The Xbox One is no longer being forcibly bundled with the Kinect, meaning that the base price for the Xbox will drop to a more realistic level. The catch: the move is coming about six months too late. Under its previous CEO Steve Ballmer, Microsoft decided to launch the new Xbox at a price point a hundred dollars higher than that of its primary competitor, the PlayStation 4, and tried to justify by including the Kinect system whether users wanted it or not. That predictably served to put a damper on Xbox One sales and hand the momentum in the console gaming market back to Sony. Now new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is trying to reverse the company’s sagging gaming fortunes – but shareholders are probably wishing he’d come on the job a year sooner.
The fumbling of Microsoft’s somewhat dominant position in the console gaming industry with the Xbox One pricing flub is perhaps one final indictment of Ballmer’s tenure. In his thirteen years on the job, the company saw its dominant products like Windows and Office fail to convert to the mobile market, instead fading with the PC itself into mainstream irrelevance. The one product which grew in popularity under Ballmer’s watch was the Xbox, at least partially due to the fact that Sony itself had been fumbling its PlayStation dominance for some time. But Ballmer’s final days on the job saw him overseeing an Xbox One launch in an overly greedy manner, with a price tag which wasn’t sustainable. Now Nadella gets to try to save Microsoft’s gaming position after the initial damage has already been one.
While Satya Nadella attempts to navigate the Xbox pricing dis-Kinect, he’s also tasked with salvaging Microsoft’s Surface and Lumia, its thus-far failed attempts at cracking the mobile mass market, all while continuing to try to walk back the damage done by the botched Windows 8. But while those markets may be hopeless at this point, Nadella just might have a shot at breathing life back into the Xbox One.