Cautious about the future of Xbox


In 2013 I watched the launch of the Xbox One. The launch event, in my mind, seemed to indicate a transformation of the Xbox from a games console to a home entertainment device with AI, ability to use a Kinnect to make Skype video calls, Microsoft entertainment content, multiple catchup TV apps, and more. It also let you play games.

The games part seemed to be an add-on. In addition, the games would be orientated towards an always connected internet world of digital games. This latter bit was a little annoying. In my town, along with many in the UK, games trade in is a thing. You could pick up a second had disc for a few pounds and try something out. You could also trade in expensive games once you were done. Lots of low income families would use this to keep their kids happy too. So this seemed a negative turn of events. Also digital games cost more. You could buy a game from Amazon or your supermarket for 25% less than a digital download from Microsoft. How does that even make sense? The cost of discs, packaging and store space or posting a package is cheaper than a digital download.

Had Microsoft gone off their heads?

I did buy the Day One console. I paid a premium for the Kinect. Microsoft had made it very clear there was no way back. No backward compatibility was going to be offered. Hundreds of pounds were spent. The old Xbox 360 games were traded in or given away. I was now fully Xbox One enabled. 

Then the promised new entertainment services didn’t seem to arrive. I remembered that Microsoft had a launch segment with Steven Spielberg promising some content. There were US sports which were little use in Britain but I could live with the “US Only” mentality of Microsoft – it was normal. There were some rumour of a standalone TV box for MS entertainment services. 

What has happened?

The launch of a home entertainment centre was so good it gamers headed to the Playstation 4. Microsoft then “relaunched” the Xbox One as an actual games console. The home entertainment hub was gently dropped when Google released a £30 Chromecast and Amazon produced the Fire Stick. Kinect proved to be an expensive door wedge. Suddenly Microsoft announced Xbox 360 compatibility was coming. Unfortunately, I believed them when they said they won’t do that so I didn’t have any of my old favourites left. However, I could buy the digital remasters for more money than I spent on the originals. 

In a sense my Xbox One was the promise of an integrated Microsoft ecosystem of services. Movies, TV, gaming, video calling, original content, integration with my WindowsPhone and PC.

I do get that Microsoft find games a good a business. I like gaming. However, the Xbox One 2013 vision has hardly been realised so I am cautious about the Xcloud and other “X” properties. Microsoft have perhaps fooled me too many times with my consumer cash. 

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