Asking a ‘what if’ question is of course just a form of speculation but, as far as we know, the Xbox 3 might not make it out this year, the possibility exists is what I’m saying. The thought first occurred to me after observing the silence Microsoft has cast around their next gen efforts after the PS4 reveal. I wondered if maybe they saw what Sony had to offer and changed their plans in an effort to ‘one-up’ them, leading to a delay that could push the Xbox 3 into 2014. I promptly dismissed it as nonsense as most would have done at the time. However, today I read an article that was sourced from an interview at CVG with Dan Amrich, who seemed to suggest “that the Xbox 720 may not be released in 2013”.
It brought back those worrying thoughts and I asked myself, what if the third Xbox doesn’t release this year?
Assuming Microsoft fail to make the 2013 deadline, what would be the repercussions or even rewards of such an event? Well, the most obvious thing that springs to mind is that they will miss the Christmas rush, as well as black Friday in the states. They also allow the competition ‘free time’ on the market. Although this would mean a slower start in terms of sales it wouldn’t be the end of the world. As Sony has proven with PS3 you can release a year late, after Christmas (in some regions) and as long as you have the hardware, games etc to back it up you could still sell just as many as the competition (if not more) and in less time. In the eyes of the sales counting fanboy war mongers it will appear as though the Xbox 3 would be last place though and they will use that in arguments, just as they have in this generation, ignoring any time-on-market difference completely.
So is there an upside to a 2014 launch? Well, it depends on if Microsoft could make a big enough difference to the hardware/features in order to make it stand out over the PS4 and if that difference can be achieved without additional cost to the consumer. Price is one of, if not THE most important factor where sales are concerned. If MS decide to up the price, in order to trump Sony in the hardware department, they will either have to bear the cost or pass it on to potential buyers, making Xbox 3 more expensive. The inclusion of a Kinect in every box already has some core gamers riled up as it’s something that most would be happier to live without for a cheaper up front price. I should note that this would apply to PS4 too should they decide to include the new PSeye in every box, although Move was more of a hit with core gamers than Kinect ever was (see sharpshooter).
In my humblest of opinions, given that we have very little information to go on, a delay into next year would be nothing short of disastrous for Xbox 3. Gamers are an infamously impatient lot and giving Sony and the PS4 even a small head start is something that the third Xbox might never recover from, with or without timed exclusive COD DLC.