In November the Xbox One will hit its second year anniversary and while the Xbox One today is way more appealing than the Xbox One from two years ago, looking back at the console’s announcement and launch, things really didn’t go as badly as some make it out to be, but what exactly was the big problem, and if the console of today launched two years ago, would Microsoft be in a different position?
Microsoft announced the Xbox One during a special event held on May 21, 2013 and while the name itself lead to some raised eyebrows, many accepted Microsoft’s idea of an all-in-one system which blended both living room gaming, with other living room entertainment. Soon after the announcement however, there were some fairly controversial announcements: The always-on Internet requirement, and the deadly DRM features, both of which were quickly scrapped before the console’s launch.
But two years on, are these two things really that big of a problem, and would things be different if Microsoft stood strong by their decisions?
The Xbox One launched in November at a fairly hefty price of £429.99 complete with the new Kinect 2.0, and although Microsoft, at the time, admitted that it wouldn’t be ditching the Kinect, they did, and two years later you can grab an Xbox One console for the more affordable price of £299 complete with game. That’s a £130.99 price drop compared to the launch price of the console.
Now, the reason I’ve shoehorned that factoid in there is because of my next point. If Microsoft launched the console at that price, I personally believe that the console would have a fighting chance against the PlayStation 4, which has quickly become the best-selling console in the world right now, likely due to its low price and fairly non-controversial launch.
If Microsoft launched the console at that price, with the two controversial features attached, do I believe the console would still be considered the worst thing ever? Honestly, I don’t think so. Personally, I don’t ever turn on my Xbox and disconnect from the Internet. If I’m playing on my Xbox One, chances are, I’m connected to Xbox Live even when I’m playing a single player title.
Additionally, I don’t tend to sell or lend games to people, so the whole DRM restrictions really don’t apply to me either. Though I feel that in writing, the DRM features Microsoft initially had planned for the console sounded much worse than they would be in practice. I also have a lot of digital games, which I can’t lend to friends nor can I sell them back to Microsoft, so these are bound to my console, much like the DRM features would have made even retail discs.
So what’s the problem here? I know many people who have gone digital only, I know many who enjoy collecting games, I also know many who don’t lend their friends games. I think, unfortunately, people love to hate on the big guy, so Microsoft was the flavour of the week, thus causing them to roll over and submit any ideas of DRM protection.
As for the always-on Internet connection, which was also cancelled, I feel that this could have made the Xbox One much better. Let’s take Crackdown 3 into account. When players dive online, players can fully destroy the world without overheating their Xbox One thanks to the power of the cloud. It’s this massive event which happens server-wide. But this can only be limited to the multiplayer version as Microsoft know players will be online during this mode.
If the always-on Internet requirement remained on the Xbox One, I’m sure players – even in the single player campaign – could have made the most of The Cloud’s processing power. Unfortunately, due to many more complaints, that’s not an option any more.
Of course, I have no idea if this was Microsoft’s actual plan with the always-on connection, but it seems like a pretty good implementation of the feature.
Also, I understand that my situation I mentioned above is almost ideal, but for those without a solid Internet Connection and those who like to lend games to friends and other family members, these features are far from perfect, and in some cases could have been a deal breaker.
Unfortunately, Microsoft backtracked on those ideas, as well as backtracking on the Kinect (which is yet to actually get any decent games worth plugging the peripheral in), and finally lowering the price to something more affordable. Should Microsoft have launched the Xbox One at a reasonable price both with and without the Kinect? (it’s worth noting that almost every bundle launched since the day-one console has come without a Kinect), should Microsoft have at least given those controversial features more of a chance before just putting its tail between its legs?
My answer to both of those questions, as a gamer, is yes. But as someone with a slight knowledge of the gaming industry, I think they should have launched two bundles, one with and one without the Kinect, at a fairly reasonable price point (£399 / £350 respectively), this gives Microsoft a chance to then cut the price over the course of the following two years to what the console is currently sitting at.
As a talking point, what do you think? Would Microsoft have more of a fighting chance if they launched the Xbox of today in 2013? Share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter!