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How do you sell a next-gen console? | GamesIndustry International


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Seven years on from the launch of Xbox 360, the first thing to say is it had bloody better be a "quantum leap" from the creaking innards of today's systems. The issue, naturally, isn't that the tech clearly will be an order of magnitude more powerful - it's how platform holders and software publishers can articulate this and "sell" the next-gen vision to spoilt-for-choice consumers via marketing and content.

That there are mixed feelings, depending on who you speak to, about the potential of the next console cycle is hardly in doubt. With official announcements from Microsoft and Sony expected well within the next 12 months, apathy from within certain quarters of the industry itself is worrying if not altogether surprising. But what about consumers?

The HD era began with Xbox 360 as a pure gaming machine; now it's an entertainment hub that also happens to play games. Microsoft always said this generation would be about software and services, and EA now explicitly sees its games less as "products" and more as "services", with Peter Moore recently observing: "Games are turning into 365 days a year live operation experiences".

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Looking at every single launch title across PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360 and PS3, I see only a single, clear system-seller in there: the original Halo. Now, you could argue - and I wouldn't disagree - that Xbox was the only one of these systems that desperately needed a standout launch title to justify its existence. What I would say now is, for the first time in two cycles, and entering into a far less certain world as they will be, both PS4 and the next Xbox need a 'killer app' to get them out of the blocks.

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