EvenEven the most talented creators battle to end a trilogy. Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, the Wachowski sisters, David Fincher. By the 3rd entry, a project is set up, and the audience expects both more of the same and in addition that spark of newness that at first attracted them to the series.
The trilogy is a good template for Microsoft’s gaming consoles. The initial Xbox introduced Microsoft to the gaming world. The Xbox 360 established the tech company as the best competitor. Then, like so many trilogy endings, the Xbox One struggled to find balance between expectation and ambition.
And such as a trilogy, these three consoles will be remembered not merely as individuals but as a unit. The continuing future of Xbox will need a different method of the brand, a imaginative reboot of types of the assumptions of how exactly we play, buy, sell, and share our experience with video gaming.
To critique the Xbox One without including its predecessors will be like analyzing The Godfather Part III without mentioning The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. It could be critical negligence, ignoring the unfortunate confluence of ambition, imaginative freedom, critical expectations, and fan entitlement that is included with the final outcome of something that’s been a meaningful part of people’s lives – for a few, from childhood into early adulthood.
The Xbox You have been a messy, disappointing, often frustrating gizmo, but it addittionally, in hindsight, can be an exciting misfire that inspired brilliant ideas over the gaming and tech worlds. And it has bridged the gap between your past and the continuing future of the medium.
Possibly the better comparison is Return of the Jedi, a film that had to check out a masterpiece and create a universe that extended far beyond film. The Xbox One will be remembered for bridging the hardware era of the brand to something much bigger, less predictable, and potentially revolutionary.
Therefore, without further ado, my eulogy.
The big (bad) reveal of the Xbox One
The Xbox brand is in this awkward spot in 2020 that it’s a challenge to keep in mind the overconfidence of Microsoft’s leadership team on the eve of the Xbox One. This is 2013, a different time, and the band of execs were riding the most of the Xbox 360, a gargantuan success that had helped to popularize online multiplayer, downloadable indie games, and streaming video services.
For the Xbox One, Microsoft’s designers and executives envisioned something a great deal larger. They’d bestow after the world a gaming console that transcended video gaming, becoming something more ambitious and more profitable. Their rectangular black slab would end up being the centerpiece of our living spaces. It could feed us our games, but also our films, live television, sports scores, and social media. The console would ship with a disc drive, however the marketing emphasized internet connectivity and cloud computing, so that it is clear that the Xbox You might be considered a digital-first machine. Players could have usage of everything they could imagine, as long as it could enter their house via Wi-Fi. Sales of downloadable video gaming were climbing, high-speed broadband was more available than previously, and Microsoft had a console that was conceptualized because of this precise moment. In some recoverable format, the business had a home run.
The reveal was a tragedy.
The hourlong presentation is infamous, best remembered for concentrating on practically anything but video gaming: apps, Skype, the NFL, the continuing future of television, and brand partnerships. So many brand partnerships.
Fans were furious, and not simply about having less video games. Most of them despised the philosophy of the Xbox One. Because they saw it, Microsoft designed to control how players bought, shared, and played their video gaming. Or, to phrase it another way, where Microsoft had seen features, fans saw flaws.
Take, for instance, the presentation’s focus on Xbox One owners amassing massive libraries of digital games instead of bookshelves packed with boxes and discs. To permit players to still enjoy their own digital games on a friend’s Xbox One, Microsoft decided that each console would have to be perpetually monitored via an web connection to Microsoft’s servers to verify that the individual logged in had legal ownership of the intangible games. Even prior to the official reveal, social media was aflutter with rumors of opaque rules for sharing games with friends, perhaps prohibiting the sale and resale (and additional resale) of used games. And rumor had it that Kinect, the motion-control camera that watches you watching TV, will be mandatory.
These issues have been rumored even before Don Mattrick, then your president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, took the stage at the console reveal. He didn’t answer these questions; hell, he didn’t even acknowledge the rumors. Instead, he and a smorgasbord of suits from across Microsoft corporate spent a lot of the presentation talking at exhausting length about apps, brand partnerships, and HDMI ports. They showcased the brand new and better Kinect, the hands-free motion controller that could siphon power from the console. Plus they made a variety of promises about the cloud, so that it is appear to be a panacea for our entertainment woes.
Only one person in the Xbox squad mentioned new, exclusive games, a segment that got confined to a short window in the presentation’s back half.
Fans and reporters spammed social media with questions:
What will eventually the used-games industry?
How about folks with poor online connections?
What if internet companies enforce data caps?
Why do I have to own a Kinect?
Microsoft’s own messaging nosedived following the presentation, when a selection of Xbox reps gave a confusing mixture of responses to many of these big queries. No, the Xbox One wouldn’t ought to be online on a regular basis, but it would have to hook up every a day. You could give your games to a pal, but only one time, and you may want to pay a fee. Within days, Microsoft had walked back most of these decisions. Just like a student writing their thesis paper on the night time prior to the deadline, Microsoft’s pr strategy got revised and revised again, though rarely in a manner that added clarity.