understand those hardcore gamers, they take it very very seriously. When you are playing COD and you’re about to die if not jumping off a platform to avoid the incoming bullets, that one second delay because of Netflix or other features will be the difference between living and dying for them.

Yes there are casual gamers, but they don’t really care about Xbox or Playstation or Wii, hell they are happy enough with a Galaxy or iPhone even. (Which is totally fine, I’m a casual gamer now myself and liking it.)

I think gamers are upset because Microsoft uses its influence and success on Xbox which is popped up by gamers to pursue its other agendas and leaving gamers behind (or marginalized at least). And as we know it, more often than not, Microsoft’s new agenda won’t be welcomed with great success for some time now… So this feels like a ‘omen’ to gamers.

Will the shift on Xbox One get them more sales because of the shift to broader audiences? Maybe. But at what cost? The exodus of most of their core gamers customers?

I really don’t know whether this is a good thing for them or not.

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People Are Walking Away from Theaters and It’s OK

theatre-seats

Image Source: mamadrama.com

Less and less people go to theaters nowadays. Ticket price is hiking so do the gas price. More ‘long tail’ contents like PSY’s ‘Gungnam Style’ are pulling people’s attention here and there. What I observed is a role shift of the theater from ‘main-stream-cheap-no-brainer’ choice of weekend entertainment to upscale-expensive-optimized-experience once several months. Why? Because cheaper substitutes emerge, with Netflix, Hulu, etc. on the service side and smartphone, tablet, smart TV, LTE on the hardware side. And content is shifting from a mass market dominating ‘hit economy’ to a more commoditized ‘long tail economy’, leading by the prevalence of Youtube, Vimeo, and thousands of user created contents.

Old business case needs  retooling and new models need to be invented.

Forgive me if I’m being too dramatic on this, but like Charles Dickens put it:

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’.

‘House of Cards’ : Refreshing Viewing Experience

HOC quote

So since everyone is talking about ‘House of Cards‘, I decided to throw in my 2 cents. As always, I’ll try to focus on the experience part. I promise, this one blog will be concise.

  • Being able to watching the entire season is REALLY REALLY GREAT! No waiting needed whatsoever.
  • Having known that, I found myself not wanting to see it all in one weekend. Kinda like little kids save their Halloween candy and not wanting to eat them all too quickly. It’s a secret pleasure.
  • Flexible when viewing is great. I start viewing in my media room with HD projectors, then go downstairs to my iMac, then end up in bed with my iPad. It’s true to all Netflix content though.
  • The show is amazing. Legit characters, great plot, Kevin’s ‘directly speaking to you’ monologues, very well written copy. The quality level is on par if not better than other hit HBO shows.
  • Modern day references you can relate to make it feel real. Kevin’s playing XBOX games, Zoe’s blogging practice get mocked by her journalist colleagues, iPhone text messaging back and forth displayed on-screen as an overlay, Twitter references (‘In today’s life, when you’re talking to one guy, you’re talking to thousands’ – Zoe), and don’t even mention all the ‘blatant’ Apple devices in every scene. (Can’t say whether it’s products placement though since Apple never do placement)
  • To be continued. 

‘Less is More’: Netflix Gets It

‘Less is More’: Netflix Gets It

netflix_less_is_more

This is the first time I came across Netflix’s ‘HR Deck’. Turns out it’s actually pretty famous and well spread. Today, Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg called the deck ‘the most important document ever to come out of the Valley.’ For those of you haven’t read it, here’s the original copy.

There are many facets of their HR strategy that are worthy of a deep dive. To me, the most intriguing part is their focus on keeping their ‘corporate policy’ as simple as possible. Actually their policies for Expensing, Entertainment,Gifts and Travel is five words: “Act in Netflix’s Best Interests.’ Stunningly simple, right? But what’s not simple is, to achieve this, they need to hire high performance, self-motivated employees. They also need to align them with corporate visions to motivate them, and pay top notch salaries to keep them. What will sound really hard is, in an ever changing tech industry, they need to remain successful and get through all kinds of disruption changes coming their way (like the big change on switching from DVD mailing centric model to an online streaming based strategy).

That comes to the point of this blog: Less is more. They hire less people, but with better performance and more dedication; apply less policy, but rely on more self-discipline and good judgement; less fake promotion (promotion just to keep people from leaving, not due to bigger job), more power and fulfillment on position.

With less, they are trying to achieve more. Does anyone did this before? Yes, Apple! Apple is claimed to be the ‘biggest startup company in the world’. Apple apply similar HR philosophy, flat corporate structure and remain nimble and fast no matter how big the company is.

Can Netflix repeat Apple’s success? Very likely. Because for this model to work, there is one critical condition:

Must be in an industry that value creativity exponentially instead of linearly. 

Only in a creative industry, high caliber talents with creativity are able to generate value many times more than traditional industry. In short, creativity and talent need to scale exponentially on value generation. Only in this case, hiring a smaller group of highly talented people will trump hiring a bigger group of mediocre people. Case in points, movie, music industry.

Is Netflix in the ‘right’ industry? Yes. They are in the media consuming industry, which is undergone a disruptive change from Internet and mobile. Digital media is the future, and the old empire of cable TV is crumbling. People need creative solutions to the new problem of media consuming in digital and mobile age. Need proof? Look no further at the expectation level of new Apple iTV.

So it seems Netflix gets it and are working on getting through some hurdles. We’ll see how things develop in TV and media consuming market and how well Netflix lives up to its own words.

Will Netflix become the next Apple? What do you think?