Is Xbox’s future on TV? (Picture: Microsoft)
Firstly, I have never managed to have an Xbox for more than a few months, usually to play fodder that I was desperate to play at the end of a generation, when one could be picked up cheap. I always am lucky enough to have a Sony and Nintendo console, and I think the Switch has been the best console I’ve ever owned.
I have spent some time pondering what Microsoft may be doing. I have no idea why, but I was wondering what I would do in their position. Biggest publisher in the West, but with a console which sells well to a market of 330 million (the US), but less successfully globally. I think the answer is perhaps quite straightforward. As much as we believe we will need a box under the TV, that audience is likely to be finite in Japan, North America, and most of Europe. In perhaps 10 years it may well be digital platforms with cloud-based streaming. A handheld may survive, but it is difficult to predict accurately the future.
Microsoft may well now be looking at the landscape and pondering a change of direction entirely. Whilst Amazon have bought MGM and have their own shows too, Netflix is the legacy brand. Microsoft appear, at this point, to have little in the way of movie and TV streaming space, certainly globally. Microsoft have historically had some ownership and involvement with ViacomCBS, which own Nickelodeon and Paramount, and it is likely that it would probably result in a merger between Warner Bros. and Paramount Global.
Warner Bros. are known to be concerned about global streaming and whilst HBO Max is successful in the USA, it isn’t rolled out in places such as the UK due to deals with Sky. Microsoft could feasibly roll in, look to purchase large shares of Paramount and Warner and create a games and movie streaming service which may well be a good foundation for a future Netflix rival.
They have the cash to produce content, which it has to be said Apple have done extremely well and that Netflix have shown an ability to resolve too, to make those platforms must-haves. Disney+ aren’t going to amalgamate, one wouldn’t have thought, but you can see a space where Microsoft (perhaps under the Xbox Entertainment label), Apple, Disney+, and Netflix have the dominant streaming services and Microsoft without a doubt would have a huge advantage in terms of gaming.
Given the nature of a streaming service, they could make their service available on other consoles (and at an early stage perhaps allow downloading) and no doubt have a shop to purchase if you are not a subscriber.
This, of course, does not preclude them making a box for under the telly, nor indeed looking at the more powerful boxes that others produce and using them. They can still sell peripherals and whilst the streaming model is questionable in terms of actual benefits for the owner, and certainly the artist/producer, it would seem, for the biggest publisher in the West, a direction they could go in.
Lastly, movies are so expensive to make now, often more than one studio will fund the budget to help reduce the individual risk – if you only have two or three massive players though this does become more difficult.
I hate it, but I think it may well be a reality in the near future. There is constant chatter about the divergence and shattering of television and what you can and can’t see, but as with the 80s and 90s, you can imagine the massive players starting to mop everything up. I haven’t mentioned Nintendo, because you can see them being more a House of Mario and having a dedicated streaming platform and their own device!
By reader team_catcave
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