Is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) trying to sabotage its own console? The announcement that the company is scrapping eight countries from the Xbox One launch date – along with its other Xbox missteps – might make you think it was.
First, it was digital rights management restrictions and requiring an always-on connection for the Xbox One that gave gamers fits. After back-pedaling on what everyone already knew were ridiculous ideas, the company now says it will release the Xbox One in 13 countries on the launch date -- instead of the 21 countries it previously said it would debut in.
Somewhere, a group of Sony executives is laughing.
Microsoft said in a blog post that it had to adjust the amount of countries that will receive the Xbox One in November "in order to meet demand." Whether that's completely true or not is hard to tell, but what we do know is that there are just 13 countries that will make the November launch date, including:
- United Kingdom
- United States
- New Zealand
As for the remaining countries from the original list, the company said it will get the Xbox One to them "as soon as possible" -- sometime in 2014. Those countries include Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland.
To make up for the change in launch countries, Microsoft is offering a pack-in game to customers that live in one of the scrapped launch countries (and have already pre-ordered the new console). The company isn't giving out details about what game it will be and said customers will have to contact the retailer they pre-ordered the console from closer to launch date. That sounds like fun.
Difficult times for Microsoft devices
The latest setback for Microsoft comes after the company just had a $900 million "inventory adjustment" for Surface RT tablets, as well as slashing the tablet's cost by $150. To help boost sluggish sales, the Surface Pro 64 GB just received a $100 price cut earlier this month as well. As if that weren't enough, Microsoft had to put together an early update for Windows 8 -- Windows 8.1 Preview -- to pacify users who didn't like the missing Start button from the OS. It's safe to say the past few months haven't been all that encouraging for Microsoft's new initiatives.
In the past, the Xbox has been one of Microsoft's shining lights, but with so many hiccups surrounding the product launch, I don't think the new console will enjoy the same status its predecessor did. That's unfortunate for a company that needs to capture consumers' attention right now – and positive attention, mind you. Lately, Microsoft has managed to create devices and software that have missed consumer expectations, and missing consumer expectations ultimately means investor expectations go unfulfilled as well.