Microsoft Makes a Play with Xbox One FIFA Bundle

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) is an American tech giant best known for creating the Windows operating system and ushering in the computer revolution. The company also produces video game hardware under the Xbox brand and is set to release its new Xbox One console this holiday season.

The Xbox One received a scathing reception upon its unveiling, prompting Microsoft to implement a number of changes to the product. Recent news and the extent of these changes suggest that Microsoft is scrambling to preserve its cut of the market.

With the assist
Hot on the heels of the announcement that the Xbox One would no longer require its Kinect camera to function and that every box would come with a headset, Microsoft has finalized a deal with Electronic Arts  (NASDAQ: EA  ) (NASDAQ: EA  ) (NASDAQ: EA  ) for an exclusive software pack-in. A download of EA's FIFA 14 will be offered as a pre-order incentive for Xbox One in European territories. Both the standard and bundled SKUs will retail for £429.99 in the UK and 499 euros in the rest of the continent.

The move was revealed at the Gamescom convention and comes after rumblings of low European pre-order numbers for Microsoft's system. In light of the terrible press that has surrounded the Xbox One, it must be viewed as a move of desperation for Microsoft. The company needed to improve its value proposition if it hoped to compete against the cheaper and, at this point, more popular PlayStation 4 from Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) (NYSE: SNE  ) (NYSE: SNE  ) . Early pre-order data from The Netherlands indicates that four times as many people are queuing up for Sony's system.

While Europe has traditionally been dominated by Sony's platforms, the United Kingdom chose the Xbox 360 by a significant margin. Taking a look at the 13 countries, down from the initial projection of 21, in which the Xbox One will launch, shows where Microsoft believes its most valuable markets to be. Eight of the launch countries are in the Eurozone, where soccer and the FIFA series are immensely popular. I take bundling of the game to be an indication that Microsoft has access to tracking numbers that are painting a grim picture for its soon to be released product.

Roster depth
The move to make FIFA most visible on the One makes sense from more than an Eurocentric perspective. EA and Microsoft have shown themselves to be cozy heading into what EA somewhat questionably refers to as "Gen 4." Electronic Arts is set to publish Titanfall, a Xbox exclusive title from Respawn Entertainment in the first quarter of 2014, and has indicated it will give focus to Xbox One versions of multi-platform titles. Titanfall is being positioned as the defining release for the early stage of the system's life. Its release might even coincide with the launch of a Kinect-less Xbox One if the initial SKUs are slow to sell.

EA also reportedly dropped its Online Pass system in anticipation of Microsoft implementing its own anti-used game and DRM policies. Both companies have, at times, shown an aggressive over-eagerness to dominate the digital space and propel the speed at which games are broadly conceived as a service.

I expect Microsoft to announce partnerships with a number of top-tier studios and high profile developers in the coming months. These types of efforts have undoubtedly been ramped up in light of Xbox One's initial stumblings. Microsoft is firmly invested in the industry and sees great revenue and potential from consoles as a delivery method for services like Xbox Live. That said, almost every decision it has made since revealing the One has been reactionary. The company is scrambling. 

Too early to call the first round?
Microsoft is much more financially stable than Sony. That is, without doubt, its greatest advantage heading into the coming cycle. It has the resources to see its system through a normal life cycle by securing the right games and improving its value proposition. We are likely to see the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One reach price parity much sooner than initially anticipated. Microsoft will take blows to its ego and sizable pocketbook before it lets the Xbox One bomb.

On the other hand, the company is seriously behind and its actions make it difficult to argue otherwise. Early pre-sale data, online retailer rankings, and rumors that Microsoft's system is experiencing eSRAM yield problemssuggest that Sony has already won the holiday season. Sony will produce more systems and ship them to a greater number of countries, and has, thus far, done an impeccable job of positioning the PlayStation 4. Even with more FIFA-esque deals in the pipeline, I expect Xbox One sales to trail its rival throughout EA's Gen 4.

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Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (1)

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  • Report this Comment On September 11, 2013, at 10:45 AM, Gamer1977 wrote:

    What about the US customers bundle? This is why Xbox One is going to do crappy sales in the States. I know we don't embrace soccer as much as the UK but, they could have bundled Need For Speed Rivals. Seems like all the other Countries get better deals and variants of consoles why we get standard. Good thinking on that one Microsoft. NOT!!!

  • Report this Comment On September 11, 2013, at 11:06 AM, ObitMan316 wrote:

    They are not getting a better deal. 499 euros does not equal $499. It's $661.87 in Europe, $676.36 in the UK. They are getting a "free" game for spending $160.00 more than the US.

  • Report this Comment On September 11, 2013, at 11:21 AM, GamersMark32 wrote:

    All I can say is: Good luck competing with Sony.

  • Report this Comment On September 11, 2013, at 12:24 PM, chrismireya wrote:

    @ Gamer1977: How do you know that they won't create a bundled deal for the U.S.? In fact, I can almost bet that they will! If they just announced this for Europe, I imagine that they will soon announce a bundle deal for the U.S. too.

  • Report this Comment On September 11, 2013, at 12:38 PM, Gamer1977 wrote:

    If they do come up with a bundle for the States they would have announced it considering it is almost that time. Microsoft has screwed themselves from the get go. E3 they pretty well said here you go, we have a console with next gen graphics but we want it to be more media based. They did the whole you can buy your game but we own it still and can tell you who can play it. The whole internet always on was a joke. To make it worse ship jumper Don Mattrick used a Navy mans story about how he couldnt play the new one due to no Internet. Everybody knows his response to that one. All that and then it took looking at how Sony was spanking their asses with presale orders they decided to change their minds and not the consumers complaints. To hell with that. I will just get a PS4 at launch and play a gamers console with better everything in terms of specs for $100 cheaper. I also assure you I was a fan of both older gen consoles. I own both but Microsoft screwed themselves on this one.

  • Report this Comment On September 11, 2013, at 2:11 PM, chrismireya wrote:

    @ Gamer1977: That is fine if you want to go with Sony. However, the reason for the $100 difference in cost is BECAUSE of the difference in "specs." While the PS4 may boast of a different set of technical specifications, it is incorrect to claim that they are "better." In fact, Microsoft hasn't even unveiled their full specs yet. They have a "secret chip" in the Xbox One that may, or may not, make a huge difference. Plus, they just boosted those previously revealed specs by about 10-15%.

    Most importantly: The Xbox One costs $100 more primarily because it comes with the Kinect 2.0 "smart device" with multi-dimensional HD cameras, HD voice support, pulse meters and motion detection. While some crazy conspiracy theorists tried to (ridiculously) claim that it was a "spy" for the government, this piece of technology doesn't come cheap. It isn't just a camera with a microphone.

    Is the Kinect 2.0 --- and everything tied to it -- worth the extra $100? That is up to the individual. Kinect 1.0 sold EXTREMELY well for the 360 even if it was somewhat underutilized. If Microsoft can develop some sort of software that isn't confined to Kinect Sports games, then this could be a big deal. It will already allow Xbox Live subscribers the opportunity to voice and video chat with Skype users (on phones, tablets, laptops, PCs and dedicated devices).

    The extra $100 for the Xbox One also includes access to quite a bit of apps, programs and original programming (such as Steven Spielberg's live-action HALO show).

    The "always on" rumors were misconstrued from the beginning. What it REALLY was included in the opportunity for Xbox One users to play games directly from the hard drive rather than the disks. This makes a game faster to load and avoids lengthy gaps between cutscenes.

    There are some great things to like about both the PS4 and the Xbox One. I suspect that many hardcore gamers may choose the PS4 over the Xbox One. However, there may be many who opt for the One given the diversity of options.

  • Report this Comment On September 11, 2013, at 4:01 PM, Elshinare wrote:

    So far I cannot say what I think of this. If they put a GOOD game for the bundle...Kind of tired of seeing bundles in the U.S. with games that are just poor performers, or they are old games that you can get from platinum hits...Eventually we might see a good bundle where the games are high demand/quality games...I mean we see Halo bundles usually when sales of Halo games go down, and they are USUALLY Microsoft studio offense but they tend to be poorly thought out games, sure they are fun, for one playthrough, but replay value is usually low.

  • Report this Comment On September 11, 2013, at 8:22 PM, deputyspade wrote:

    Chris, there is no secret chip. That was a rumore started by some guy named misterx on a personal blog of his. There is absolutely no proof of any hidden secret sauce that would make up the gap in power between the 2 systems. The PS4 has a much better GPU. Feel free to cite some sources that back up your claims of that hidden secret chip.

  • Report this Comment On September 11, 2013, at 9:46 PM, MikeJones77 wrote:

    woah another pro microsoft article.. that means there will be 5 more nintendoomed and sony sucks ones this week

  • Report this Comment On September 11, 2013, at 11:11 PM, deputyspade wrote:

    The author of this article is a little late on this news. It was announced about 2 weeks ago.

  • Report this Comment On September 12, 2013, at 6:41 AM, Kbarb365 wrote:

    This news is at least a week old.

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