Failures Of The Xbox One

Part one of a four part series.

Prepare for a little hyperbole!

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 as we nerds know it) is rapidly approaching, and naturally everyone is getting pumped for action-packed trailers, hands-on impressions of upcoming games, and the calculated press briefings of major companies that are looking to impress shareholders. A common practice for gamers and the gaming press alike is to make predictions about what the biggest corporations are going to do for their customers.

I won’t be doing that at all.

I feel that I’m due for a rant about the gaming industry’s heavy hitters. Where to begin? How about the Xbox One?

A Dearth Of First Party Games

Microsoft has been lacking in the first party category this generation; there’s no way around that. There have been a couple gems on the Xbox One in the form of Sunset Overdrive and the Forza Horizon games, and some good ones like Quantum Break, but the rest have been fairly mediocre.

Variety is lacking, and ever since Microsoft stopped pursuing exclusives, they’ve kinda dropped off the radar. They tried to buy exclusivity by locking games like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Dead Rising 3 on the Xbox One for a time, but all that did was piss people off. Scalebound? Gone. Fable Legends? Nowhere to be found. It doesn’t help much that a seemingly large amount of gamers are heavily invested in Japanese titles, which Xbox One notably lacks. No Nier: Automatas or Personas to be found, and the big publishers, like Electronic Arts, Activision, Ubisoft, and Warner Brothers are flocking to the PS4 to make exclusivity deals for content too.

Where’s the Xbox’s Horizon: Zero DawnUncharted 4? Destiny 2 is set to provide another set of exclusive content for the largest console install base. All the Xbox One seems to have to show for itself is backwards compatibility for some 360 games and a handful of exclusives that can be found on the PC anyway.

The Weaker Console

It’s no secret that Microsoft started out this generation at the bottom. The Xbox One was supposed to be the hub of home entertainment by trying to be a jack of all trades. Of course, this meant that instead of system resources being powerful enough to play games at the highest resolutions and framerates, the Xbox One was relegated to being the home of the less impressive games.

The power deficit would apparently be closed by cloud computing, and we all saw how that worked out. With Microsoft trying to distance itself from a disastrous launch, they promptly phased out the infrastructure that would enable the Xbox One to magically perform better.

Microsoft has since introduced the Xbox One S and Project Scorpio in an attempt to close the gap with the PS4’s performance, but the damage has already been done. Even with a UHD Blu-Ray player and built in HDR and 4K upscaler, the Xbox One S has failed to win over gamers. Likewise, the gaming community seems skeptical (if not outright hostile towards) the release of the 6 TeraFLOPs monster that’s rumored to be releasing this year. Perhaps this is because Sony has already released their 4K capable PS4 Pro and updated the standard PS4 to support HDR standards, but it’s not that simple really.

It appears that even a hardware refresh can’t win over any gamers to the Microsoft console platform, no matter how powerful it is.

Mixed Messages

At the beginning of this generation, the Xbox One was designed to be always online and ready to fulfill the user’s needs for a media and gaming hub that combined the benefits of physical and digital media. The world wasn’t ready for the restrictions that surrounded that however. The DRM requiring regular check-ins, the restrictions on used games, and the requirement of having the nefarious Kinect sensor plugged in and listening at all times turned people off.

The Xbox One was seen (in some cases, still seen) as an invasion of privacy in the form of a plastic box. Many of my customers worried that taking the Xbox One home put them at the mercy of an overreaching government, looking to peek into their daily lives through the Kinect sensor.

Fast forward to today and Microsoft has given up on the digital future they seemed so invested in. The Kinect sensor is almost completely defunct. The previously lauded “snap” feature is gone.

The whole system is a shell of what it was originally envisioned to be. Sure, it’s a better console, but many consider the PS4 superior in every way that the Xbox One is trying to compete. The unique aspects of the Xbox platform is gone, save for a few features that apparently don’t matter to most gamers.

The Little Things

The rest of the Xbox One’s failures come in the form of the slow UI, the requirement to have separately purchased batteries handy, and the lack of VR. Microsoft may be trying to innovate, but they’re on the wrong side of most gamers it seems. They’re building on the suggestions of a fluctuating community, and have been behind the curve for too long.

Is It The End Already?

Their weak start due to an initial refusal to serve the customer’s interest didn’t win them any fans. Now they’re attempting to make up the lost ground in the arms race of gaming. Microsoft’s success in the world of console gaming will depend on how far they’re willing to go to court gamers. Will they be able to deliver on the promise of great games for the Xbox One? Will Project Scorpio be priced low enough to entice people to invest in the most powerful console to hit the market? Does power matter enough?

Only time will tell.

Did I miss any failures of the Xbox One? Can they turn the tables before the next generation of consoles comes out? Let me know in the comments below!

You can find the other pieces here:


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28 thoughts on “Failures Of The Xbox One

  1. I agree with all these points way more than I’d like to. Coming from the 360, the Xbox One always seemed like a disappointment. My friends and I even have a running joke whenever something breaks on our systems; we always cry, “Good thing these are next gen!”

    I look forward to the remaining parts of this series!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This generation has been pretty disappointing. I think we have the last generation to blame though. The bar was set so high for what we expected to change I think. The jump in graphics last generation was a big one. I think we all just expected everything to be better on the same scale.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Their weak start due to an initial refusal to serve the customer’s interest didn’t win them any fans.”
    This. This is perfectly SPOT ON and what ticked me off about xBox One when it was first coming out. I was a Playstation Girl and mostly got xBox for like…. Fable. Because I love that series. (For the most part. Loved I, II, and III.) And then they started having backwards compatible so I could play Mass Effect.
    And you pretty much nailed this. Applauding you, because yup – you just hit everything I used to say about it. They were trying to get more people who do the casual thing when they truly should have stuck with their big audience: Gamers. People they were trying to reel in? Didn’t see the point in spending the money on it when they had stuff like Roku or other things that were cheaper and wasn’t this huge honking thing.
    …..
    I am going to stop now. XD But thank you for this.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. good summary on the xbox one. I think early it MS didn’t do good by pissing off it’s fans with DRM. It was off to a bad start, even though they decided not to go through with it in the end.

    Even good things like backwards compatibility won’t work unless there are interesting new games being released. The franchises they banked on didn’t seem well received, and just too many sequels at this point. Combine that with cancelled new IPs and closing of studios, fans are just going to get more and more pissed.

    I don’t know what this spells for the future. I feel like the Scorpio will fall into the same trap, because again, it’s ALL about the games. Scorpio can bring all the horse power it needs, but without games that appeal to a wider audience, it will go through the same fate. It will need more than just hardware to do well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was a Sony gamer during the PS3 vs. Xbox 360 days (last console generation), and stuck by the brand even when most of my friends and co-workers were 360 gamers. I loved the God of War, Infamous, and Uncharted brands. These helped to define what the Playstation 3 was all about. With this generation, it seems as if Microsoft is making all the wrong choices.
    The Xbox One being weaker than the PS4 (although, this is kind of like the Chevy Camaro versus the Ford Mustang comparison). I own both, but I don’t regularly play both. I play my Xbox One S much more because I like the controller’s feel and am a pretty big racing fan (Drive Club drove me away from my PS4, and Forza: Horizon 2 welcomed me with open arms). With that being said, I do not think that the Xbox One’s list of exclusives (other than the Forza IP) can hold a candle to Sony’s First-Party Exclusives. Sunset Overdrive will never be as polished or as fun as Infamous: Second Son, Gears of War 4 was not that fun, Halo 5 was a mess compared to the previous entries in the franchise, and I played Ryse for maybe 5 minutes before switching to something else.
    Microsoft’s biggest problem is they are looking at the past four years of their Xbox One being weaker than the Playstation 4 and saying, “Look! The Scorpio is so much more powerful!” So, that will make three Xbox Ones – each pretty different in various ways – within four years. It screams desperate, and is a big reason why even the most loyal Xbox gamers such as myself are worried about the State of Affairs in Camp Xbox.
    I hate my Playstation 4 (largely because their customer service is nothing like Microsoft’s – Sony reps just do not care to make the customer happy), and refuse to play it many times…but every time I turn it on am blown back by how fun the Uncharted, TLOU and Infamous titles are. I am not impressed by Xbox’s exclusives, by any measure of the imagination.
    If this is a five-part series, I’d say you have more than enough source material for it – and Microsoft has no one to blame but themselves

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like my experience with the Xbox One, but it’s impossible to ignore their faults, and wrong to do so in my opinion. The biggest complaint has been about their exclusives, and it’s fair to be honest. However, I will admit that the majority of PS4 exclusives don’t appeal to me at all. It made this piece quite difficult to write without coming across as overly critical.

      Their about-face seems genuine, but only time will tell if it truly is.

      Like

  5. “Where’s the Xbox’s Horizon: Zero Dawn?”

    This is the big piece right here I think. Sony has continued to invest in new IP on a first party level at such a greater level than Microsoft that it dwarfs them to a point where people think there is nothing new on the XB1. It’s not that MS hasn’t brought new IP to the table either, Sunset Overdrive, Quantum Break, and ReCore are solid and fun games but when you match them up against big hitters like Horizon and Bloodborne, they seem nonexistent. That said, while I love Horizon (it’s my favorite game of the year so far), my PS4 consistently collects dust and I’d rather play Halo 5, Forza Horizon, and Gears 4 than most of Sony’s exclusives (Uncharted and Until Dawn were also great though).

    “Fast forward to today and Microsoft has given up on the digital future they seemed so invested in.”

    I don’t think that is entirely true. It just hasn’t come about like they originally pitched, and certainly not as elegantly. Both Sony and MS have pushed their digital futures more and more over the last few years but they’ve had to do it more subtly. I honestly think that MS knew where the future of console gaming was going and tried to force it there. We gamers are a stubborn lot though and don’t like anything forced on us. (The simple fact that I can buy one copy of Overwatch and my son can play it on the Home Xbox upstairs and I can play on my account on the second Xbox is the future I saw when they showed off the XB1 and that is here now). Sony smartly jumped on MS and took the mindshare and it has never returned, despite Sony not being nearly as customer friendly as they portray themselves.

    “Can they turn the tables before the next generation of consoles comes out?”

    No. But then again, I don’t think that they have to. I think with the Scorpio (and god, I’ll be happy when it has an official name this time next week) Microsoft is getting out of the traditional console generation cycle. Everything they’ve been saying has been pointing to them moving to an iterative cycle like smart phones. It won’t be every year and maybe not every two but we’re going to see hardware refreshes from MS on a more regular basis and eventually the OG XB1 will be retired or unsupported by new software, kind of like an iPad or iPhone. We’ll see though.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When the XboxOne vs Playstation 4 debacle first came down, I really sat and wondered what happened. After all, Microsoft and Sony are heavy-hitting companies with powerful consoles. I wonder if the problems are more historical. Microsoft is a computer software company. They create software that have historically had protection against pirating/sharing programs. The focus has always been on, really, protecting the machine’s integrity.

    Sony, on the other hand, has historically been in entertainment, and therefore a little more versed in that culture, which includes providing content that folks want, and want to share with each other. With that in mind, it makes sense that Microsoft wanted to build a great machine, and Sony has Horizon: Zero Dawn.

    I don’t know, it’s just a thought. But now that Microsoft has to face the music, so to speak, they are lost.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Okay, I’m sorry, but why does a console have to have exclusives to be considered on top of the console war? In that train of thought, why does there even have to be a console war?
    People have what they like and do not like. Some will like what one console offers over the other console. So what if the XB1 isn’t pushing out exclusives or focusing on that? Who cares which one sells more consoles on a yearly basis? The Ps4 has an advantage with all of its ridiculous Japanese porn games.

    For me, the XB1 will always be the console I play because: 1) the controller is comfortable and makes sense with my hands, 2) I enjoy the games they release, 3) the dashboard doesn’t make me want to blow my brains out.

    Does the XB1 fall short on how many games they push out? Absolutely. Is that a deal breaker? Not for me. I rarely have time to play games, but when I do I make sure they’re quality games. Other than Horizon, I am looking at the XB1 for those games.

    I would certainly not say that the XB1 not having VR is a let down. VR is in its infancy. Whose really taking advantage of it right now anyway? I mean, besides the obvious hipsters.

    How is the XB1 an invasion of privacy? Am I the only one who remembers the video device on the Ps4?

    All in all it doesn’t come to which is superior, it comes to which console gamers prefer more. Either you’re an XB1 fan or a Ps4 fan. Whichever you are you’ll be more inclined to defend.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been thinking about Xbox lately and even mentioned it in my last weekly gamer post. I wanted to know whether or not I should spring for an XBone or a 360, because a game I really want to play is only on the latter, but I assumed I’d be able to play it on the more recent system. Without fail everyone said I should just get a 360, because there were more exclusive JRPGs on that along with the game, Lost Odyssey, I wanted. That’s…pretty telling. While I did purposely buy my own PS3, there are still a ton of games I can and have played exclusively on the PS4.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it is across the corporate board.
        How corporations can have millions for R&D,
        real time customer feedback (GIVE THE PEOPLE
        WHAT THEY WANT!) & decades of competitive
        leverage & your still run the company into the
        ground. Just look at Corporate Television & Film,
        they are all just treading water, trying to re-hash
        old successes & failing miserably. Every dog has
        its day, & these corporate scallywags are no different.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Many companies, especially ones in telecomms and retail, having aging board members that are stuck in the mentality of old. Companies like Comcast think that they can still get away with being corporate jackasses just because they have a monopoly, but don’t see that the public eye is turning against them. Retail companies think that they can continue worshiping the almighty dollar while ignoring their employees and customers.

          I think the change in leadership with Microsoft is indicative of them realizing they couldn’t keep that course and expect to keep the Xbox division afloat, otherwise they could’ve just held onto Don Mattrick and his ilk, attempting to ride out the storm.

          Of course, they didn’t make changes to try to be the good guys. They made changes to help their bottom line. That’s what I’d expect from a company like Microsoft anyway.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. You hit the nail on the head. Atrophy in the board room.

            Just send in the Grandchildren of these board members &
            there MIGHT be a chance to salvage these old dinosaur bones.
            But unfortunately we know these corporate types only stick
            to what they know, rather than be proactive & innovative.

            The bottom line & customer satisfaction are tied together,
            there is no bottom line when you have no customers.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Interesting article… It’s funny how the Xbox 360 was at it’s time better than the PS3, or at least way more popular – now it shoots itself in the foot with the Xbox One, who from many friends say it’s such a troublesome console with many errors and problems. I personally preferred PlayStation anyway.

    Like

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