Case Detail

Case Summary

Xbox One

Case Number: 5-114-006, Year Published: 2014

HBS Number: KEL794

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Authors: Neal Roese; Evan Meagher

Key Concepts

Branding, Consumer Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Communications, Marketing Planning, Marketing Strategy, Motivation, Social Media


On April 4, 2013, a video game website reported that the next-generation Xbox console—due to be released by Microsoft the following month—would require an always-on Internet connection in order to operate. The new version of the SimCity game that had been released earlier that year with an always-on requirement had been a disaster. Hardcore gamers reacted negatively to the news.

When the Xbox One console was officially revealed on May 21, Microsoft effectively confirmed that it would require an always-on connection for validating digital rights. Predictably, gamers reacted negatively, a response that was exacerbated when Microsoft’s president of the interactive entertainment business, Don Mattrick, made dismissive statements about their concerns.

Confronted by online outrage from gamers and mockery from competitors, Mattrick had no choice but to re-examine the Xbox One’s product features, and more importantly, decide how Microsoft would communicate those features to its targeted consumer segments.

Learning Objectives

After reading and analyzing the case, students will be able to:

  • Address the challenge of marketing a product to multiple adjacent but very different customer segments
  • Understand the need for a unified vision before going to market
  • Develop a strategy that addresses the complexity of a world in which the company may no longer own the "loudest voice in the room"

Number of Pages: 11

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Marketing

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: United States

Industry: Video Gaming

Organization Name: Microsoft

Organization Size: Large

Decision Maker Position: President of Interactive Entertainment

Decision Maker Gender: Male

Year of Case: 2013