People know I am not the biggest supporter of Microsoft’s Xbox family of consoles out there. There is nothing inherently wrong with them, I own both an Xbox and a 360, and in all likelihood I will own an Xbox One – but there is something about the machines that I am not a fan of. It’s nothing concrete, just a feeling I have about the systems. That being said, I am not the kind of guy who wants to see a console manufacturer fail or go out of business. While I was a Nintendo guy growing up, the day that Sega closed its console production doors was probably the saddest day in gaming that I had ever experienced. I don’t want to see a company fail. I have seen a few console producers close in my days and I really don’t want to see it happen again. Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that the missteps that Microsoft has seemingly made with the Xbox One in some gamers’ mind will lead to its downfall… but it has put them in a position behind that of Nintendo and the Wii U and Sony and their PlayStation 4.
Whether you are an Xbox fan or not, you have to admit that the Microsoft Xbox One conference a few weeks ago certainly didn’t ingratiate the Xbox One to many gamers out there. Just looking at the Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and numerous social media feeds out there, as well as the response from the majority of the gaming media out there certainly made it known that the Xbox One failed to connect with the one audience that it needed the most to connect with – the gaming audience. The hardcore gamers that had seemingly flocked to the Xbox over the past ten years felt more than just a little betrayed by the direction that press conference was directed in. For the majority of the hour long conference gamers heard more about the multimedia and social applications than it did about gaming. We heard more about ESPN and the NFL than we did about Call of Duty or Forza. And we didn’t even hear a peep about Halo or Gears of War or anything... I mean, where were Microsoft’s big guns? Update after update, article after article, I saw more negative responses to the Xbox One press conference than I did about support or positive feedback.
Straight to the point, it felt that Microsoft dropped the ball – and the worst thing was that it was their ball to fumble. They had a console to show – Sony had just talked about the PS4 but Microsoft had an actual console to show off. Microsoft had an hour of airtime on Spike all to themselves – at E3 Sony and Nintendo would be vying for attention, along with Microsoft, from all the media and attendees there. Microsoft had a few weeks jump on the competition to show gamers what they had in store – instead they showed off aspects of their machine that most gamers could really give two shits about. I am serious; I spent most of the day looking over various sites to gauge where the gaming community was about the announcement. I know what the majority were saying and if this was the first impression we were getting on the Xbox One it sure as hell was far from a good one. In all honesty, this was the equivalent of a socially inept, awkward freshman teen throwing up all over the senior prom queen after introducing himself to her. The introduction to the Xbox One was nothing short of a huge mess. Whatever missteps Nintendo has made in their first year, whatever missed opportunities Sony has made since announcing the PlayStation 4 – the way that Microsoft and the Xbox One alienated the core gaming public in that one hour was bigger than any mistake the other two have done in that time.
So Microsoft and the Xbox One need this E3 to really help shed a better light on the new console; to make a second first impression. Their E3 press conference should give gamers a better sense of where the Xbox One will head in terms of video games. The gamers who flocked to the machine to make it a success, the gamers who pushed Microsoft to the forefront of video gaming, the same gamers who felt betrayed and let down as they heard how the new console was for everyone but saw little evidence a few weeks ago about how it would matter to them. Microsoft needs to remind gamers why it was that they are among the top video gaming entities in the world by showing off what the Xbox One can do as a gaming machine and not the all-around entertainment center the home needs. I’ll be perfectly honest: I have a laptop, desktop, DVR, Blu-ray player and Smart TV that do enough of what the Xbox One is promising to do – I don’t need another multi-function machine in my home. In that regards Microsoft is a bit late to that party. But what I want from my Xbox One is to deliver the next level of gaming that I want it to. That conference a few weeks ago didn’t show me any of that – and a lot of my fellow gamers felt the same way. That is why Microsoft needs a huge E3 performance to set themselves up in a better position after the show than they are going into it. If they fail to show big at E3, than that showing a few weeks ago may be the first indication of a long rocky road for the Xbox One – one that I really hope we don’t see.
I’ve seen too many consoles “fail” in my 30 plus years, I don’t really want to see another one go down that route. Truth be told, I believe that the more consoles on the market make the industry better as a whole, especially for gamers as companies try to outdo and progress further than each other in competition for the consumer’s attention and money. And I don’t mind them wanting my money as long as they can deliver a strong and engaging video game experience. But that is something Microsoft has yet to show that the Xbox One can do – and why they need to do a good job of it at this year’s E3.