The Xbox Descends Into Oblivion
A Microsoft Fan Boy Bids Farewell
There is always a ton of speculation when a new company releases their first console. Questions always arise in the early days and the way they are answered could determine the length at which the company can continue to stay in the console making business.
- What does this system do differently?
- Are there enough exclusives to justify adding another console to your collection?
- Do third party games look and play better on the console?
When the original Xbox launched in 2001, Sony was just hitting their stride with the PS2 and a tried and true company (Nintendo) was about to release their follow up to the N64. The Xbox needed to really make some noise to compete in the market against these two juggernauts, and they did just that.
Launching with some heavy hitting exclusive titles such as Halo and Project Gotham Racing set them up for success. In the early days of the Xbox, Microsoft seemed to listen to their fans. Their original controller was a behemoth nicknamed “The Duke.” After much criticism, Microsoft restructured the controller making it smaller and the Xbox Controller S was born. The difference between the two was night and day and this controller would be just the change that the Xbox needed to cement itself as a permanent fixture in your home.
By the next generation Microsoft was king. The Xbox 360 spiraled Microsoft light years ahead of Sony, who completely botched everything in this generation. Not only was the PS3 hard to develop for, but their price points of $499 and $599 made the Xbox 360 a more affordable choice at $299 and $399. Over the course of last generation, Microsoft would lead the way – taking significant sales from Sony.
The Wii would go on to be an even bigger success. However, due to the underwhelming nature of the Wii’s hardware the games on the system could not compete with the Xbox 360 and PS3 leaving hardcore gamers to choose between the Microsoft and Sony systems.
Having learned nothing from their success and Sony’s failures during that generation, Microsoft did a complete 180 this generation and brought all of Sony’s mistakes into their own camp. The initial reveal was received in a very lukewarm manner.
- The initial price point came in $100 above the launch price of the PS4 (mistake number one).
- Another criticism was that the Xbox always needed and internet connection. Meaning no internet connection – no Xbox One. Soldiers overseas immediately took note of this. Due to the nature of their deployment the little downtime they have is precious and many of them enjoy spending that time playing video games. One thing they often lack though is online connectivity. The Xbox faithful immediately felt alienated (mistake number 2).
- The system initially also required Kinect (mistake number 3!) a gimmick that many had hoped would be left in the previous generation was now a requirement. All of these factors quickly turned away many Microsoft faithful who turned to Sony this generation. Not only was the PS4 a more powerful system, it was cheaper and offered more exclusives than Microsoft did on their platform.
This pretty much catches us up to present day. Microsoft has a shiny new console on their hands. The Xbox One X is set to release this fall. Not only have they failed to learn from the mistakes that Sony has made in the past, they now seem determined to follow in the path of Sega and their mistakes as well. There is no denying that The X will be the most powerful system on the market, much like the Dreamcast was upon it’s release in 1999. This was ahead of the PS2, seemingly in the middle of a console generation. Desperate for a hit, Sega rushed the system and brought it out too soon resulting in the end of Sega as a hardware developer.
The one thing that Sega had going for them that Microsoft currently lacks – exclusive games. Not only does the Xbox One X play the same games that the Xbox One and Xbox One S currently play, they will offer no exclusive games in the future. Microsoft is releasing this console in a year that has only seen ONE first party game. Were it not for Halo Wars 2, Microsoft would have zero first party titles in a year that Sony has given us Gravity Rush 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, Nioh, Yakuza, Nier: Automata, Persona 5, Dragon Quest Heroes 2 and Helblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and many more first party or console exclusives.
The final nail in Microsoft’s coffin came with the announcement of Crackdown 3’s delay. Though still playable on previous iterations of the Xbox One, Crackdown 3 would have at least given Microsoft a AAA first party release at the system’s launch. This all but sealed their fate this generation and probably for the Xbox brand as a whole. The brand has never been weaker and it’s probably time for Microsoft to put it to bed.
While it appears what is best for Microsoft and video game consumers would be for the Xbox to cease and Microsoft to leave the console business behind, all is not lost for the company and their fans. There is a solution to their woes – continue to develop software for other systems.
Imagine playing Halo on a Sony console, sounds crazy right? About as crazy as playing Sonic on a Nintendo console? If we were to time travel back to 1999 while playing Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast, and tell ourselves that we would be playing Sega games on a Nintendo console in the future, we wouldn’t believe ourselves. Fast forward nearly 20 years and it doesn’t seem so crazy. At the end of the day it is the games that make us happy. We don’t care what system we play them on.
At this point the Xbox One in any form is a bad investment. The games just aren’t there. While the life cycle of each console generation increases as new iterations of the prior system are released every couple of years, (more resembling current cell phone trends than former console generations) the time has come for Sony and Nintendo to make the consoles and Microsoft to provide high quality games to be played on these systems. Big first party titles such as Halo and Gears of War can easily transition to Sony’s platform and developers (such as Rare) can return to Nintendo the way God intended. Finally allowing us to play that Banjo Kazooie sequel on the Switch we’ve all been hoping for.
Thanks for the memories Microsoft, I have enjoyed my time with the Xbox. At this time though, that is all the Xbox should be – a memory.
Author: Phil Neyman
Philip is better at buying video games than he is at playing them. He was once told “it must suck to love something so much and be so terrible at it.” As a boy he would write terrible poems about himself and Ross Perot. He enjoys the best and worst of all forms of media, but nothing in the middle. Puyo Puyo Tetris has almost caused unreconcilable differences between him and his wife. He’s never had a hangover, but not from lack of trying.