The next console war has officially begun! Sony made big strides and sent waves around the industry with their recent PlayStation 4 unveiling. They made good moves and ultimately achieved what they needed to do the most, come out before Microsoft. Now, Microsoft has a good amount of time before they launch their barrage of system specifications and games this coming April. However, they have quite a few things to address and prepare for if they want the gamer gods to be in their favor this generation.
Shortly after the PS4 revealing, AMD went on an advertising campaign to showcase their new eye-candy feature known as Tress FX that is available on their GPU’s. This new feature utilizes real-time physics simulations to provide gamers with more realistic looking hair. By first creating, and then making each strand of hair affected by in-game effects such as wind or gravity. Hair takes on a natural look more akin to the real world. Lara Croft in the recent Tomb Raider reboot is the example on display for Tress FX and despite a slight “gimmicky” feeling, it is pretty darn cool. While some may scoff at the idea of highlighting a hair effect for Microsoft’s event, it would be worth exploring just to showcase the tech. For reference, the facial animation demo of the old man by Quantic Dreams was rather impressive and was one of the highlights of the PS4 event. While putting Tress FX at the forefront of the event would not be ideal, it would be a nice addition to a live demo of a heroine space marine running and gunning down waves of interstellar aliens.
Another item on the itinerary for Microsoft to address is the Kinect 2.0. It will supposedly bundle with every Xbox 720 and will need to be a prominent fixture during Microsoft’s showcase. Sony has decided to approach interactivity with the PS4 by way of the PlayStation Move and touch screen on the Dual Shock 4. The current Kinect moved millions of units when it was released in 2010 and is arguably more compelling than the PS Move, both then and now. This is an advantage for Microsoft and one that they should exploit come April. To capitalize on this, they should stress upgraded features such as faster transfer rates via USB 3.0 and a higher definition camera. These features, along with boosted hardware, could even allow gamers to be motion captured as the protagonists in games. No more fiddling with preset options in Dragon Age or Mass Effect, just use yourself.
If all else fails. Send in the celebrities, Microsoft! If there is one thing that remains consistent in advertisement, it is the power of celebrity endorsements. They currently employ this strategy on their Windows 8 phone with stars like Gwen Stefani, Will Arnett and Cam Newton, all flaunting their new toy. So if Microsoft were to transfer this strategy over and bring in celebrity gamers in the various fields of entertainment, they will have reached new audiences based solely on association with these stars. Although painful to state it, a new and improved Dance Central with Justin Bieber endorsing it or “collaborated with” like Jay-Z to the NBA 2k series would have a tremendous impact. To follow this up and strengthen this notion of being mainstream and hip to audiences they should also pitch a celebration of technology and gaming. Whereas the atmosphere of the PS4 conference took on a more serious and focused look into the future of gaming. The next Xbox can hammer home the idea that while gaming will come first with the new console, the experience it will provide as the main entertainment hub will be second to none. Cue fireworks, dancing bears, live music, Halo 5 screens and there just might be a little something for everyone.
Let’s face it. Sony did a great job with announcing the PS4 and put tremendous games to the forefront that all gamers will pine for until all becomes unveiled at E3. Microsoft has quite a bit of work ahead of them, but they can turn things in their favor. For one thing, the Kinect is a more engaging motion interaction device than the PlayStation Move and could very well be their X-factor come holiday season. While first-party games remain a sore spot for Microsoft, they only need to tease the future of first-person shooters on their console with the likes of Call of Duty or Gears of War to excite the fan base. Sony has drawn their line in the sand and Microsoft is going to have to respond. Regardless of how the revealing is going to go down, there is much to do. Your move Microsoft.