Thursday, May 30, 2013

Used Games (Associated Notes)

We haven't talked about game rentals yet, but in terms of Xbox One games, they're finished.

Gamefly? Done. They'll push the previous generation for as along as they can, and offer Wii U games, but the fuse has been lit.

And if you're getting all excited about the PS4 and renting games, or thinking they're different from Microsoft, you might want to wait until Sony announces specifics, because they're being even more vague than Microsoft. I don't expect Sony's details to be substantially more consumer-friendly than Microsoft.

If they are, it will make the decision to purchase an easy one.

Here's what I see that I don't like. The PS2 was inexpensive and accessible to everyone, and Sony made a fortune. The Wii was inexpensive and accessible to everyone, and Nintendo made a fortune.

Does being inexpensive and accessible guarantee success? Of course not. It certainly didn't work for the Dreamcast (damn it). But does being expensive and inaccessible preclude success? I think you can make that argument, if by "success" you mean financially.

Remember how Sony famously called the PS3 an "aspirational" product? [Note: anyone who says their gaming console is "aspirational" should be fired immediately, and then fired a second time.] Many of the things Microsoft is posturing now remind me of things Sony said before the launch of the PS3. I think Microsoft is positioning the Xbox One as a borderline "elite" product. Less mass-market, more exclusive.

Don't like that.

Dennis Bond sent me an article today about a demographic I mentioned recently: the people who only use 3G/4G to access the Internet. I thought it was a small demographic, but The Rise of the Mobile-Only User (Harvard Business Review) corrects that misconception:
Young adults: 50 percent of teen smartphone owners, aged 12-17, say they use the internet mostly on their cell phone, according to a 2013 Pew Internet report on Teens and Technology. Similarly, 45 percent of young adults aged 18-29 reported in 2012 that they mostly go online with a mobile device.

Black and Hispanic adults: 51 percent of black Americans and 42 percent of Hispanic Americans who use a mobile device to access the internet say that's the primary way they go online — about double the 24 percent of white Americans who say they rely on their mobile devices for access.

Low-income adults: People whose household income is less than $30,000 per year and people with less than a college education are also more likely to rely on their mobile devices for access — about 40 percent of people in these groups say they primarily use their cell phone to go online. 

Maybe Microsoft has some kind of way to accommodate the people who only have mobile broadband access. They don't have a way to accommodate people with no broadband access, though.

Here's a pro-Microsoft perspective: the mass-market console is dead. It can't be revived. The market itself has been ripped apart, and what's re-formed is a substantially smaller market that wants a higher-end product. The only way to survive is to ignore the fish and focus on the whales.

Here's the thing, though: there will always be many, many more fish than whales. Many, many more.

How did Microsoft make its fortune? With fish.

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