Yes, it’ll be called Xbox Forever.
Why gamers think that Microsoft will launch the next Xbox later than 2012 is beyond me. It’s only common sense and normal business protocol. The Xbox 360 has done its best. Billions of dollars have been earned, tens of millions of fans have been added, Xbox Live is here to stay, now stronger than ever, and the exclusives have served Microsoft and their publishes well.
There’s just one problem, though: the Xbox 360 is getting old. Now, well past five years, the Xbox 360 has earned respect globally. Virtually all developers have tried their hands on the console, and many have made fortunes developing for it. Microsoft knows this, and they’re strategy shows that soon, the console will be left behind for its new sibling.
In 2012, the old box will celebrate its seventh birthday, which would make it the longest a console has remained in one generation before next gen systems were announced. Don’t be fooled, the advent of Kinect and Xbox 360 Slim were created only to add a little life into the fledgling system. Microsoft planned this well, too:
Kinect will outlast the 360 and be compatible with the next console, and the Slim will still be selling units, by then, selling for dirt cheap.
I Could hear the conversation between Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer as if they were in my living room drinking wine.
In the office, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer sat comfortably, each sipping wine served by a special waitress. “So, we’ve accomplished what we set out to do in 2005, Ballmer,” Gates sounded as a man beaming with confidence, “I see no reason why we can’t do it all over again – only this time, we’re better positioned, which, naturally, should make our jobs much easier.” Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer knew exactly what the co-founder, and now Chairman of his company was getting at. Indeed, we’ve done pretty well, he thought. It was late 2009, and the Xbox 360 still held a decent lead over the PS3. “Of course!” he said vibrantly, as if to show his boss that he’s even more confident.
“The PS3, however, has seen extraordinary growth, boss, and we’d be fools to think Sony would allow us to release our next Xbox before the PS4.” Gates was confused, “what are you getting at?” He asked curiously. Ballmer knew that they’d made many mistakes with the Xbox 360, the most recognizable was the defect that almost killed the console dubbed Red Ring Of Death (RROD). “Well, for one, we must make sure that the hardware is indestructible. And that message must be relayed through a vigorous advertising campaign.”
“And so it will Ballmer,” said Gates, “so it will.”
Suddenly a burst of excitment flooded Gates’ mind like strong alcohol stinging the human veins. “Here’s what will do: we need to pay a developer to build a brand new IP for the new console. Let’s do something in the lines of Uncharted for the PS3. Get the new 343 Industries up to speed with the console’s specs so they could start developing a new Halo title to release day and date with it,” Gates was on a roll now.
“Even if Sony’s foolish enough to release the PS4 later than 2012, let’s make sure the new Xbox is so powerful that their old quote “only on the PS3″ will be banished.” I hate that line, Gates thought.
“Mid 2011, we’ll unleash the hype train,” Ballmer took over. “It’ll be nothing like the world has ever seen before! It’ll be the biggest, most extravagant display of our power.” Intimidate the competition. “By then, Kinect will be upgraded and will be doing the impossible. It’ll make Sony’s MOVE look like it came from the stone age. And once again, we’ll dominate.”
Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer were on their fifth glass of wine, yet the men remained sober. The excitement couldn’t be stalled, disturbed or aborted by nothing, not even alcohol.
“Hello, Kotick’s private line, can I help?” The secretary recognized the name that came up on the caller ID immediately, still, flabbergasted, she managed to sound professional. “Is Mr. Kotick available?” the voice asked. “Sure, yes, he is. Is this Bill Gates?” she couldn’t resist, “Yes indeed,” the man on the other line said with a smile on his face. Obviously, power had afforded him many things, one of the luxuries, getting hold of whoever he wanted to, no matter how busy they were. “Okay Mr. Gates, I’ll get him right away.”
The two men had a quick conversation, and to make a long story short, the next Call of Duty Title would be released three months after the launch of the new system, receiving special edition consoles and all.
Everything’s in place, Gates thought, all but one.
One of the most important aspects of launching a new product is its name. Gates knew this all too well. The Zune flopped because its name never stuck. BING, Microsoft search engine, a combined effort with Yahoo wasn’t having much of an impact on Google because, well, the name didn’t stick. Likewise, Microsoft’s motion control device was changed from Project Natal to Kinect because, to them, the latter sounded much more like something that would easily become ubiquitous with the masses.
“There’s one more thing, sir,” Ballmer said, “it’s name” Gates shot back reading his colleagues mind. “I know exactly what we’ll name the new Xbox.” The room was quite for a moment. Then, with poise, Bill Gates uttered his last few words of the meeting that had went on far too long.
“Because it will be the last home console we manufacture, because there will be no need for another, we’ll call it Xbox Forever.” Ballmer was stunned. Bill Gates getting a name right? Impossible! “I love it!” He shouted.
The CEO then contacted Greenberg and told him the news, the rest was history.