Microsoft’s vision of the Gaming Experience

The comments on youtube really say it all.

I see what they’re trying to do, really.  They’re trying to make gaming something that is accessible to literally everyone who uses the windows operating system.  Notice the demographic they’re hitting in that video: Everyone.  It’s a female avatar with references to Facebook, Bejewled and Battlefield.  Connecting everyone playing games on Windows is much like the system that STEAM currently uses — and I like STEAM.  I like being able to right click my friend and jump right into his game.  I like being able to communicate with people very quickly regardless of what I’m doing.  I like that my games are all linked together.  However, STEAM is a tool for the core gamer and not for my Mom.  This is the right idea done wrong.


  • As much as I agree with you Keen, I fear the “core gamer” is going to become a fringe market in the coming years. There is a ton more profit margin in social gaming than there is in classic AAA titles.

    Once someone can get a social gaming system that works like Steam does to take off, thats where all the development is going to go. Maybe I’m just too jaded to see differently, but I don’t think the future of “our” gaming is very bright.

  • I hate GFWL… but I see nothing wrong with the commercial, it’s cute, funny, and I was highly amused by it. If it was an optional thing to use GFWL properly to do all that stuff it’d be fantastic.

    Unfortunately they need to make GFWL not be a piece of shit, and not be a “core” part of games, and simply an easy to use tool for playing your games like Steam for it to work. Not being able to save without being logged into GFWL… GFWL HAS ENCOUNTERED AN ERROR AND COULD NOT LOGIN.

  • Yes I know it says ‘live” but this seems to be an expansion/merging of their MSN live + GFWL service.

  • I wonder if we core gamers aren’t already a fringe market. I’ve yet to see convincing stats on either side, but I’ve been wondering how console sales compare to “pimped out rigs”. Not just per dollar. Per unit.

    Nintendo made a similar move with Wii, marketing to middle aged women. Facebook openning its doors to non-college-goers. Farmville’s ridiculously sized player-base. If we’re not yet the minority of game players, how much longer before we are?

    Probably won’t be too bad. A fringe market is still a market. Right?

  • Awful. Way to go with stereotypical girl gamers Microsoft. Give me guns, not dresses!

  • It’s just part of the process that all new media go through. Happened to the novel, cinema, radio, television… happens to all genres within a medium, as it happened to science fiction, jazz, the Western…

    If a form gains any traction at all it moves towards the mainstream. The mainstream is, by definition, non-specialist. Specialists then see the form as compromised and react by retrenching into their specialisation, where a separate market then coalesces around them.

    The kind of gaming we are familiar and comfortable with isn’t going to go away. It probably isn’t even going to shrink or diminish. It will just be surrounded by a much larger halo of less-specialised, mass-market derivatives.

    I think of it like film. There have been “art” cinemas in all the towns I’ve lived in since the 1960s and most of the films I’ve seen I’ve seen in them. Over the decades, the popularity of cinemagoing has waxed and waned. Mainstream cinemas went through a wave of closures and consolidations in the 1970s and ’80s, then boomed in the ’90s.

    This didn’t make a lot of difference to the independent cinemas. Filmmakers went on making the films for them to show and the independent cinemas went on showing them. As specialists catering to a specialist audience they were pretty much immune to the changes in the mainstream, even though they were nominally a subsector of it.

    We’ll still get our games. We just may get them from different producers and through different distribution sources.

  • Well said Bhagpuss. For my own part I can’t even bring myself to watch the clip because the cutesy avatar picking dresses off a rack is about as far from my personal experience of gaming as it gets.
    I started building my trenches when the Consoles, especially the hateful Wii, appeared and started to dominate the mainstream’s perception of what video gaming was.

    I’m still here playing my PC only games and thankfully not all of them are “accessible” to people like my mother.
    If my Mum can play it, I probably won’t want to 😛

  • i don’t so much mind the idea of a steam-like system for mainstream gamers… but that video made me gag… the over-the-top corny-ness reminded me of a nickelodeon little kids show… it was terrible… i don’t think the Wii’s advertising was ever this bad.

  • It is stereotypical and sexist in many ways. When I go to the annual neighbor’s daughter’s birthday party she talks about how she loves the latest FPS game. And she has been playing them since she was 8 or so.

    But a simple solution would be to just have this as visual overlay option for any player to choose from am myriad of overlays.

    Also, there is nothing wrong with games communication being accessible to “everyone”. I doubt this would appeal to most adult moms since most adult mothers do not want to be thought of as children as that little girl avatar clearly is. Just as adult fathers do not want to be considered little boys.

    I have no issue with the connecting to social networks so long as you have options to turn them off. I do not believe for a moment social networking is a fad.

    What I do believe and this video is more evidence of attempts from various “movers and shakers” at corralling the internet user base to a few access options to go through their “toll booths” constantly.

  • I don’t see what all the sexist and stereotypical complaints are about. Guess what, if you are a girl gamer you are a minority. You aren’t the target market of this advertising. If you are surfing a gaming blog you aren’t who this advertisement is targeted at. You need to understand that if you are not the target market you don’t need to like it, because again the marketing team doesn’t care about you. You are already a gamer; you will be much easier to take into their fold.

    Farmville is arguably the most popular online game. The avatars are very similar to the ones in this video. Look at all of Zynga’s games. The avatars are cartoony teenage characters. The avatars in this video make perfect sense. Microsoft is trying to draw in the Facebook gaming customers. I don’t know how many middle aged to elderly women you all know but most don’t like to be thought of as old. My mom, who is in her late 50’s and her sister who is in her 60’s both play Farmville and countless other Facebook games. They have avatars that look like this and not once have I heard them complain. Another thing that comes to my mind is the Twilight Series. My mom fell in love with it because while reading it she felt like she was a teenager again. It made her feel youthful.

    I hate GFWL with a passion. I think it is one of the worst designed services out there, but this advertising is very well done. Before everyone goes all judgmental you have to understand who they made this commercial for.

  • Keep in mind that trends from major companies don’t just change things for the target market.

    WoW didn’t just change MMO’s for the casual players who wanted more accessibility. They ended up redefining the genre for everyone.

    The push towards social media does not just affect those who want or like social media. If it turns out to make more money, guess what’s going to get made?

  • someone let their mom watch that video and then tell us what she says… i’m curious if this actually appeals to them… i personally think they’re going for a younger crowd… but i could be wrong.

  • I don’t see that any of us have much choice Keen.

    The world turns and times change. Gaming *will* become more and more mainstream.

    That said, I’m not overly concerned.

    The ‘Core’ market are the ones who drive the hardware, the innovation on the desktop.

    Intel / AMD / Nvidia. These guys get almost no advantage from the social network market.

    I know the social network crowd. They aren’t the type to be upgrading their rig every 6 months with new hardware.

    Personally, I like that gaming is becoming more wide spread. Why should it be a niche market?

    If anything, I think it’ll path the way for more interesting and varied games.

  • Using WoW as an example, it changed the trend for everyone to the point of eliminating almost all variance. You don’t see games like UO anymore. Why? It’s not because they’re bad ideas — they’re GREAT ideas. It’s because they won’t earn the money that WoW does because they won’t reach the audience WoW does.

    Same thing happened with Call of Duty and Battlefield. Heck, even these two games being the big two are converging to the same path. Where’s Tribes? Where’s the old Battlefield model? Where’s C&C Renegade? Gone. Why? There’s a more profitable solution.

    I’d be all for expansion and mainstreaming if it didn’t mean moving in that direction entirely. If I could have a diverse selection then this would never be an issue. It’s an issue because moving in one direction has just about always meant abandoning everything else.

  • These things move in cycles.

    Sure, we’ll go for a period where everything looks the same. Look at action movies in the 80’s, or the current state of Sci-Fi.

    Eventually, even the mainstream gets tired of the “same old”. Eventually, you stumble across something new. Look at the rampant success of Minecraft.

    I was born on the edge of the gaming revolution (1978). I grew up playing a huge variety of games on a number of platforms.

    Then, slowly, that variety started to fade as the major genres came into their own (RTS, FPS, RPG etc).

    Turn the clock forward and we’re starting to see a resurgence of smaller, indie games with far greater variety.

    I’m not disagreeing with you Keen. Some things will be lost. Progress always leads to us giving up something in the process. Sometimes we fail to notice, because we’re not close to it. Other times, it’s harder to let go.

    I was a huge space combat sim junkie (FreeSpace 2 anyone?), who watched as the entire genres slowed and eventually died off. Sure it sucked, but life rolls on and you find new games and genres to enjoy.

    It’s not like there’s nothing on the horizon to look forward too. Diablo III will see a massive reboot of the “Isometric, dungeon crawler” while GuildWars2 is looking to be my next major jaunt into the MMO world.

  • Horrorshow has got it right, it’s not about serving gamers but controlling the access to their wallets.

    The video isn’t an advertisement! It’s to communicate Microsoft’s new vision for gaming on Windows (which is to copy Valve and Facebook). It signals that after years of neglecting PC gaming in favor of Xbox (can we say Xbox-only titles that weren’t released for PC?), Microsoft has realized it has ceded position to Valve and Facebook.

    The inclusion of Farmville shows that Microsoft views the social gaming platform offered by Facebook as something it needs to control. Changing the dress on the Avatar references The Sims and along with the purchase of the guns for the FPS, the potential for microtransactions. And the FPS itself references Valve’s popularity with the gamer crowd.

    Because the audience for this video are the suits, managers, and financial types, they misspelled “pwned” so these non-gamers wouldn’t be mystified by the lingo. The video is so Microsoft can tell Wall Street that it has a plan for dealing with Facebook.

    I’m not interested in Facebook or social games so I’m hardly an expert, but I think it’s likely that Facebook will be able to fend off the challenge from Microsoft over the social gaming platform.

    As for Valve, it should be clear to every gamer that Microsoft has a slim chance at denting Valve’s position. As Keen noted, the comments to the video illustrate just how out of touch with the gaming audience the WGX effort is.

    Of course Microsoft will burn though boatloads of money in the process of trying to displace Valve and Facebook, as we can see from the example of this ridiculously overproduced video.

    Xbox has only succeeded through enormous cash subsidies from other parts of the business. Microsoft can’t compete in markets where it can’t leverage the Windows monopoly. Zune, Kin, and Windows Phone have all been failures, demonstrating that Microsoft can’t compete in the consumer market as opposed to selling to OEMs and the enterprise market.

  • @2:22 – “Buying things enhances my gaming and entertainment experience”

    Yes big brother!

  • “Buying things enhances my gaming and entertainment experience”

    Not like it’s Microsoft who invented that… look at all the supposed “free to play” games which sell equipment and other stuff in cash shops. Even LOTRO devolved into that sad excuse of a subscription model.

  • Keen, your parallel with WoW is, I think, correct. This is why I’m worried about Rift – if it succeeds, then developers will see that a well-made WoW clone can be profitable and we will get NOTHING ELSE in the MMO genre for the next 5-10 years.

    As to the video – it made me facepalm IRL. They are advocating microtransactions not only to buy vanity items (the girl buying a dress for her avatar), but also to gain in-game advantage (the noob buying weapons). They didn’t even spell ‘pwned’ correctly. If this is the future of online gaming then I am worried indeed.

  • The intro tune at the very beginning made me remember the horror that is the Wii’s Menu… 😡

    Do. Not. Want.

    And btw, how is this being controlled by a Kinect system while they talk about PC gaming? I am Confused.

  • I think you’re looking at it from a gamer’s perspective, not a business perspective.

    They want you to have the ability to jump into a game from facebook… they don’t care if you do or not. It’s about having access to a service nobody else does.

  • Qpon has it right, marketing. They are looking for ubiquity in the marketplace where you can access any one using the Windows operating through various forms of social media, etc. This isn’t necessarily to fit a need or a want, but to place more emphasis on why you should be using the Windows platform.

    Or to allow that really annoying kid on FB an easier time to track you down and continue to annoy the piss out of you while you are just looking at your desktop.

    Sounds like fun!