Cautious about the future of Xbox

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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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10 responses to “Cautious about the future of Xbox”

  1. Avatar

    ecumenical

    I don't really have a comment on your larger feelings about Xbox, but wanted to point out that if a 360 game is on the backward ocmpatibility list, you can play it using the 360 disc. So if there's an older game you want to play again, you can find a cheap used copy in the store and just pop it into your XB1 - no need to buy the digital version.


    Too bad about selling all the games though :( Microsoft really botched that launch in every way possible.

  2. Avatar

    sammyd710730

    Microsoft had some good ideas, but I think they tried to make too drastic a jump before the masses were ready.


    Sony kept it simple with PS4. They won this console generation the second E3 2013 finished.


    All digital game libraries, as well as game streaming services are inevitable, however the lead-in to these things needs to be more gradual.


    Don Mattrick came off as a tool and completely tone deaf to customers.


    Phil Spencer seems to be very in touch with gamers and what they want, and is doing everything he can to make sure Xbox can provide the best experience possible. Things like Game Pass, the acquisition of many new studios for new IPs, strong support for cross play, strong accessibility support, and backwards compatibility give Xbox a strong position moving forward.


    I get the feeling that the last few years were all about positioning for Xbox. Come 2020 when the next line of consoles / services launch, I think Microsoft comes out swinging for the fences.


    I wouldn't count them out yet.


  3. Avatar

    Tony Barrett

    Microsoft screwed up. No question, and they never recovered. XB1, XB1S, XB1X - all have failed to live up to expectations. MS made bold claims, failed to deliver, backtracked and now they're trying it again with the XB1 'digital edition'. Yes, things are a bit different now, but are they really THAT much different? More people *may* be happier having everything in Microsoft's XB cloud - all their purchases etc, but that gives MS a lot of control over design, delivery and pricing, and essentially kills the second hand game market. Yes, this is exactly how MS wanted it in 2013, and now they're trying again. Game studios hate this, and pushed back hard - and I think they'll do it again, especially as MS don't have the dominant platform, and have always been short of AAA titles. It's likely Sony will watch and wait, and make sure the PS5 is everything the XB isn't - again!

    • Avatar

      sammyd710730

      In reply to ghostrider:

      There IS a difference this go around, though. Sony consistently keeps away from cross play or cross saves, while the rest of the gaming industry is embracing it. Sony's unwillingness to participate is even causing some of it's most loyal followers to grow frustrated.


      Also - Sony so far has not been able to compete with Microsoft's Game Pass service. I also don't think that Sony has the infrastructure to provide a solid game streaming platform like Microsoft does. For the foreseeable future, offline support and a local box will still be required by most, but there's no doubt that we are moving towards an always connected, more digital platform for gaming. Microsoft has been putting in a ton of work on this front, and I believe they are well positioned to succeed.


      But let's be real, it really comes down to the games. Sony kills Microsoft right now when it comes to exclusives. Microsoft has spent some serious money in purchasing some pretty reputable dev studios. If some new, solid IPs can be generated from these acquisitions, then the gap between Sony and Microsoft can really shrink.


      Sony won with the PS4 because they showed they listened to what gamers wanted most. To date, they haven't shown much of a willingness to adapt. I think Microsoft really has a chance to sneak in and take a significant share of gamers back with this upcoming generation.

  4. Avatar

    hassan_timite

    Well, Personnaly i prefer PS games and i am allergic to cloud gaming for many reasons,especially the lack of reliable internet connection in my country. Thus unless the Xbox Scarlett has much more appealing games i won't be interested even if it is more powerful than the PS5.

  5. Avatar

    j_c

    I am not a big gamer but bought an Xbox One S for my kids and to play casually when I have spare time.


    I have been largely disappointed. I have zero interest in using the Xbox for anything other than games. I feel like the focus on being an entertainment ecosystem slows everything down and makes navigation/interface clunky and buggy and wastes time/resources that should be used for the darn game.


    I just want to load the game and play, the way consoles used to work. Instead I constantly sit and wait for things to load, update, load again, crash, update, load, change controller battery, reload, update.


    In general if I could go back I probably wouldn't have purchased it and doubt I will ever upgrade. My kids get bored with it and end up just wanting to play iPad games instead.

  6. Avatar

    Bats

    If I were you, I would wait. Don't "invest" anything with Xbox games and services. That division is a total mess...like everything else they have tried to venture in outside of Windows and Office. 


    Don't believe this "Microsoft has more cloud experience" BS that Microsoft followers keep saying. When one company goes through a journey and suffers pitfalls along the way, the truth is, EVERY entity learns from it, it as well. Outside companies not only learn from other company's mistakes, but they HIRE executives who know how to handle it. 


    The reason why I recommend you to "Hold" is because Sony, and their Playstation Division, has a firm hold in the gaming segment and it's going to take a colossal collapse on their part for Microsoft to ever be back in the "game." When it comes to gamers, they are just so happy with their Playstations, that I seriously doubt that they will ever go to the Xbox....ever. Think about it. These gamers have trophies, history, friends, communities, etc....all within the Playstation platform. Leave all that and try to rebuild it again in the Xbox World? I think not. Unless the Playstation suffers one helluva collapse, why move? Why switch? Look at Microsoft's best efforts to lure gamers back to the Xbox fold. It didn't work. Nothing worked. The more powerful Xbox One X "scheme" did not work. They tried everything and nothing worked. To paraphrase a former US President, "Read. My. Lips. It. Won't. Work."


    Keep in mind, this is not like a football (soccer), where everything resets to zero once a new season begins. Rather then next gen console wars will continue on where it left off from the previous generation because the state of gaming has changed to more things outside the realm of actual gaming like I mentioned above.


    Not just that, but the gaming market is about to get saturated....big time. Microsoft does not do well when it comes to competition. Not just that, but they don't know how to build an ecosystem, nor do they know how to maintain it. I am excited to see how this plays out. 


    I say this, because you are going to be told the opposite of what I am suggesting you do by people who constantly misjudge the tech landscape. The next thing you know.......you are out a few hundred bucks. 


    So all in all, I suggest you wait. Microsoft is rumored to have a more powerful gaming console along with an established cloud service. LOL....that means nothing. Absolutely nothing. 


    • Avatar

      ecumenical

      In reply to Bats:


      Why would a decision to get the next Xbox have anything to do with whether PlayStation users switch to Xbox in significant numbers? Strange argument.


      If you prefer PlayStation games, or Japanese games, get a PlayStation. If not, get an Xbox - you'll get a more powerful system, better backward compatibility, better online, and access to Game Pass which is a killer feature. (If you just like games in general, and you have an adult income, get both.)


      But it hardly matters which one happens to sell 90 million or 50 million.

      • Avatar

        Vladimir Carli

        In reply to ecumenical:


        I wonder, do you actually play games? Gaming machines (including consoles and PCs) today are social platforms, there are communities. That's why twitch and youtube are so important. Microsoft tried with mixer which is technically good but is still a complete failure. People choose the platform where their friends/classmates are and almost never "switch" to another one. The technical details we obsess about here are completely unimportant for normal people. Things like 4k/60hz are a very small detail in a list of choice determinants, very unimportant actually for most people. Backwards compatibility is mostly useless. Game pass being a killer feature is to be seen. I have it and rarely use it. It might be a good entry point for some but the value is overestimated in my opinion. Very few good titles and a lot of old shitty games.

  7. Avatar

    maethorechannen

    I think Microsoft got confused by telemetry - it wouldn't surprise me if somebody looked at the 360s usage stats and found the media apps usage beating out game usage so they assumed people were more interested in media than in games. And when Kinect became the "fastest selling accessory ever" then the next Xbox just had to have Kinect baked in.


    Add in some DRM that your friends over at the AAA publishers would love to see and you have a recipe for a failed console launch.


    Personally, I've been disappointed with this entire console generation. I know people keep going on about the PS4's first party titles, but only God of War has really peaked much interest for me. At least it could consistently handle 1080p unlike a certain other console this generation. I went to an Xbox One launch event and my first thoughts were "it's not any better than my 360". It almost feels like there wasn't a generational leap until the One X came out.


    For next generation, I expect I'll buy whatever plays the 3rd party games I like best first (if Ubisoft and Square Enix ever teamed up and released a console, I'd just buy that). If all things are equal then I'd lean towards Xbox thanks to Halo and Forza (which is what I bought the original Xbox for). Whatever happens, I won't be buying anything on day 1.

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