One to watch: How Xbox picked up the pace against PS4 in 2014

Entering 2014 on the back foot, Xbox One fought passionately to pull itself back into the race against PS4.

Microsoft UK director of sales Anne Lepissier tells MCV how her team helped keep pace with Sony’s machine – and what comes next

Congratulations on winning the MCV Award for Sales Team.

Thank you very much. This award really means a lot to our team, as they worked extremely hard to deliver a standout year with our partners. This recognition goes to the sales team and our account V-teams; each and every one of them.

Towards the end of last year, you saw your market share expand. How will you continue this growth?

Our share growth is a result of hard work from teams across the Xbox business. Factors such as price competitiveness, offering choice (Xbox with and without Kinect), great content and exclusive games, an open conversation with fans about features they would like added to our monthly platform updates, a close partnership with retailers – these have all been critical to our share growth.

What trends and developments have impacted your sales approach from the last generation of consoles?

The rise of digital and the emergence of social marketing in consumers’ considerations have completely re-shaped the gaming market and impacted our sales approach to consumers and with retail partners. To optimise product availability and conversion, we have had to entirely re-map the consumer shopping journey to make sure we engage with them when, how and where they wish.

The Xbox One’s price was cut in April, which followed a similar price reduction last September. What effect have the cuts had on uptake of the console?

Offering our fans the choice of whether they want their Xbox with or without Kinect has enabled us to drive to even more competitive price points. This has been fundamental in reaching a broader audience with Xbox One to grow our community, as well as being able to attach more games and accessories within a limited shopper basket spend.

2014’s Black Friday period saw particular success for Xbox One, with 120,000 machines sold. How did you manage the demand?

We understood early in the planning process that nearly all UK partners wanted to play a major role for Black Friday. We were able to anticipate and work with each partner to offer the widest choice to the consumer – and we’re confident that we can help our partners achieve even better success this year.

A Kinect-less version of the Xbox One was launched last June. How has that SKU fared compared to the Kinect bundle?

It is fundamental for us that we offer the widest choice to our consumers: quality and breadth of deals, choice of when and where to shop and choice of SKUs, for different experiences and price points. Whilst the Kinect-less SKU has been extremely well received and driven the major part of our growth in peak, the Xbox One with Kinect remains a popular option for shoppers that want that all-in-one experience.

"The rise of digital and the emergence of social marketing have completely re-shaped the gaming market."

Anne Lepissier, Microsoft UK

Which titles do you expect to have a particularly beneficial effect on Xbox One hardware sales this year?

We’re confident that the launch of Halo 5: Guardians will be one of the key moments of this year for all fans of the Master Chief, alongside the other anticipated exclusive titles such as Forza Motorsport 6 and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Alongside the blockbusters, we have also a wide selection of brand new games, such as Ori & the Blind Forest, that are undoubtedly delighting new Xbox One owners.

What’s next for the Xbox sales team this year?

Our sales team will focus further on deepening our retail partnerships and growing a vibrant, diversified Xbox offer to UK shoppers. As we aim to be our partners’ best partner, for planning their business and anticipating new market trends where they need to win, we will focus on the market’s digital transition so we are geared for the retail transformations to come.

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