I'd be a hypocrite if I said that I wasn't interested in the Xbox One X. It's power, and potential to deliver stunning gameplay is undeniable. The Xbox One X is by all reports, the Bugatti Veyron of video game consoles. But, just as the Veyron is rare and expensive, so it will be with the Xbox One X. At least for a while. I understand what Microsoft is trying to do. It's quite clear that they wanted to crush the perception that Sony had the most powerful hardware. Microsoft can proudly check that box off. Now what?

I choose to believe that Microsoft's development of the Xbox One X was seen as necessary in order for them to be truly competitive, and relevant. It has been my feeling that Microsoft has incrementally tried to reverse the effects of it's poor decisions and marketing in 2013. It was bad enough that the original Xbox One was more expensive than the PS4. It was also technically inferior. But, some four years after the launch of the original Xbox One and PS4, how many people will care?

Last year, I was leaning hard towards Microsoft. Yes, I knew Sony had the more powerful hardware, but... well, I like the Xbox. I always have. I love the special edition consoles and controllers. I love the Halo games. I grew to love the ease of navigating and using Xbox Live. And, whether it's always true or not, I have this perception that Microsoft makes quality products. So what stopped me?

I suspect most shoppers have a checklist of things that they compare when deciding to buy a new console. For myself, I already knew that power is not always a primary concern for me. Although I love new technology, it goes without saying that it's the quality of our experiences with new technology that really sticks in our minds. With regards to video games consoles, that means software. The PS4 won me over because there were several appealing games that were exclusive to the hardware. Uncharted 4, Bloodborne, Horizon Zero Dawn, the Killzone series, The Last of Us.

 

BELIEVE the hype. Truly a great game.

 

By contrast, the only games drawing me to the Xbox One were Quantum Break and Ori and the Blind Forest. And Titanfall, which is no longer an Xbox One exclusive. At my local Walmart, during the 2016 holiday season, The PS4 dropped to $249. The Xbox One was $299. What would have been your choice?

And of course, I haven't even mentioned Nintendo yet.

Way back in 2013, it's safe to say neither Sony or Microsoft were worried about Nintendo. Even then, it had become clear that the Wii U was not going to be the sales monster the Wii had been. The Wii U had some truly fantastic exclusives, but it's near total lack of third party support was almost impossible to overlook.

 

Enter The Nintendo Switch

 

Even at the start of 2017, there was a great deal of skepticism that Nintendo could get it's house in order, and win back the many who had been disappointed by the Wii U. I think even the most dedicated of Nintendo fans were feeling wary of what was then known as the "NX". And, as has always been the case since the days of the N64, two questions loomed over the NX. Would it be powerful enough, and it would it have decent third party support?

Fast forward to the present, it is impressive how neatly Nintendo has overcome those concerns. In aggressively courting indie developers, Nintendo has secured a rich pool of talent and fresh ideas to support the Switch. And because of it's portability, the promise of taking these sort of games anywhere with ease, adds tremendous appeal. But there's more.

Nintendo's success reminds us of one simple fact that has been consistently reaffirmed for nearly every generation of consoles. The most powerful console doesn't necessarily "win". If "winning" is determined by market share and sales, then it seems that Sony has taken the crown this time. And yes, until now, Sony did have the most powerful hardware. But it could easily be argued that the success of the PS4 was not necessarily due to it's power, but the fact that Microsoft had shot itself in the foot with the Xbox One's horrendous launch.

The Wii was easily the weakest of it's hardware cycle, but enjoyed phenomenal sales. The PS3, though being the most powerful console of that same cycle, fell behind the Xbox 360 in sales and market share. Even in the portables market, Nintendo has continued to enjoy great success with the DS platform. Even when challenged by Sony's more powerful PSP, then the Vita, and in a world of smart phones and tablets, Nintendo has still done very well.

 

The Little Portable That Could

 

With the success of the Switch, we are being soundly reminded that there's more to winning than power.

When people are having a blast playing a tiny little console with a max resolution of 1080p, how do you make the case that they need more than that? That's the problem with the Xbox One X, AND The PS4 Pro. But Microsoft's position is even more daunting, simply because there is no system selling, AAA must-have killer app that they can point to and say, "This is the game you NEED to play, and it's only on Xbox." That's a problem. And no matter how much they may want to spin it, I don't see many holiday shoppers foregoing the less expensive PS4, or the increasingly popular Switch.

The Switch may not be the platform of choice for people who love multi-player games like Destiny or Call of Duty, but there's a flip side to that. One, a lot of gamers seem to be getting tired of multi-player, AND are beginning to miss rich single-player experiences. Second, a game like Super Mario Oddysey is good enough to make a lot of people forget about any of that. That's the power of top-notch exclusive content. Microsoft should know this better than most. Master Chief and the Halo franchise practically made the Xbox brand what it is today. That success was solidified with exclusives like Gears of War and the Forza games. Yes, we got a new Gears of War last year, but do you know anyone who still cares?

The Xbox One is undoubtedly one sexy little beast. But if Microsoft is wise, they will have some exclusive content in the pipeline RIGHT NOW. And let me be clear, they need TRUE exclusives. Not a timed exclusive, because a lot of gamers would be willing to just wait that out until the game comes to their favorite console. The PS4 has established such a huge install base, I simply can't see Microsoft making even a dent in that without EXCLUSIVE software on a par with Nintendo's.