Interview: Talking Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and next-generation gaming with Michael Pachter
It was just one week ago that the world was introduced to Microsoft's Xbox One. The unveil brought excitement, frustration and a significant amount of confusion, but it has officially ushered us into the next generation of gaming now that all of the "console war" participants are in line. Today, we are excited to be joined, once again, by Michael Pachter, Wedbush Securities' Managing Director who has been analyzing the gaming industry for years now. We're going to ask Michael several questions regarding the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and the industry itself, so without further rambling, here's our exclusive interview with Michael Pachter.
[GameZone]: What were your thoughts after watching Tuesday’s Xbox One event? Did you feel that Microsoft presented their console in the best way that they could, especially with E3 just weeks away?
[Michael Pachter]: I think Microsoft and Sony are each trying to offer a complete solution, with games and multimedia functionality. Sony led with games, Microsoft led with multimedia. We can evaluate how each presented after each has finished its presentation, which will be post-E3
[GZ]: Who did Microsoft believe they were marketing to with their Xbox Reveal? Rev3Games’ Adam Sessler noted that your average, “casual” consumer wasn’t tuning in on a weekday at 10 a.m. to watch the unveil, but in fact the “hardcore” individual. However, Microsoft seemed to be catering directly to the consumer that’s less interested in gaming and more in television and other media. Do believe they expected that a broad demographic was tuned in; so much so that they would go to such lengths to sell the Xbox One’s entertainment value, or are they in fact pushing for hardcore and casual parties alike to be “wowed” by what Xbox One can do from an entertainment perspective?
[Pachter]: Adam is a friend, very intelligent, but wrong on this one. Your average casual consumer doesn’t watch press conferences at all, and instead relies on the mainstream press for information. The mainstream press was at the event in force, and uniformly impressed; only the gaming press was underwhelmed. I don’t think that Microsoft is so naive as to think a broad demographic was tuned in, but they were sophisticated enough to know that they would be featured in the New York Times, on Bloomberg and CNBC, and on NPR and NBC, all of whom would say positive things. They’ll show games to the hardcore at E3.
[GZ]: A major announcement that was probably the least covered was the “new relationship” between EA and Microsoft. Do you anticipate that this new deal will bring major franchises and/or new IPs exclusively to Xbox One, or can gamers expect a less-than-impressive partnership that provides exclusive modes like that of FIFA 14 and its Ultimate Team mode? In layman’s terms, is this new relationship significant for Microsoft and their consumers?
[Pachter]: I am certain that there is an EA exclusive for Xbox; I don’t know what it is, but it’s likely a new IP. That could be from anyone, but the Respawn IP makes the most sense. The exclusive sports modes are a smart thing for both companies, costing little to provide and generating a lot of enthusiasm. Anything that is exclusive for any console is significant, as it makes that particular console more desirable. We’ll hear more from Sony and Nintendo later this year.
[GZ]: There was major confusion throughout the event regarding always-on, always-online and used games. Regarding always-online, do you believe Microsoft will in fact make that bold jump and require a constant Internet connection, and if so, how do they respond to the reality that there are those throughout the United States –throughout the world – without high-speed, robust Internet?
[Pachter]: I don’t think they will require always on or always online, but rather “always connected,” with a periodic online connection required (likely once a day, but we’ll see what they come up with). They have to validate that the same game isn’t copied onto several consoles in order to support used game sales and preclude piracy, and I’m sure people won’t complain if we can set the box to connect at 4 a.m. every day when we’re asleep. I am not sure how they are going to handle the broadband issue, as it is an impediment for a lot of people, and hurts some of the most faithful gamers who are in the military and stuck on aircraft carriers or in Afghanistan without a persistent Internet connection. I think Microsoft has a solution, but I don’t know what that is.