Both the Xbox Series X and Series S are fantastic consoles for Microsoft, each with their own merits. But, while Microsoft’s current-gen consoles are a strong offering, their launches left something to be desired, with problems persisting several months since the consoles’ release.
So, what can Microsoft learn from the launch of the Xbox Series X/S and the successive months after? Let’s take a look.
1. Grow From the Issues Highlighted by the Pandemic and Global Chip Shortage
With both the pandemic keeping most people at home and the global chip shortage limiting the number of Xbox Series X/S consoles available, it’s incredible that Microsoft—and Sony for that matter—has sold as many consoles as it has, with Microsoft declaring the launch of the Xbox Series X a huge success.
However, there are two fundamental things Microsoft can learn from launching two next-gen consoles during a pandemic and global chip shortage.
First, with more people staying at home than ever before because of the pandemic, there’s going to be an extreme demand for all things gaming, especially next-gen consoles. More demand means more sales, which means more profit from gamers buying into Microsoft’s ecosystem and its services.
Second, plan accordingly for if/when there’s a global chip shortage. It seems like every tech hardware company, not just Microsoft, took its electronic component supplies and smoothness of logistics for granted, and didn’t scale back any operations or manage expectations—at least, not to its consumer base.
It’s a delicate line to walk, as Microsoft obviously can’t satisfy extreme demand while simultaneously experiencing stock shortages. However, things are going to be a lot more difficult if you don’t at least account and plan for these things.
Regardless of Microsoft reporting a successful launch, the reality paints more complex picture. Let’s hope the next Xbox launch is as smooth as it is successful, without a pandemic, or component shortages, to worry about.
2. Look at Alternate Methods to Small Stock Drops
While there’s a global chip shortage that’s affecting the gaming industry, there’s going to be a shortage of Xbox Series X consoles. And, unfortunately, this could last another year or two at least.
With this in mind, Microsoft is currently dropping Xbox Series X setups seemingly as and when they’re available, where they’re immediately snapped up.
While this can appear to be what gamers want—”hey, we’re giving them to you as soon as they’re ready”—in reality, you have to be one of two types of people to stand a good chance of getting a current-gen Xbox from retailers: someone that obsessively tracks Xbox stock at all times, or a console scalper.
The former is incredibly demoralizing and both time and energy-consuming, the latter is immoral, unethical, and destroys any form of fair trade in the marketplace.
Microsoft should look at alternate methods to just drip-feeding Series X and Series S stock to the masses, such as saving up for a huge stock drop and letting fans know when, or creating a fully fledged lottery system to give gamers a fairer chance of purchasing a current-gen Xbox (more on this later).
3. Design and Enforce Effective Large-Scale Anti-Scalping Procedures
One major reason it’s incredibly difficult for you to get your hands on an Xbox Series X/S is console scalpers.
By now, you’ll have likely seen scalping groups boasting about their unethically gained numbers of Xbox Series Xs and PS5s, offering each one for a price that can reach the thousands.
What you won’t have seen, however, is a swift response from Microsoft (and most retailers) in trying to prevent console scalping.
It doesn’t give the best impression for Microsoft to report record sales and profits when most people trying to get an Xbox Series X have seen many scalpers boasting to have depleted the most recent stock drop… again.
However, it’s not all bad. Earlier this year, Microsoft gave Xbox One owners the chance to reserve an Xbox Series X/S, but until this reaches more people and becomes more sophisticated, you’re going to have to take anti-scalping measures into your own hands.
4. Do Not Price Hike Your Subscriptions in the Middle of a Pandemic
So there’s a global pandemic, with many people financially struggling as a result. People are at home, gaming as a form of escapism. And, in doing so, we’ve contributed to record profits for Microsoft during a pandemic.
So what does Microsoft do? Double the price of Xbox Live Gold.
In January, Microsoft announced an increase to Xbox Live Gold, which meant that gamers paying $60 for the year would now have to pay $120. Ouch.
Needless to say, gamers met this tone-deaf and downright greedy move with such backlash that it was immediately reversed, with Microsoft issuing an apology for the Xbox Live Gold price hike with a news post on Xbox.com.
So why is this related to the Xbox Series X/S launch?
Well, despite selling huge numbers of Series X consoles, Microsoft doesn’t actually make a profit on the consoles themselves; it makes profit from the new gamers now paying into its services and games, integrating themselves into its ecosystem.
This price hike could’ve tied into the Series X launch so that Microsoft could further profit off its increasing player base. Not a great move by Microsoft, and certainly one it should not attempt again—particularly in a pandemic.
5. Keep Listening and Communicating With Your Player Base
The most important lesson Microsoft should take, and has taken to an extent, is to continue listening and communicating with its player base.
As mentioned, Microsoft backtracked on its Xbox Love Gold price hike after backlash, and it also trialed a method to minimize scalping—both positive steps.
While there are stock shortages, scalpers, and a semiconductor chip crisis, and while the world is climbing out of a pandemic, Microsoft needs to keep listening and working with its player base to ensure it keeps both sides happy.
Open, honest communication, constructive decisions, and business choices that don’t take advantage of Microsoft’s loyal customers are what’s going to prove that Microsoft is a company that cares for its player base.
Series X or Series S—Which Xbox Will You Choose?
While the launch of the Xbox Series X and Series S could have been better, and there’s a lot for Microsoft to learn from it, these current-gen consoles offer a fantastic gaming experience.
As we wait for things to return to normal, Microsoft can keep improving the Xbox experience in the meantime and grow from this, so that future-generation console launches will be more successful and less chaotic.
If you’re still waiting for Xbox stock to become available, it’s worth making sure you’re certain of which console you want—the Series X or Series S.
Got your eye on the next-gen Xbox console but don’t know which model to buy? Here are some tips to help you decide.
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