I’m a gamer. Throughout my youth, I was famous for picking the wrong console to champion. I picked the Nintendo 64 when all my friends had a Playstation. I had the NES and Snes when the Sega Mega Drive was the system to have. All this had to come to a stop so when I was earning my own money I decided to get all the consoles in a cycle to avoid feeling like I had picked the wrong one. Because of this, I feel I can say who is winning each generation. PS2 was better than the OG Xbox just like the 360 was far superior to the PS3. Now the tables have well and truly turned and Microsoft is dropping the ball at every turn.
This failure can be traced back to the original vision and announcement of the Xbox one. It was designed to be the all in one entertainment solution for your home. The combination of voice controls and TV pass through via Kinect was meant to herald the smart enabled home. We only have to look now at the emergence of Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple’s soon to be produced offering to realize that the idea was sound. The delivery and the timing is what has killed the Xbox one.
The DRM And Digital Games Message.
If we look back with hindsight we can see what Microsoft was trying to do. If only they could have got their message and hardware to speak together. The vision they had was like a Steam set up for the Xbox One with the added benefit of some form of digital trade in system. Unfortunately, they didn’t commit fully to this and left the disc drive in the machine. Perhaps this was why so many machines had disc drive problems at launch. My day one edition still only reads the disc if you try to pull it out again halfway through the loading procedure. Just think if they had done away with the disc drive altogether and put a 2tb hard drive in the original box? You would have had Microsoft’s own version of a Steam Machine. While that is not something that sold in any numbers, the demand for a simple and powerful disc-less machine will always remain. When you add the ability to trade in games digitally and perhaps even get refunds like we now see on Steam, Microsoft would have future-proofed themselves had they stuck to their guns. Instead, prompted by fan reaction and a clever Sony, they went back on all their red line points and ended up with a fudge of a machine that fails to take advantage of Microsoft’s natural power. I mean look at their superior cloud system for saves? It just works. The controller? Class leading before you consider the Elite version. The userbase and live platform. Just how did they mess this up?
Remote Play And User Experience
This is where it falls down for me. Not everyone will consider this a problem but I feel the lack of remote play is the killer for the Xbox One in all its guises. With a toddler and being over 30 my gaming time is not what it once was. I still manage a respectable 14 hours a week on average and this is mostly because of the excellent PS4 Remote play app available on Windows and Mac. All I need is my laptop, controller, and WIFI and I’m as good as being in front of my console. It is a simple process and means I can game when I’m on my lunch break or when the main TV is being used. It is also the reason why I pick the PS4 version on cross-platform releases. I know if I pick the Xbox version I will be restricted to playing in the traditional fashion. So why does Microsoft not simply copy this across? They have some stupid thought process that people don’t need this. They are using their gaming division to cross-sell other products. The worst thing is I can’t even win if I buy Microsoft products. There is no ability to stream to my laptop unless I am on the same home network. Why would you restrict this feature? Can anyone give a valid reason why even if you buy solely Microsoft products you cannot stream from your Xbox One when you are away from the home? It is arrogance and stupidity in my opinion. Why restrict your advocates and in doing so stop people playing your console?
Microsoft used to have the best of both worlds. They had great exclusives and the best versions of third-party games. Now they seem to be obsessed with picking the biggest games and securing exclusivity for a timed period. Outside of Forza and Halo, there are really few reasons to get an Xbox as your primary console, despite how good these games are. Sony in 2017 has had Horizon Zero Dawn and Nioh in the first quarter. Microsoft had Halo Wars 2. The comparison for the mainstream is non-existent.
Innovation And The Future
PSVR. A simple answer to this question. Despite not being the class leader in hardware it’s good enough to work. What have Microsoft to offer? The Hololens? Kinect? One has been abandoned and the other seems like a rich person or developers plaything. PSVR is expensive but affordable and supported by a decent-sized library. The announcement of the Xbox One X was the perfect time for Microsoft to announce support or an open platform for existing PC VR headsets. At least then they would be able to offer parity or even surpass the PSVR. Instead, they announced the world’s most powerful console that sadly will never take the handbrake off.
Unless they change path as dramatically as they did at the beginning of this cycle, the console war is well and truly over.