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 Dawn? Uncharted 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.
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:
- Failures Of Steam
- Failures Of The PlayStation 4
- Failures Of Nintendo
- Failures Of The Gaming Community
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