Microsoft Is Committed To Delivering “Serious Fun”
You may have heard that Microsoft went through a little bit (read: massive) restructure yesterday, with a number of executives being shuffled around and given new jobs, while others just had a bad day at work. As part of this restructure, Xbox finally got a new boss to replace good old Mattrick, namely one Julie Larson-Green. She’s got a lot of experience behind her and some impressive accolades to show off, so I for one am excited about her appointment.
But what is a tad more exciting is the mention of gaming in Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s memo that was sent to all of the company’s employees, describing new goals and visions for some of the departments affected by the restructure. The memo is huge, but there are some parts that certainly stood out for those interested in the gaming side of Microsoft.
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We have a gaming and home entertainment platform second to none.
Well, bold yes, but it’s a CEO talking to his employees, what would you expect?
Most of the time, people use technology casually — listening to a quick song, finding a movie, catching up on the news on Flipboard, playing Angry Birds or checking in on Facebook. We will make sure our consumers can do the everyday well. But people also turn to technology for more important tasks in their lives — and we will focus our energies on creating new, memorable and even extraordinary experiences across our family of devices and services. Think of the student stuck on that term paper looking to display all his creativity in ways that will get him an A+; the family that’s getting together for a reunion and wants the delightful memories to last forever online; the gamer who is taking his fantasy team to the playoffs;
If you read that again slowly without stopping at the “casually” part, you might see that it also refers to consumers that use technology for more important tasks, and more rigorously. Gaming falls under that right?
Serious fun. This expression may sound like an oxymoron, yet it encapsulates an important point of differentiation for us. There are many things people do for light fun, for example play solitaire, spend three minutes on a word game or surf the TV. Although we will enable these activities effectively, our biggest opportunity is in creating the fun people feel most intensely, such as playing a game that lasts hours and takes real concentration, or immersing them in live events and entertainment (including sports, concerts, education and fitness) while allowing interactive participation. Interactivity takes engagement and makes things serious; it really requires differentiated hardware, apps and services. People want to participate at home and on the go, and in gatherings with others. We see a unique opportunity to make experiencing events with others more exciting with interactivity. We also see opportunity in fitness and health because, for many, this is serious fun much more than it is a task.
This here is what a lot of people have wanted to hear, ever since we first saw the Xbox One. Thousands have said Microsoft only care for the casual and media focused consumer (despite E3, I know), but this statement right here shows that the company has not forgotten about the hardcore crowd. Ballmer specifically states that they understand that many of the entertainment consumers are looking for long lasting and immersive gaming experiences, while offering seamless integration with media and social services. And when you think about it, that’s the kind of step forward you’d normally like to see, right?
Considering this was a broad and open memo, there obviously wasn’t an extreme focus on gaming in Ballmer’s memo. However the fact that the principle was mentioned several times shows that Microsoft still cares deeply about the Xbox brand and the consumers that are fans of it, and hopefully this restructure helps avoid some of the mistakes made in the past few months. It’s almost like a new era we can look forward, so we’re definitely going to be watch Microsoft closely over the coming months.
Surprise us, please.