Last Tuesday, Microsoft unveiled its next-gen gaming platform – the Xbox One. Building off of a history of successfully selling gaming consoles featuring many popular gaming franchises, gamers were excited to see where the future of gaming was going. During the press conference, we analyzed over 500k real-time conversations, which during the day eventually grew to be over 2MM+ consumer reactions and related conversations. In our subsequent analysis we were able to understand the reaction consumers had to the reveal, identified what keys features were driving consumers’ intent to purchase the Xbox One, and discovered insights that informed recommendations to help Microsoft reach key audiences that disagreed with some of the Xbox’s new messaging.
Overall, the average consumer reacted positively to the reveal and we saw discussions appear across the entire social web.
Twitter was the best source to understand the overall reach of Microsoft’s live press release, but to delve deeper into whether or not Microsoft’s current marketing strategy was working or not, we looked at other outlets. We found that the Gamer-centric blogs and forums like IGN.com and Penny-Arcade.com were crucial in understanding what newly announced features were driving consumers to want to purchase the Xbox One. From our analysis, we were able to understand in real-time what the top three leading factors in purchasing the new platform were:
- The new games and their exclusive content – Call of Duty Ghosts had consumers the most excited. The “dog” gameplay mechanic drove much of the engagement.
- The Kinect – consumers love the voice and gesture controls the new Kinect enables. Conversations particularly spiked when The Price is Right popped up on the big screen.
- The Controller – the new D-Pad and the “impulse” are considered by consumers to be great innovations.
Of course, not every consumer was happy with what Microsoft unveiled during the event. In order to discover whether Microsoft made the right marketing decisions, we dove deeper into the conversation to identify the features that were disappointing to consumers and how particular consumer segments opinions differed. Using social data we focused on what Teens, Millennials, and Gen X’ers thought about the Xbox One.
When we analyzed what Teens thought about the Xbox One, we saw the conversation become far more polarized for both economic and utilitarian reasons.
Teens’ largest complaints about the Xbox One were:
- The cloud-based delivery method for the games
- The lack of backwards compatibility
- The secretive stance on the ability to play used games (This is important to them because most Teens lack the purchasing power required to buy every new game)
Recommendation: Publicly discuss the benefits that consumers will have because of the Xbox One relying on a cloud-based gaming service. For example teens no longer have to get their parents to drive them to the store, or wait until midnight outside a store for the early release. Teens also never have to worry about losing their games or having them stolen since they are all digitally stored on their Xbox Ones.
When we analyzed Millennials, we found out that they were as equally mixed about the reveal as the Teens were. As we dove deeper, we discovered that Millennials felt that the presentation and the new features were not gamer-centric enough. They felt that Microsoft was focusing too much on being the next-generation entertainment platform, and not enough on being a gamer platform. Some even felt that Microsoft was almost being disloyal to the consumers that made the Xbox 360 the gaming juggernaut it is today. Other Millennials also had concerns about the Kinect being a requirement for the Xbox’s operation. Many gamers had experience with the current Kinect not being precise enough for hardcore gamers.
Recommendation: Refresh messaging for E3 to make a bolder statement directed to gamers. Focus on more of the technical features (like the accuracy of the Kinect), hands-on demos so gamers can discuss with others about feeling comfortable with the device, and release a list of more games and stop relying upon cinematic videos in lieu of actual gameplay when presenting to gamers. In-general curating a number of fan-events that involve early access to products would dramatically increase the number of brand advocates for the Xbox One.
Out of the three audiences we analyzed, the Gen X’ers were the most positive towards the new platform. What they disliked though was the form factor of the Xbox, because it reminded them of the early oversized VCRs from the ‘90s. In this case nostalgia was not winning with Gen X’ers
Recommendations: Since the Xbox One has been officially revealed its form factor is not going to change until later platform evolution’s (as was the case with all of its predecessors and competitors). What should be done then is to leverage the formerly negative feelings towards the Xbox One’s design and rework those comments into a humorous advertising campaign that plays with the concept of the Xbox One’s resemblance to an old VCR. Examples could be “This isn’t Your Mother’s VCR” or “In 1983 all it could do was play tapes and lose the remote – today you can control what you watch with two words and a wave of your hand.”
Overall though, Microsoft’s reveal of the Xbox One was successful with the general consumer, but in these early days having this much discontent building within the hardcore gamer communities is not an advantage for a strong product launch. If Microsoft wants to take the lead and continue to push the forthcoming PlayStation 4 out of the picture they need to adjust their messaging and re-assure the gamer communities that they are for them. This goes beyond presenting cinematics from games and passing them off as actual “game-play.” There’s still time though and with E3 only a few weeks away, we’ll see how consumer conversations around the Xbox One evolve.