edit: this was in reply to your 15:09:36 post, BTW. (made a few other text tweaks as well)
Quite possibly. That won't affect my view/memory of XBLA and this gen (possibly my last as a gamer), but it should be a major concern for MS.
We're going a little off-topic here, but why not:
MS are gambling that they can win the battle for the living room and, given the amount of cash that they'll no doubt invest, perhaps anything less would be a failure.
I don't think this is a gradual move by MS, but rather the realisation of their original vision for what the xbox brand could become: the centre of the living room. They've admitted this since day 1, but the difference between the Next Xbox and the 360 is that MS were still struggling to gain a foothold when they launched the 360, whereas they now feel that they have a viable 'brand' given the 360s success, particularly in the US where it's now the dominant console and clear 'winner' of this gen. I think MS believe that they no longer need court the hardcore to have a successful console.
However, gazing into my crystal ball, I remain unconvinced that people need a new console for their 'entertainment hub', or that MS have the brand attraction/loyalty of the likes of Apple. I can see MS being left in the cold as their strategy will alienate the hardcore but struggle to win the casual market. I think they're overestimating the brand power of the Xbox, and underestimating the significance of getting core adopters on early. Their apparent indifference to the indi devs is symptomatic of this.
For that reason, I think Sony have played the PS4 well. They can see that indi games and downloads are going to be a significant side of the next gen landscape and are courting deals with devs whilst also making it easier to make and release content on their system. If Sony can get the games for launch, I can really see them winning back the core gamer support (which was split right down the middle in this last gen).
Will securing the core gamer support be enough for Sony? I'm not sure. Maybe not in the long run if they can't spread its appeal wider, but at least they'd have a solid base on which to grow. I think Sony are playing their cards as best they can.
My ball gazing (ooh-err) shall remain hazily uncertain until we've had MS's confirmation on their Next Xbox launch plans, of course. Perhaps MS will surprise us all and show a change of tact (I doubt it). Release dates/windows will play a part as well. If MS can get the Next Xbox out pre-xmas in Europe and the US then they may get a decent head start. Sony may come to rue gifting MS a head-start in Europe, especially if that's an open goal of an uncontested xmas sales period.
Then there's the big unknown of Steam. As much (hard earned and well deserved) goodwill as Valve have, appealing to the uneducated masses is an entirely different proposition to connecting with hardcore PC gamers. Really need some more details on this.
As always, time will tell. But I don't think Microsft's strategy is going to win them many fans or help shift consoles to early adopters.
Edited by evild_edd at 15:56:16 12-03-2013