The Xbox One's September launch for India is still quite a way off, but Microsoft is set to announce India-specific details this month. It's the perfect time, then, to take a look at the challenge and the opportunities the lie ahead for the Xbox One in India.
Based on the performance of the Xbox 360, the current positioning and performance of the PS4, and the general state of the Indian console gaming market, here's what Microsoft needs to do at launch to give the Xbox One a legitimate chance of success.
Ensure availability of a strong first and third-party games line-up
Microsoft has the luxury of time. While Sony launched the PS4 within the worldwide launch window itself and with a limited games line-up, Microsoft can launch with almost a year's worth of Xbox One games. It's a given that first-party Xbox One games like Forza 5 and Ryse will be available on day one, but Microsoft must also work with local distributors to ensure that Xbox One versions of high-profile third-party games like Watch Dogs, Titanfall, Assassin's Creed 4, and Call of Duty: Ghosts, are available at launch; maybe even negotiate lower prices than their PS4 counterparts like they did in the early days on the Xbox 360, when PS3 games were often priced at least Rs 500 higher.
Make all Kinect features available to Indian users
Kinect voice support still isn't available to Indian users on Xbox 360, but with Microsoft stating how integral the new Kinect is to the Xbox One experience, it would be criminal not to have voice support on Xbox One at launch itself. With the Kinect bundled with every Xbox One console, and a Kinect-less SKU nowhere in sight, Indian users really should get the complete experience. While Microsoft hasn't come out and said it officially, localisation was likely one of the reasons for delaying the Xbox One's launch in Asia, so we really should have the console firing on all cylinders when it arrives in India.
Deliver localised Xbox Live content, support live TV
Another part of that localisation plan, of course, is content. An all-in-one entertainment system, as the Xbox One is touted, must launch with robust content offerings, both in terms of localised apps, music and video, as well as support for live TV, which Microsoft has been pushing heavily in the West. These aren't features that gamers will particularly look for, but they're there to attract a wider audience. To do that, the non-gaming services and content offered will need to ramp up significantly over what's currently offered on Xbox 360.
Go big on marketing
The Xbox brand entered India with a bang in 2006, with massive TV ad campaigns starring Yuvraj Singh and Akshay Kumar – a marketing spend rumoured to be around $15 million. That push didn't last long though, and just as it began to taper off, the PS3 entered the market, and by 2008, you could already see Sony starting to eat into Microsoft's share. PlayStation is currently the dominant brand, so, while Microsoft won't (and shouldn't) go all-out in marketing the Xbox One like they did the Xbox 360, they will need to flex substantial marketing muscle to expose the console to the casual audience, to lure those on the fence, and to give PS4 owners enough reason to want own both consoles. Considering the fact that it's Kinect that is currently doing the business for Xbox 360 in India, the family audience may be the one to go after first.
Get the price right
None of the above will matter if the Xbox One prices itself out of contention. The Xbox One is priced $100 more than the PS4 in the West, and with the PS4 already priced pretty high at Rs 40,000 in India, all signs point to a higher price than that for the Xbox One. Considering that the Xbox 360 is still priced quite high, it seems unlikely in the current scenario that the Xbox One will match the PS4's price, let alone being priced lower. So Microsoft will have to get aggressive on pricing, because even with a strong marketing campaign, a Rs 50,000 game console is a tough sell.
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