Sony Will Beat Microsoft next-gen
I've been doing a lot of thinking about this and I have come to the conclusion that Sony will beat Microsoft. I will explain. Microsoft and Sony are the ones in direct competition. They are after the same fan base. They both take similar approaches. Both have similar gaming experiences. The difference is Microsoft has no clear path.
Sony continue to put out plenty of core first party exclusives. Microsoft however seem to think that instead of wanting a proper Banjo you want some horrible car hybrid platformer. The patches they fill are filled with mainly Halo, Forza and Fable. A side of Gears is added but these are the same sequels that consistently get pumped out. So instead of putting their resources to much needed new IPs (although they have 4 new IPs in the works now) they would rather put resources into Kinectimals, Kinect Sports, Kinect Joyride you get the idea. Its basically Kinect. So that has to raise a big question. How many of these four new IPs are for the core?
But that brings me to another big question, why are you suddenly doing new IPs now? Even Nintendo trademarked The Last Story towards the end of Wii's life cycle (trademark means they own it). It seems to me Microsoft throw stuff at the wall to see what sticks when they launch and then roll with what did for the rest of the generation. They write contracts on DLC for timed exclusivity and use third parties to fill the massive holes which they should be doing. This is where the key point comes in. Its these mistakes that will cost Microsoft next generation. These mistakes are what is showing Microsoft don't have the experience in the hardware market that Sony or Nintendo do.
This will be Microsoft's third big launch so they need to get it right. But the problems they have set for themselves going from this generation into the next will make it more difficult then people seem to realize. For one Sony will not be giving them the luxury of over pricing themselves or being late to the party so they can cruise it through. Call of Duty DLC cannot last you forever. The series will fall eventually as the shooter market collapses. Then Microsoft have admitted they are putting online charges into XBL again but this is a big mistake. The only thing XBL has over PSN in my view is cross game chat. You can almost guarantee PS4 will have that this time since Vita has it. Why bother paying subscription fees for the price of a whole game (I am in the UK so £40) when you can get it for free on Playstation? At least consider lowering the price.
But this is the biggest obstacle. Kinect. They are heavily focusing their resources towards motion controllers. Smart Glass being their latest example. The only reason this hasn't effected them now is because they have constant releases of multiplatform games. If those games vanished the core gamer would have jumped ship long ago. Having Kinect as your primary focus is going to hurt you. Nintendo have a fan base that like the innovation they put out. They make different games to the others and those types of schemes work for them and help them stand out. With Xbox it is setting up for fan base alienation. Microsoft seem to be focusing so much on trying to be the best of both worlds they are not noticing the rug is about to be pulled underneath them and make them fall.
If you are doing new IPs this is great but give me one reason to believe that in 2 - 3 years time it will still be a focus and you aren't just going to pump sequels of what was successful. Stop writing contracts for timed exclusives and put the money towards proper exclusives. Drop the online charges. But most importantly of all DROP KINECT! Forget it. It is the fastest selling consumer electronics device which is a great achievement but it is also paving the way for losing respect. I will repeat, the reason this works for Nintendo is because they make different games to you. They have game ideas planned around the controllers before they even launch. Actually they have worked on dual screen as far back as Gamecube. Something like Kinect just doesn't work for games like Halo, Forza or Fable (actually its debatable if it works for games as a whole) and its time to stop forcing it down people's throats and accept that.
As stated before Sony are not giving you the luxury you had last time. They will come hard and fast. Your games target the mature gamers but Kinect targets casuals. Your games have been built around realistic games. You cannot suddenly add something that works for Nintendo and expect it to work for you. If Microsoft make the mistake of making Kinect their primary focus the core gamers will run right under their feet and won't look back. Sony will continue focusing on the core and if they get it right then all your hard work in building the Xbox brand will have been for nothing. Third parties won't be there to carry your system in the 720's early life cycle like they are now so if you lose your fans it will be your own fault.
The image you crafted will make it virtually impossible to get both sides. You cannot get casuals without this type of thing and you cannot keep people who play your games by putting such heavy emphasis on Kinect. It shows that Microsoft is the least experienced of the three and unless they clear their path they will lose.
It is one or the other Microsoft. Make your choice.