It’s fair to say that the super-ultra-mega limited edition Black Panther Xbox One X is going to become an instant must-have for gaming collectors. Customised consoles aren’t anything new, but the Black Panther Edition not only looks stunning; it is also going to be incredibly rare, being limited to a mere 5 units (at this stage anyway). The only way you can get one is by entering this competition. Now, I’m not against Microsoft running a competition like this, but the way they do it highlights the big problem that Microsoft have when it comes to strategy: they do not care about the world outside North America.
When Microsoft made this announcement I imagine that many of you, like me, were incredibly excited about winning this piece of black gold. Then I imagine many of you also experienced the same crushing disappointment when you realised the competition was limited to entrants from the US and Canada only. Therein lies the problem with Microsoft strategy, a company that once embraced their fans around the world: Microsoft have packed up their bat and ball and gone home when it comes to promoting their stuff outside of North America. Rather than fight PlayStation (and, increasingly, Nintendo) mano a proverbial mano across the globe, Microsoft have decided to make a stand and stage the battle in the land of the free… and also the States.
I remember a time when places like our li’l ol’ New Zealand was a promotional wonderland for Microsoft, where they would leverage the timezone advantage to launch their consoles as soon as it was possible. It was great for us, and did fantastic things for Microsoft; by giving Kiwis bragging rights over the rest of the world, Microsoft looked like a company that was in it for more than the money. They looked like a company that wanted all gamers to feel relevant and loved. Fast forward to 2017 and the launch of the Xbox One X, and New Zealand gets a launch for the console that consisted solely of an online competition to win the console through Mighty Ape, a third party retailer. Compare that to the HUGE party in the US, and it’s clear that the country Microsoft once saw as a global launchpad has become an afterthought to a company that has all but given up the ghost for Oceania.
Which brings me back to the Black Panther console. This is a gorgeous piece of tech, that is no doubt getting interest all over the world. Yes, North America is propping up Xbox in a big way (there’s more people there, obviously), but there are plenty of adoring Xbox fans all over the globe, and a targeted competition of this magnitude is a slap in the face for the rest of us who consider ourselves fans of the brand.
I get it; each region has their own marketing people (for the record Xbox has no formal presence in New Zealand now outside of PR, with all strategy coming from Australia, and we quite like the local Xbox PR people) that come up with the giveaways, but this is far beyond giving away some Xbox games or Xbox Live Gold giveaways. This was a chance for Xbox to celebrate their legions of fans the world over, that they too can have a chance at getting their hands on something special. Instead we are left with the bitter sting of rejection and a sour taste in our mouths as, once again, Xbox shows that they just aren’t interested in fans without an orange president.