Xbox One MIA in coming console war
WHEN Sony launches the PlayStation 4 (PS4) here on Dec 19 for $639, I will be one of the first in line to pick up the new game console.
Buying Microsoft's upcoming Xbox One console is not even under consideration, not because the console is inferior in any way or that the PS4 is superior.
It is because I cannot buy the Xbox One here. Microsoft has delayed the launch of the Xbox One in Singapore to late next year.
Arguments over the individual merits of each console are already raging online.
There is the apparent performance boost the PS4 has over the Xbox One, which explains why games such as Call Of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 can run at a higher resolution (1,080p and 900p respectively) on the PS4 and at only a low 720p on the Xbox One.
Personally, the lack of full high-definition on the Xbox One is not a deal-breaker, as good gameplay beats good graphics in my book.
Then there is the price issue. In the United States, the PS4 costs US$399 (S$498), compared with US$499 for the Xbox One, never mind that the Xbox One comes bundled with an additional Kinect motion-controller camera. A camera accessory for the PS4 will set you back an extra S$87.90.
Both new consoles will not be able to play games made for their predecessors, so loyalty issues are moot. However, I feel that the Xbox One has a stronger line-up of exclusive games than the PS4.
Despite the fact that neither console has a clear edge, I am disappointed because it seems that Microsoft is not trying hard enough in Asia.
Why should we as loyal consumers support the console by spending more and importing it, together with the games, directly from the US?
We should be able to support our local retailers and subsidiaries and not have to rely on niche shops which deal in parallel imports. Though we may pay a little more by buying through official channels, the idea is that supporting a local business, retailer or distributor would give them better leverage, thus ensuring that we are able to get our hands on the newest products.
All this while, I had thought the Xbox 360 was doing well enough here for Microsoft to consider Singapore a viable market. For example, when the original Kinect was launched here two years ago, the camera accessory flew off the shelves. Demand remains so strong that I had trouble finding one for a friend earlier this year.
The Xbox can be considered to be Microsoft's most visible product - in stores, in the media and in homes. Franchises such as Halo, Gears Of Wars, Forza, Dance Central and Fable have become icons within the gaming community, so the company is effectively killing its fanbase here.
Consumers are already thinking beyond Microsoft when it comes to computer software, be it an operating system or a word-processing program.
Unless you really need Microsoft Office 2013, there are enough third-party options for your new machine. Windows Phone and Surface tablets are still gasping for air in a sea of superior rival products.
And does anyone automatically think "Microsoft" when it comes to buying mice or keyboards?
To a whole generation of gamers here, Microsoft really means Xbox.
But for the next year, their loyalty will be severely tested when their pals on PlayStation get to enjoy Killzone: Shadow Fall and Infamous: Second Son, and be the first to try out blockbuster titles such as Dragon Age: Inquisition and Star Wars: Battlefront on their new next-generation consoles.
Microsoft should really ask itself how quickly it can get its new consoles to its fans.