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Xbox Takes on Netflix: Why?

On April 8, 2014

I only have one question for Microsoft. Why?
I truly wonder what exactly has motivated the company to pursue this avenue. While the last generation of consoles solidified the necessity of multimedia features in modern gaming systems, providing original video content is unlikely to motivate people who would not have purchased a $500 console to join the bandwagon. Nintendo has been providing their 3DS handheld with original video shorts for years now, but does anyone even consider that feature when purchasing the system? No.
The decision to add this content simply does not make sense from a business perspective. Furthermore, customers are more than happy to enjoy video content from other services, such as Netflix, which are available on all major consoles.
Microsoft is trying to differentiate itself by providing users the ability to pull up extra info on characters while they view original programs.
Now some might say, "but Microsoft offers a unique experience by allowing users to 'interact' with shows, that's pretty cool right?" Wrong. If a person is watching video content on a gaming console, chances are they want to sit back and relax. If any such people wanted to actively engage with entertainment, they would play a video game.
Now Microsoft's not the only one fumbling here. Sony plans to launch an exclusive series for the Playstation 4, beginning with a series based on the Marvel Comic series "Powers."
Additionally, original shows exclusive to consoles must be superior to content available elsewhere or else it is basically useless. Netflix has had wild success with their original shows including "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black," but can the average person even name a single original series from either Hulu or Amazon? Unless original content is better than mainstream content elsewhere, there's no point to producing it.
Now, I see no problem with content designed specifically for Xbox fans. The aforementioned "Halo 4" miniseries and Steven Spielberg's upcoming "Halo" television project are prime examples of great ways to expand a valuable Microsoft IP and promote future video game sales. But competing in the already crowded general television-programming circuit? I'm not really sure what Microsoft was thinking on this one. 


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