As Microsoft gets ready to release its Xbox One later this year, the crucial battle for players will be fought outside the U.S. where the console lags. Yet many of the new features the company touted yesterday won't win over global gamers.
The Xbox One's services such as Netflix and HBO Go are geared toward Americans. The ability to navigate live television using the Kinect cameras and microphone, as well as the built-in TV guide and National Football League content, will only be available in the U.S. when the consoles first hit store shelves, Microsoft said in a statement.
The features could help Microsoft extend its lead in the U.S., where it has held the top-selling spot for 28 straight months, but the company may need more to attract gamers overseas. Climbing out of third place in the worldwide console market won't be easy for Microsoft, which trails Sony’s PlayStation 3 by 2 million units, according to research firm IDC. Nintendo effectively won the war of this console generation by selling 99.4 million Wii units compared with 76 million Xbox 360 systems.
However, Nintendo’s Wii has been sputtering for years, and its successor, the Wii U, isn't off to a promising start. Sony has the momentum this year practically everywhere except in the U.S. and U.K., where the Xbox 360 is leading in sales, according to VGChartz.com, an industry researcher that provides weekly sales estimates. The PlayStation 3 is ahead in the rest of Europe and in Japan this year, according to the data.
Video-game systems are becoming the entertainment hub in many living rooms around the world. Manufacturers can use them to boost their other businesses, like mobile devices for Microsoft or entertainment content for Sony. With features like Skype built into the Xbox One, they are also becoming social-networking devices, where the experience is improved when everyone has the same console.
Coming next: Sony plans to show off its PlayStation 4 on June 10 at the E3 Expo, an annual video-game trade show. The world’s gamers will also be looking to see whether Microsoft has any surprises left to sway their console allegiance. This game is far from over.
--With assistance from Jordan Robertson.