The Xbox One has been behind Sony’s console ever since launch, and it looks like whatever Microsoft does, it can not close the gap. And it’s not like they didn’t try at all, but unfortunately, lowering the price by ditching the Kinect or even implementing an online subscription system to rival the Playstation Plus didn’t have a strong enough impact. But now, there are some third party actions that may twist the situation in Xbox’s favour, though they were never meant to do this.
DDOS attacks on PSN
The past few months were full of illegal activity, and while Xbox Live was targeted as well, it seems like the PSN was much more affected by these actions. The hit had a major impact this Christmas, PSN users not being able connect their consoles to the network. Imagine all the happy gamers who received a PS4 as a gift and not being able to enjoy the full experience. Xbox users had the same issues, but it was resolved much more quickly.
And even though Sony extended all the PS+ subscriptions in order to make up for those lost days, it didn’t help much, as the problems returned several days ago, when an awful lot of people reported network issues. This could, and probably did, help people decide more easily on buying their future consoles and made the Xbox One appear a little bit more reliable.
If these attacks and server issues continue to be active on such a regular basis, by the end of the year the Playstation 4 may not have such a big lead over the Xbox One anymore. Or worse, it might anger (and it kind of already did) a lot of PS4 users and make them switch to the other side, clearing the path for the Xbox One to overtake.
Last week, the full version of the official Xbox One Development Kit was leaked by a group of hackers (even though they stated that they hate being called a hacker group) called H4LT. While, at first sight, this may look like a bad thing, it could have a positive impact on Xbox One sales.
Xbox One games and apps still require a development licence from Microsoft in order to put them on the console, but even so, the group asked people who are experienced in things like reverse-engineering of Windows files to look at the SDK for the sake of “research and creativity”. Microsoft said a number of times that it will open up licensing to allow interested developers to use the Xbox One as devkit hardware, but it has only been words in the wind so far. This leak may force their hand into the matter, or just make them drop it completely and focus on security issues.
This isn’t as bad as what the Lizard Squad did, but it may still let curious individuals look around and exploit it for other weaknesses. Which gets me back at the positive side of the story: it could have a huge impact on sales.
Microsoft may benefit from this whole situation, as people might buy their consoles in order to have their go at experimenting with the SDK. And while the SDK is just a small part in creating a valid environment that lets people install their apps on the Xbox One, history has taught us that the gaming community is perseverant, igenius and most capable of achieving almost anything. So, if they succeed in creating this ecosystem, Xbox One sales may go up even more, putting the PS4 in their rearview mirror.
Now, I admit that this is a long stretch and extremely speculative, but it’s a very plausible scenario. Putting your rival in a bad light while giving people access to your hardware capabilities, especially when this is indirectly provided by a third party, is a great opportunity for increasing sales. This, of course, if you will actually start improving the security of the system and pray that the same thing won’t happen to your rival, which will basically cancel the effect.