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The Xbox One is in a rut. It’s not a total failure, but Sony’s PlayStation 4 has outsold it two-to-one this console generation. Microsoft benefitted early on from Nintendo’s poor showing during the Wii U years (2012-2017), but Nintendo is back in a big way with the Switch. With Sony and Nintendo all but running victory laps, what can Microsoft do to get back in the game?
1) Sell more consoles
Microsoft needs to convince more people to buy an Xbox One. How many people already own one? That’s hard to tell because Microsoft stopped reporting the sales figures in 2014—a surefire sign that all is not well in Xbox land.
Sony recently reported it has sold just over 70 million PS4s. Analysts think PS4 has been selling twice as fast as Xbox One, so we can ballpark the Xbox One in the 35 million range. That’s not nothing–but it’s not 70 million either.
Nintendo got its groove back when it released the Nintendo Switch in March. The company recently announced it had passed 10 million sales after just nine months on the market. It’s selling almost exactly as fast as the PS4 is—which means it too is faring better than Xbox One.
To help spur sales, Microsoft released the powerful Xbox One X in November, and it seems to be selling well so far. But it’s expensive at $500 and geared toward people with pricy new televisions—which not many people have at the moment.
The Xbox One X may help bolster sales in the coming years, but Microsoft needs to give gamers more reasons to choose it over the competition.
2) Release more big exclusives
One of the best ways to convince people to buy any console is to stuff it full of awesome games you can’t play on other systems. Unfortunately, Xbox One is lagging behind here as well.
This year saw the release of exclusives like Halo Wars 2, Forza Motorsport 7, and Cuphead on Xbox One. It even got a window of console exclusivity for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a game that’s made an enormous splash on PC this year. But Sony and Nintendo both had more big exclusives this year, from Horizon: Zero Dawn and Uncharted: Lost Legacy to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey.
Microsoft has some promising titles lined up, like Crackdown 3 and Sea of Thieves. But compared to Sony’s jaw-dropping lineup of God of War, Spider-Man, Death Stranding, The Last of Us Part II, and Ghosts of Tsushima, Microsoft needs to up its exclusive game considerably.
3) Move on to Xbox One Part Two
Maybe the smartest thing Microsoft could do is throw in the towel on this generation and move on to the Xbox Two. Nintendo just underwent a similar transformation, reinvigorating fans with Switch after the lackluster Wii U. The Xbox One is a great piece of hardware, but it doesn’t have a chance of beating the PS4 or Switch. That might mean 2018 is the year for Xbox fans to prepare for whatever comes next.