In a four part article, we’ll be taking a look at the current state of play for Xbox One. Two years on from its release, we’ll explain how the console has moved on from the initial doom and gloom that accompanied its announcement, turning it into the powerhouse of a console that we now know and love. 

Part I – The One-Two Punch of Doom

I’ll never forget May 21, 2013. I was so excited for the Xbox One reveal. I told my boss that I was taking a two and a half hour lunch so I could go home and watch it live. I remember even telling him he could fire me if he wanted (we were good friends so I knew he wouldn’t). The Xbox 360 had become such a focal point of my entertainment time, and ultimately the reason I identify myself as a gamer, that I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. I sat down on my couch, had a soda, and prepared to bear witness to what I thought would be the greatest gaming machine ever made. And then it began.

If Don Mattrick had just come out on stage, pointed at the box, and pointed at the screen while they played footage of COD, Ryse, and Forza 5, everyone would have been in awe. But that’s not what he did. In hindsight, Mattrick’s biggest downfall during that conference was that he made the decision to say words on stage. I’m sure most of us have seen the video on YouTube. It sounded something like: “TV, TV, TV, COD, TV, TV, TV. Oh, and don’t forget TV.” On top of unveiling what seemed to be a new type of cable TV box, they made core elements of their new product seem utterly confusing at best – game sharing, anyone?

don pic 1

The small part of me that’s a fanboy tried to justify all of this. “They’re just wanting that 10 second clip that moms will see on CNN. The games will come at E3,” I told myself. But deep down I knew this was the equivalent of watching your favorite baseball team go down 7-0 in the top of the first inning in game seven. Your heart says they can come back, but your head knows it’s most likely over as long as the opponent does what they should do. And that’s what Sony would do a few weeks later at E3.

In the weeks between the Xbox One reveal and E3, confusion reigned supreme. In the age of social media, where few people allow facts to get in the way of their opinions, this spelled trouble for Microsoft. This is especially true when there were very few clear cut facts to counter the things being said. Public perception of the Xbox One became something that painted it as a giant VCR-looking-thing that hates gamers and won’t allow you to play if you don’t have an internet connection. For those of us who weren’t so quick to sum it up, a lot of questions still remained. Why is the Kinect mandatory? How does this game sharing you were talking about actually work? If my internet goes down, am I unable to play even purely single player games like Ryse? The most troublesome thing about these concerns is that Microsoft was mostly quiet about it. They’d only release vague statements about how the focus will be on games at E3.

When E3 actually arrived, Xbox led off with the first conference of the day, as has become the norm. It was actually a pretty good conference. Until the final minute or two. They showed off Ryse, Call of Duty, Forza Motorsport 5, and many other games. They all looked beautiful. Don Mattrick came out and talked about the all-in-one nature of the box – again – and went on and on about Kinect. Most of us were able to overlook that because the games looked so good. Then, at the end, they sent poor Phil Spencer to the wolves to present one of the biggest buzzkills I’ve ever seen at E3. Phil took the stage and announced that the Xbox One would be coming in November…at the price point of $500. The arena went mostly silent. Even the Titanfall reveal at the very end couldn’t save it.

xbox one kinect image

Despite this, the reception to Microsoft’s conference was positive overall. People were pre-ordering the Xbox One throughout the day on Monday. Then, Sony took the stage Monday evening and delivered blow after blow until the Xbox One was on the ground in the fetal position. Looking back, there were moments in that conference where Sony was being childish at best. “This is how you share games on the PlayStation 4” comes to mind. But Sony accomplished one critical thing that Microsoft had completely failed to do: deliver a clear message about what their product does and who it was for. Then came the final blow: Jack Tretton announced on stage that the PlayStation 4 would release at the price point of $400. A full $100 less than the Xbox One. This announcement led to a full minute-long standing ovation from the crowd in the arena.

The remainder of E3 was essentially damage control for Microsoft. They were placed in a position where they had to defend the mandatory inclusion of the Kinect with the console, the always online DRM, and the price point. Their efforts became nothing short of a disaster on that front, too. Facing a barrage of questions about how the always online nature of the box might alienate a portion of their customer base, Don Mattrick answered with: “we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity, it’s called Xbox 360.” Regardless of how true it may be that gaming, and society in general, is moving more and more towards a state of being always connected, this statement was indicative of how out of touch the leadership at Microsoft really was. At a time when they needed to be easing people’s concerns, they were doubling down.

That statement was made by Mattrick on June 12, 2013. On July 1, he was no longer the head of Xbox and no longer employed by Microsoft. In a statement, the company said he was leaving to explore other opportunities – namely to be the CEO of Zynga – but does anyone really believe that? The timing was way too much of a coincidence. On May 21, Mattrick revealed what was to be his crowning achievement, then just six weeks later decides he’d rather oversee Farmville? Sure. The likely reality is that for a company as visible as Microsoft, being embarrassed in public fashion the way they had been was beyond unacceptable. Add to that the fact that they still had to try to sell the Xbox One to consumers. They desperately needed to change the message and the image of the console, and any attempt to do that with Mattrick as the face of the brand would be as disastrous as the previous six weeks had been. In the eyes of gamers, he was the figurehead for everything that had happened, so the reality is that he had to go.

xbox one image 1

Mattrick leaving wasn’t the first step Microsoft took in attempting to quickly change the perception of the Xbox One. I can only imagine the heated meetings that probably took place in Redmond after E3 2013. On June 19, just one week after E3, Microsoft announced a complete abandonment of the DRM, daily online “check-in”, and game sharing policies. Some saw this as a panic move, and in the U.S., where “flip-flopping” is seen as weakness, Microsoft was ridiculed. Looking back though, how was this not the smartest and only possible move they had to make? They had to do something, and doing it sooner was better. By doing it in June, they could absorb the criticism in June and July, and by the end of the summer they’d at least have a chance to make the conversation be about what the console can do again.

Despite their best (albeit late) efforts, the Xbox One was being outsold 3-1 by the PlayStation 4 in the United States when the consoles launched in November 2013. That number was extremely concerning because it was in the U.S. that the Xbox 360 dominated. Clearly, Microsoft still had a lot of work to do if they wanted the console to be seen as a viable option by the public. In order to do that, they would have to not just reverse policies, but reverse the perception that the PlayStation 4 was the only console out there that was pro-gamer.

Now read – The State of Xbox One – Part II: The Court of Public Opinion

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4 years ago

[…] a time as any to revisit this series with a fifth installment. You can get caught up with parts one, two, three and four right […]

otherZinc
otherZinc
6 years ago

@Tyler,

What a stupid article. This is bs. 2013? How about Sony lying?, get used to 1080p 60fps…where Sony? Forza Motorsport 5 & 6 is it for AAA games. Sony has None.

People say Sony has games, games, games…Indie games that I did not need a Next-gen Console to play. Sony will have 1 AAA Exclusive in Uncharted 4 for 2016, M$ will have 7 (Ricor, Scalebound, Crackdown, Halo Wars 2, Forza Horizon 2, Fable Legends, & Gears 4).

See, the media won’t mention that. They just want to bring up the past, a past that Sony is doing today…Sony has tv tv tv that some paid $100 for that’s now been discounted to $20. Sony has the same UI, try scrolling to the bottom of your PS4 Friends List…lol, there aren’t any Friend notifications on the PS4, you can’t even change your damn name on the PS4, Yet, you guys praise it. Whatever.

Sony has offered nothing new this gen.

One more thing; Backwards Compatability by M$ should be commended, but the biased media condemned M$s effort when Sony makes you pay…yet, you guys jock Sony. Whatever, all of you are ridiculous & awful for gaming progression.

Tyler, if you aren’t biased; write a Sony Lying article on the Promises they didn’t keep, delayed games, Sparse AAA titles, & Exclusive Games that can be played on the Atari 2600.

Tyler
Tyler
Reply to  otherZinc
6 years ago

Thanks for reading. I promise you I’m not biased – this is the first part of a four part article. I absolutely take Sony to task over what can only be called hypocrisy. We just didn’t want to post it all together when it’s close to 10k words.

I own both consoles and am not shy about saying I absolutely prefer the Xbox One, for many of the reasons you talked about in your comment.

TraceSkipper
TraceSkipper
Reply to  otherZinc
6 years ago

lol

phar0ahad3
phar0ahad3
6 years ago

I think the woes of the xbox one werent only based on this generation its something that started last gen and bled to this gen but currently there is no way theyll ever make a comeback unlike the ps3…

Willian Brasbiel Martins
Willian Brasbiel Martins
6 years ago

I’d like to translate this text to Brazilian Portuguese and upload it to my YouTube channel (giving credits to the site). Is that ok for you?

TheXboxHub
Reply to  Willian Brasbiel Martins
6 years ago

Can you throw us an email please Willian. Would like to discuss this. neil:disqus.com Cheers

Willian Brasbiel Martins
Willian Brasbiel Martins
Reply to  TheXboxHub
6 years ago

Done!

Jared
Jared
6 years ago

I never had an issue with the always online feature because I live in a major city (well close to one now anyway) and never had a problem with high speed internet. I don’t recall the whole “it’s called Xbox 360” for folks without broadband but that’s really pathetic. Basically he’s saying you can’t have this new system and sucks to be you. I was looking forward to playing disc games w/o them in the drive and sharing digitally but not having to be always on is definitely better for the majority. I would have pre-ordered but $500 was way to steep of price.

Barry Harden
Barry Harden
Reply to  Jared
6 years ago

Well Lizard Squard proved in 2014 the Always-online strategy for consoles was just a BAD idea. You never know whether you have a problem with your own internet connection or with XBL servers.

At the end of the day you have to admit Micro$oft’s main goal for the XBone was to cover many paths as possible to squeeze money from each and every customer.

Here’s a breakdown:

Always online = end of game disc sharing within a family with multiple consoles.
Always online = never ending amount of ads on dashboard
TV online + Kinect = valuable profit for Micro$oft to sell viewership statistics
DRM = end of traditional used game sales
DRM = no more game disc sharing
Cheap parts = picking lower end GPU and DDR3 memory ensures lower cost of console but maximizes profit for Micro$oft.

As you can see the last part resulted in most multiplatform games to be released at a lower resolution than their PS4 counterpart. Unfortunately the damage has been done and there’s now an acknowledgement in the gaming community the XBone is a weaker console. Nothing Micro$oft can do but move on and hope the Xbox Two will rectify the issues of the XBone.

Jrocker23
Jrocker23
6 years ago

While I agree that the reveal & E3 put a big dent in the One, I will agree as well that Phil has done amazing work with the team to turn it around. Even though the PS4 is a good game machine & slightly more powerful (i own one but yet to see the difference),

I honestly feel that the X1 feels more like a next gen console. In my opinion, between both consoles the X1 wins on features, Snap, Integrated TV (yes I like the TV features & use them), instant switching between apps/games. I like Sony’s recording feature but I do miss the Xbox record that option with Kinect when I am playing on the one. I love the instant 30 second clip process and it just seems more cumbersome with PS4. I don’t use the 15 minute recording much at all and the 30 second clip feature is used a lot by me.

One last thing that bothers me is the fact that Sony is spending so much on exclusive deals & marketing, I think it is truly hurting them in regards to funding their own first party games. I know Microsoft did it for years with the 360 but they have the money to do the exclusive deals and first party games as they have shown. I would prefer they both didn’t waste money on exclusive deals besides maybe new IP’s for their consoles but let the rest go.

While I know most wont agree & will probably call me a fanboy or tear up my comments, I’m really not a fanboy. I do enjoy both consoles but have preferred Xbox for a while. Either way, to each his/her own, enjoy what you have & play. After all is just about the games.

Tyler
Tyler
Reply to  Jrocker23
6 years ago

There’s three more parts to the article 🙂 I think you’ll find I touch on a lot of the stuff you said here. I also like the TV and voice commands and use both daily.

Orion Pax
Orion Pax
Reply to  Jrocker23
6 years ago

Phill did amazing work blah blah fuckiddy blah, PS4 still won, u mad?

Jrocker23
Jrocker23
Reply to  Orion Pax
6 years ago

What would I have to be mad about, I want the competition and while I do own a PS4, I am not blind to its short comings. Yes Sony is leading in sales but I really don’t know why. We have no real first party games. A ton of indie games, not all great either. More power than Xbox One but I have yet to really see it. 1080p issues, I rather have frame rate, games run better.

I want both consoles to succeed, it brings competition and new/better ideas.

As for winning, did we the gamers really win. Sony wins big time with cash in their pocket. What have you or I really won? Where are the games? The Order, drive club sucked. Killzone was average.. How many exclusives have we really seen, where is GOD of War, where is gran turismo, uncharted delayed. over 2 years already and what do we really have to show?

Back compat games, have to rent or repurchase, this sucks for people that own them already, cant use the disc.

We can complain all we want about the xbox one but I think most sony gamers are mad or jealous. Xbox has already released a bunch of exclusives, has a ton coming for 2016 with some new IP’s. Listening to their customers & updating the machine monthly.

Again the PS4 is a good gaming machine if that’s all you want (still waiting on the games though). It is a terrible multimedia machine but most Sony gamers don’t care about the extras according to what i see them say on the forums so this shouldn’t be an issue for them.

jonboyo
jonboyo
6 years ago

I wanted the one with the best games and graphics… Only the success of x360 and Xbox gold with its excellent party chat and better online implementation kept me from jumping ship… Oh and that no one I knew would join me if I jumped ship. Still I was very unhappy with the x1s rubbish dashboard, that the 360 crapped on all the way until a few months back.

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6 years ago

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truone
truone
6 years ago

It was really a tuff time I still pre ordered the console as soon as they went live but they sunk their own ship with that e3 reveal.

Neil Watton
Reply to  truone
6 years ago

Yep, I was another who pre-ordered. But then I didn’t ever (and still don’t) have an issue with Kinect or the TV side of things. Granted, games should always come first – and they def shot themselves in the foot – but I was happy enough with the reveal…and more than happy with the way things have gone since!

MIDI
MIDI
Reply to  truone
6 years ago

What is interesting is if you go back and look at Microsofts E3 conference, its not nearly as bad as many have said. While Tv was mentioned several times it was not mentioned in succession as purported and contrary to popular belief there were good launch titles revealed. Sometimes the internet can be very loud but not necessarily CORRECT

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6 years ago

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