Noah J Nelson on Tuesday, Feb. 25th
Video games have become a huge spectator sport, thanks in part to the live-streaming service Twitch.tv. Integration with Twitch was promised when Microsoft announced the Xbox One console, but it did not arrive when the machine launched alongside Sony’s Playstation 4. Sony did have Twitch up and running, and that advantage has been a big brownie point in the current console war.
Well, the Redmond giant seems to have finally have its act together: they will be launching a Twitch-developed Twitch.tv app just in time for what is being called the “killer app” for the Xbox One: the hotly anticipated Titanfall. With the Twitch launch the new console will catch up to the present, as defined in Microsofts own press release:
“Over the last two years, we have seen the broadcasting and spectating of video games go from a niche activity to a pastime shared by millions,” said Emmett Shear, CEO and Founder, Twitch. “As the experience grows in popularity, it’s important to provide as broad a feature set as possible for the community. Microsoft has done just that by rolling out the most robust console integration of Twitch to date and setting a new bar for others to strive for.”
The console maker is touting a “better” experience, with game broadcasting being just a voice command away. However one has to remember that many hardcore gamers are almost comically opposed to the Kinect device that powers voice commands. The almost religious fervor that gamers have over these issues means that message boards are about to be filled with all kinds of fresh flame fodder.
Will the Twitch/Titanfall combo be enough to blunt Sony’s lead in hardware sales? In my own social media sphere I’ve seen more than one fence-sitting gamer declare that they are reaching into their pocketbook to pick up an Xbox One when the game launches. That’s not scientific, mind you. Heck, even I’m feeling the itch.
A bit of cold water for Xbone fever: it was announced yesterday that former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop will be taking over the games and hardware division. That could signal that the Xbox division is fated to be spun off, as Elop was quoted on record that he’d sell off the games business if he had been made Microsoft’s CEO. That, or new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has a darkly ironic sense of humor.
Sony isn’t making any big countermoves, yet. With the hardware sales lead the Japanese game maker built up over the holiday season it may not have to.