Isn’t it so cute when mainstream news outlets run analysis on esoteric, geeky topics?
The New York Times thinks it has a handle on why gamers stay loyal to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 in spite of its atrocious failure rates. Since I know you get uncomfortable with all the big words that they tend to use in that particular periodical, allow me to summarize the article:
Halo 3. Halo 3. Halo 3. Halo 3. Halo 3. (P.S. Halo 3.)
But, of course, it goes deeper than that. And I think we can all learn something from Microsoft about what it takes for a product with remarkably-shoddy construction to succeed.
The Red Ring of Death. Finally! An excuse to deal with Microsoft’s customer service people!
5) Make sure that the next-best alternative to your product is even more painful to own.
Hm, let’s see, I’m in the market for a gaming platform with high-definition output, a online-gaming component, and plenty of violent shoot-’em-up games. I guess the Sony Playstation 3 is an option, but I’m not particularly interested in a grossly-overpriced hunk of machinery that lacks good content because game developers hate the platform more than I do.
Xbox 360, it is.
4) Hope and pray that other alternatives to your product stay scarce.
Picture a 30-foot tall battle mech (or, robot-o’-war, for you uninitiated…) brandishing canons, lasers, missiles, and a large Xbox 360 logo. Formidable.
Now imagine a cute, prancing puppy, with a “My name is Wii. If lost, please call Nintendo.” tag around its neck. Harmless, right? Puppies are so adorable and fun. But… wait. This puppy has rabies, is 100 feet tall, and uses giant robots as chew toys.
Thanks to another one of my razor-sharp metaphors, you now understand the relationship between the Wii and the Xbox 360. As soon as Nintendo is able to catch up to the market’s demand for giant, rabid puppies, Microsoft’s gaming division is going to be in a world of hurt.
3) String people along with promises of great new features and content.
Halo 3. Halo 3. Halo 3. Halo 3. Halo 3. Halo 3.
The Xbox 360 has had its fair share of other hits. As Will Ferrell as James Lipton of The Actor’s Studio might say: “If you haven’t played Gears of War and Dead Rising… you have not lived.”
2) Make repairs free and accessible, even if you have to extend the warranty… twice.
If I get a Ferrari for a pretty reasonable price, and subsequently I get to have fun driving fast and getting laid on a pretty regular basis, I don’t mind taking the car into the shop a couple of times a year for a two-week overhaul.
The Xbox 360 won’t ever, ever get you laid (even if you know a chick who scored high on the Geek Girlfriend Litmus Test), but you get the point.
1) Hemorrhage money like it’s going out of style.
Here’s the tricky part. First, start a business that allows you to have billions of dollars in cash just laying around.
Then, put millions and millions of those dollars into product development and marketing, and sell your shoddily-constructed new product at a loss.
Finally, admit that maybe all is not right with the reliability of your product, and set aside $1.1 billion of your somewhat-hard-earned money exclusively for repairing faulty units.
Congratulations, you’ve got a “successful” product on your hands!
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