I’m actually going to go with none of the above - L’Oréal’s new Xbox Live App, called The Next Level, strikes me as another “s” word – surreal.
It’s true, something called “The Next Level” seems to suggest that the app is somehow targeting gamers, but I think that would be misreading the situation. It strikes me more as a tongue-in-cheek play off the fact that something so wholly unrelated to gaming is appearing on a video game console, and that’s why this whole thing seems so surreal. I remember when the Xbox 360 first came out, and the only thing we were talking about in respect to the console was games. It’s stunning how much this console has evolved since it first hit the market.
Now, we have The Next Level, made for the Xbox 360, yet unrelated to gaming in any way. That shouldn’t make any sense, the Xbox 360 being a video game console and all. But, it does make sense, because for a while now, Microsoft’s goal has been to get people to stop thinking of the Xbox 360 as a video game console, and I think they’ve had a great deal of success in that respect. With so much Web and app integration, a lot more people are using the console as a multimedia hub, and that includes people who couldn’t care less about traditional console video games.
Gamers and non-gamers alike will probably be interested in this app, which is essentially the evolution of the beauty magazine. The Next Level will feature beauty products, tips, and tricks from fashion and beauty experts, along with a forum for discussion among users. There will be video tutorials and curated fashion looks for different times of the year, too, and users can earn rewards points for interacting with the app. It’s basically a hub for the fashion and beauty conscious to stay on top of trends and stay organized.
It’s still a little iffy as to whether or not this is smart, because it’s hard to say just how far along the Xbox 360 is in shedding its image as a game console. L’Oréal clearly wants to attract both gamers and non-gamers alike, and that might be possible, as the Xbox 360 has become something that the whole family can interact with, regardless of personal interests. Of course, that’s ignoring the elephant in the room – the fact that the word “gamer” itself has all but entirely lost its meaning. The word “gamer” used to be important back when video gaming was a niche activity. That’s not the case anymore. “Gamer” is no more descriptive of a term than “movie-goer” is in 2012 – when nearly everyone is a “gamer” in some capacity, whether it be with consoles or with apps, the word loses its exclusivity, and its meaning.
So, maybe it’s better to say L’Oréal isn’t targeting girl gamers at all. It’s just targeting women interested in fashion and beauty that happen to have access to an Xbox 360. I wouldn’t expect L’Oréal, a fashion and beauty company, to do anything different.