The Xbox One X has hit store shelves, and Microsoft is intensifying its efforts to make gamers aware of its premium console.
Xbox One X’s latest promotion has become a literal walk—or jog—in the park due to the augmented reality activation Drop Zone. Doritos and Mountain Dew have teamed up with Microsoft Xbox to host events at Randal’s Island in New York, Whittier Narrows in Los Angeles and Lincoln Park in Chicago to mark the launch of the new gaming system. The events are part of the larger “Xbox One X Every 60 Seconds,” campaign, which started in September and will continue until the first week of January.
The press was given a live preview of Drop Zone in New York’s Central Park this week as actor and comedian Joel McHale hosted the event by giving a play-by-play commentary with passers by looking on.
Larry Hryb, Microsoft’s director of Xbox programming, better known as Xbox Live’s Major Nelson, was also on-hand to engage with gamers before the event opened to the public.
“We worked with Doritos way back with the launch of the original Xbox, so this is a natural extension,” Hryb told AListDaily.
With “Every 60 Seconds,” redeeming codes found inside Doritos bags or bottles of Mountain Dew enter fans into a contest to win an Xbox One X every minute throughout each day. Each code also earns points that can be used as currency in ongoing auctions to pick up Xbox One X bundles or big ticket items such as the Forza Motorsports 7 console bundle paired with a trip to the Porsche Experience Center.
Drop Zone is designed for attendees to download an AR app that enters them into 30-minute competitions where players use their smartphones to track down and capture virtual Xbox One logo markers found within the real-world. Then they must protect it from being stolen from other players by moving around and using special power-ups. Players that successfully hang on to these markers by the time the clock runs out wins a free Xbox One X.
Dew and Doritos, both PepsiCo brands, similarly hosted the “Every Two Minutes” campaign for the launch of the original Xbox One in 2013. According to Hryb, awareness of the Drop Zone events is being spread primarily through word-of-mouth, particularly through the “Every 60 Seconds” contest itself and social media channels across all three brands.
Stare at you phone & win an #XboxOnex. Grab all the Doritos & a Dew & head to the #DropZone this wknd. They’re giving away thousands of the new Xbox One X!(I’m serious) https://t.co/5pG8ypgvW0 #ad pic.twitter.com/x8xpuV6Cbu
— Joel McHale (@joelmchale) November 9, 2017
Microsoft launched the Xbox One S one year ago, which supports 4K streaming entertainment, but not 4K gaming, at a lower cost. Hryb is confident that consumers, especially the gaming audience, will understand that the Xbox One X is a premium console while those who want a more economical system can pick up the Xbox One S. He said that the most important point for audiences to understand this holiday season is that all Xbox One games, which currently include over 1,300 titles, will work on any console in the Xbox One family—with many enhanced to take advantage of the Xbox One X’s capabilities.
The approach worked with the Xbox One S, which has been selling quite well despite releasing in the middle of the console generation’s traditional five-to-seven-year cycle.
“There’s a certain segment of gamers who want to have the latest and greatest all the time, but what we hear universally is that they love the fact that their games are going to work regardless of which Xbox One they buy,” said Hryb.
Hryb described the Xbox One X’s target audience as those that “love power,” and “want to play great games and have them look the best they can on a console.” But that description isn’t necessarily limited to hardcore gamers or even those who either already have or are planning to get 4K HDR TVs. The premium console’s graphics will look sharp on regular HDTVs, and the extra enhancements await gamers should they choose to upgrade.
To help people better understand the benefits of 4K HDR graphics, Microsoft released an app called Insects, which allows users to turn features on and off and compare them. Beyond that, Hryb reiterated that Microsoft is relying heavily on its extensive library of games to attract gamers of all types to the Xbox One X.
While hardcore players may be drawn to enhanced games such as Star Wars Battlefront II, Call of Duty: WWII, and Assassin’s Creed Origins, casual gamers can look to family-friendly titles like Disneyland Adventures and Pixar Rush.
Hryb has been in direct dialogue to gamers since 2003, and he is continually active on Twitter, YouTube and Xbox Live. He stated that the best way to engage is by having honest conversations with them.
“All they want to do is talk about games,” said Hryb. “They want great games and they want to talk to people about great games. [It’s about] being involved in that conversation and being honest.”
Having authentic conversations is especially important in the digital era, and Hryb stated that Microsoft wants to “go where the gamers are,” whether it’s on Reddit, Twitter or even a different gaming platform. He indicated that it was that kind of approach that prompted the launch of the Play Anywhere initiative last year, where buying select Xbox One titles also includes the Windows 10 PC version for free from the digital Microsoft Store.
Microsoft’s efforts to bridge its Xbox One and PC gaming communities may one day extend further, since the tech giant made moves to prominently enter the virtual, augmented and mixed reality verticals in October by acquiring the AltSpaceVR social platform and announcing multiple partnerships with hardware makers to develop inexpensive mixed reality headsets.
Interest in AR may have helped inspire Drop Zone, but the mixed reality initiative is currently limited to the Windows 10 platform.