Free Xbox Live weekend June 6, 2016- June 12, 2016
Microsoft is again offering free Xbox Live for a limited time, but they have stepped up their offering to get people excited. Users on both Xbox One and the older Xbox 360 can play online this weekend for free. To sweeten the promotion, Microsoft was able to offer more free games for users. However, there was a glitch with their system update which caused some other games to be priced as free, like Fallout 4 Digital Deluxe version. This was a mistake and was fixed, but thousands of users downloaded the game and were able to play it before Microsoft realized. The one game being heavily marketed during this weekend is Rocket League, offering a free trial for this weekend only.
This all begins to build consumer engagement with Xbox as attention shifts toward E3. Microsoft CMO Mike Nicholas said, “we’re excited to share more details on what Xbox fans can expect this year and beyond,” and going on to say it will be a “special E3.” This gives Xbox users throughout the world an expectation that something great will happen. We’ll see if free Xbox Live is what he is so “excited” about, but I wouldn’t count on it. The Xbox as a whole as not been particularly profitable segment for Microsoft, which leads one to believe this revenue stream would not be sacrificed for greater consumer engagement.
The timing of this event is somewhat obvious with summer here and school getting out. Whether you’re a middle school student who’s ready for summer, or a college graduate who just moved back into your parents house while you look for a job, this is the online event for you.
The objective is clear, Microsoft wants to get more people online and buying Xbox Live subscriptions. They offer 1 month trial versions for free when creating a Microsoft account, but this weekend the user doesn’t need to do anything extra to play online. If you have an account on Xbox One or Xbox 360, just turn it on and start playing online. Simply removing the barriers for the user to get online will hopefully turn out to be a successful tactic for Microsoft.
Xbox Live members were quick to post in forums, generating word-of-mouth communication online. Some see this optimistically, like one user said, “yay! more people to kill.” Microsoft’s free Xbox Live weekend has gained more attention due to people talking about it in chatrooms/forums. It has generated a significant amount of PR on gaming websites, most positive, some negative due to the accidental free release of a very popular game, Fallout 4.
Social media has played a critical role in distribution of this message to users. @Xbox tweeted, “June 9-12: Play with friends free on
#XboxOne & #Xbox360. Plus, try #RocketLeague [E] free: http://xbx.lv/1U3RQpb” to their 9.39 million followers. Microsoft’s SnapChat presence helped integrate the same message on a different platform. The last method for building awareness I will discuss is unique to Microsoft. They have the ability to advertise on the dashboard as well as send a message to all Xbox owners’ accounts notifying them of the free Xbox Live weekend.
Microsoft took advantage of their social media presence and their own platform, the xbox, to fully market their event. Utilizing free marketing platforms, Microsoft could get their message out. Engagement is sure to go up as a result of this campaign, but the real test will be to see how many users come back to Xbox Live after this weekend.
Let me know what you think!
Is this a test to see if Microsoft can handle the volume of users that free to play may attract? Will Microsoft begin to offer free Xbox Live while making money through add-ons? Is free/premium going to dominate all aspects of Xbox?