Shadow Boxing – Microsoft is Wasting its Time Fighting Sony and Nintendo


Back in the mid-1990s, one of the biggest rivalries in rock music was between British bands Oasis and Blur. It was a perfect rivalry in the sense that they were diametrically opposed in a number of ways. Blur was made up of middle-class university graduates with trained musical backgrounds, while Oasis centered around working-class brothers with bad attitudes and an unhealthy Beatles fixation. Anyway, their rivalry played out in magazines, on awards shows, and in the charts and it all came to a head in 1995 when they both released new albums the same week. Long story short, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory by Oasis blew Blur’s The Great Escape out of the water. The latter band retreated for a couple of years while the former explode into the stratosphere (and soon after imploded into cocaine-fueled hubris). They emerged two years later with a self-titled album that had virtually none of the polish and…Britishness…they had made their name on. Hell, the album’s most famous song didn’t even have a proper title:

Blur was a bold statement in response to the rise of Oasis, not because it met their challenge but, because it conceded and moved on, its implicit message being, “Fine, you guys go be the biggest band in the world and fight that battle. We’re going over here and doing our own thing.” Not only did this move expand Blur’s appeal worldwide, but it freed them up artistically to experiment. In the end, they only ended up making one more proper album, 13, but it was one where they really stretched themselves creatively.

So, if you made it this far, you’re probably wondering to yourself what this could possibly have to do with video games. Well, I was reminded of this story when I saw the following Xbox One promotion being offered through the Microsoft Store:

Microsoft StoreThis promotion is an outstanding example of how Microsoft is hurting themselves through terrible messaging and lame promotions. I imagine executives of this company high-fiving each other when they came up with this idea; “We’ll give them a deal, but they need to throw their PS3 in the garbage. TAKE THAT, SONY!” I’ll admit, I had a chuckle when I first read it because it amused me the same way it amuses me watching people get into arguments on Twitter. Thinking about it though, the campaign ultimately fails for two reasons:


Reason One: It comes across as smarmy and dickish. Yes, we get that you are essentially referring to a PS3 as ‘garbage’ that needs to be recycled, and that this Alpha Dog aggression is an integral part of marketing and competition. The problem is that it only really works if you are aiming it at competition that’s bigger than you. Sega could get away with saying “Sega does what Nintendon’t” back in the 90s because they were, even at their biggest, nowhere close to usurping Nintendo’s hold on the video game industry. If Nintendo tried replying in kind to Sega, they likely would have been labelled as bullies.

Fight Club Punch

Reason Two: They’re picking a fight that nobody really wants. This goes back to my early analogy of the Blur/Oasis feud. Microsoft is pacing around trying to start a fight with Sony, Nintendo, and whomever else is in the vicinity as a way of trying to assert its dominance. The GameCube, a console I actually quite enjoyed, was pretty soundly beaten by the PS2 and XBox back in the fifth generation. When it happened, Nintendo learned a very important lesson; stop trying to compete on their level and just go do your own thing, all while letting the remaining two companies fight over the same piece of pie. Sony certainly engaged in its share of gauntlet-throwing over the past few years, but, with the PS4, have decided they’re going to ignore whatever Microsoft is doing and just follow their own path.

Walk Away

When somebody is acting like a jerk in public, sometimes the best way to respond is to not respond. Simply allow them to dig themselves deeper and look like an even greater fool while everybody else gets on with their lives. This is pretty much what seems to be happening with this Microsoft Store promotion, and it remains to be seen whether they keep trying to create conflict where there is none, or whether they let it go and focus instead on making their own customers happy.


  • Wrong.

    Who’s going bankrupt in a matter of years? Microsoft doesn’t have to do anything, Sony will take themselves out. They simply have too many SKUs in too many fields, once they’re out, Microsoft will buy up all of their assets, and take the console business until Nintendo builds their next machine (that won’t suck). Sony can try as hard as they want, the PS4 won’t make near enough to fill it’s own loss (until a lot of units are sold) and to fill the loss of every other product they make. Microsoft will win this generation by throwing money at it, we don’t want that, but it’s going to happen.

    Look at the business, if you can analyze that you’ll have a good idea of how things will roll. The PS4 can be as consumer friendly as you want, but it won’t save them. We don’t know what Microsoft will purchase in assets when they go bankrupt, but they’ll most likely take a hunk of the IP’s, and a lot of the studios. As a company Sony doesn’t have a moral compass, they don’t care if Microsoft buys them, they’ll just want to pad the blow of the bankruptcy.

    It’s going to be a really messed up generation, one I really don’t want Microsoft leading by miles like they will be, but I suppose it’ll be interesting to at least see events unfold. And in the end when they go out at least a lot of the devs will have jobs waiting for them at Microsoft, and Nintendo.

    • Mike Eaton

      Interesting points, to be sure. Another thing to consider is how the upcoming Steam Boxes (not to mention the Steam OS) cuts into the bottom line of the console market.

  • Dude

    Most pointless article ever. Sony has been directly jabbing at Microsoft publicly since the reveal of Xbox one. They are both as bad as each other.

  • karax

    This article does make sense.

    Anyone who disagrees is a hurt xbox fan, simple as.

    Its ok not to defend everything a company does you know guys. Its allowed. You should not defend everything, else they will do stupid stuff all the time, such as the drm situation. People didnt defend em and it stopped.

  • EddyNigma

    Good article. I agree completely. Nice use of that Fight Club gif lol and Blur was a better sounding band imo