Looking Back at the Xbox One’s Launch, I Don’t Think it was All That Bad

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.

Looking Back at the Xbox One’s Launch, I Don’t Think it was All That Bad - n3rdabl3

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.

Looking Back at the Xbox One’s Launch, I Don’t Think it was All That Bad - n3rdabl3

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.

Looking Back at the Xbox One’s Launch, I Don’t Think it was All That Bad - n3rdabl3

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!

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damian
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damian

Finally! I've been saying it since day one. I would like to add that "lending" was a feature of internet check in. You could have swapped digital content with friends on your list. Just could not sell. I had zero objections at the time and still don't. My Xbox stays connected all of the time. I have one disc game…i pack up my Xbox or log in somewhere else and my stuff goes with me. I was honestly upset they backpeddled. I refused to buy for about 9 months.Sony was the stronger game platform. I was more interested in the… Read more »

andy
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andy

Like I said in my other comment No game streaming, no game trials, no Free2Play games (Killer Instinct is fine because Microsoft can control it like the size of the game for instance but the 20gbs likes of Warframe was a NO GO), no monthly free games. Now can you actually imagine what Xbone would have been like if they actually went ahead with the whole always online thing too??? After cutting back and soft launching all these features throughout 2014? They were "forced" to do nothing. THEY simply were not ready themselves. Xbox Live finally did all these things… Read more »

damian
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damian

I must have imagined playing titan fall and watch dogs. I believe Psn has experienced the same outage issues that Xbox live has and the games still work even if multiplayer is down. "All the time" isn't worth addressing, it's not all the time The infrastructure WAS there. It just took developers time to make the games to leverage it. There was no "soft launch" as you put it. I will take your word for warframe not being playable for 10 months because Microsoft had problems, but I can't see that anywhere. I would assume the developer just didn't bother… Read more »

Mikey
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Mikey

I bought the original xbox and xbox 360 – both at launch. I STILL miss my 360. OUr household actually had three of them. They replaced DVD players in every TV in our house. When the Xbox One launched – bought it at launch as well. I tried to like it. I really did. My family hated that stupid box. The TV interface was wonky, the voice controls were a near joke. I do not know where they tested these features, but I can guarantee that it wasn't in a living room with casual conversation going on in the background… Read more »

damian
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damian

You bring up great points. I understand how frustrating it can be when things don't work as advertised. Data mining and ecosystems built around platforms is not a Microsoft exclusive trait though. Everyone does it, almost to the same extent. Content is an XBox Live issue.I see the same stuff on both 360 and One. Most of my games work fine off-line, some content may be missing from a few games. I have never had problems running campaigns though, certainly not to the extent that the console is useless without internet (for my gotta have movies and music I just… Read more »

Lennox
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Lennox

I know I'm in the minority, but I was so excited for always online. The backlash made me realize one thing though. As an Xbox gamer, I realize that the Xbox fanbase isn't as loyal as the PS fanbase. When MS does something a bit "controversial," it's straight to another console. When Sony does something of the same ilk, the fan base will ride the wave and defend it even.

damian
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damian

Amen! Microsoft has some of the best engineers on the planet but they hire the worst pr marketing people ever. Almost every product can be traced back to Microsoft products and patents. They are just super uncool about presenting it and always seem to rush products out the door like a year early, and it shows. I support Microsoft because I love the engineering. Yes other companies do the same thing, some even better, but I know Microsoft products play VERY nice with each other and honestly they try hard to work with stuff outside the ecosystem when they can.… Read more »

Jecht_Sin
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Jecht_Sin

If MS has some of the best engineers on the planet, while every other release of Windows sucks badly?

damian
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damian

Sucking because you don't like it or agree with it doesn't make it broken. If you don't like windows logic then use Linux or apple's stuff. Just know windows 7 was extremely popular. As was 98.
Microsoft makes 24 billion dollars in 90 days…its not because they build crappy stuff.

jb227
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jb227

So many statements about how all of these points wouldn't have bothered you, what about the perspective of people who do sell their games back in order to purchase new ones, what about the perspective of people who don't have steady stable blazing internet connections that would prefer offline single player campaigns that weren't reliant on a connection at all? At the end of the day, the biggest factor of all of this isn't whether or not MS should've ignored a vast swath of their community and pushed forward w/ their original vision, it's the sheer fact that they didn't… Read more »

damian
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damian

The perspective of the people that didn't want what Microsoft was offering was heard. No one is discounting their position. The voice of the article was the marginalized voice. The ddos attack DID leave everyone in the cold even after backing off from the once a day connection rule. The platform took forever to mature because they had to go back and start from scratch right at launch. The product they released wasn't what they planned on doing.they spent the last two years reworking and making amends for ticking gamers off. So no they didn't have a lot of time… Read more »

jb227
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jb227

That's all understandable but if the XBO was married to this vision that required a persistent connection for cloud gaming capabilities & Kinect for its motion gaming capabilities, then it needed to launch w/ titles that made unique uses for those. We will be 3 years or more into this console cycle before the cloud is properly demonstrated in a unique & noticeable way & we still haven't seen a single Kinect gaming title that has really pushed the uses for the technology beyond menu navigation. It's not really a chicken or egg scenario, if MS was going to create… Read more »

damian
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damian

They were not married to it. That's the point of this article…they abandoned it. Basically started from the ground up with a different platform at launch. The platform would have moved farther along that track if they had not gone back to zero. Consumers rejected Xbox before they even saw it. They rejected windows 8. So game developers had nothing to work on. No one was going to build out an infrastructure for a always online experience for a windows 8 world because no one wanted it. So they went back and came up with you don't have to be… Read more »

jb227
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jb227

I understand where you are coming from but Xbox had already revealed the titles that would be launched w/ the XBO when they announced their initial vision. All I am saying is that if they wanted to push that vision and if it would somehow have been a worthwhile prospect, they needed to prove that at launch as opposed to asking gamers to give them the benefit of a doubt that it would all pan out for the best. If I'm not mistaken they pulled the idea of always online just a scant few months before launch, not like that… Read more »

damian
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damian

Gotcha, that's a fair point, and i agree with the argument that Microsoft pr and marketing are just plain awful. Again, just to clarify, it really isn't up to Xbox division what is made and when, by developers. You are correct they could have waited a year until they released or secured a deal before going live with ryse and zoo tycoon (and that's all). Anyways, enjoyed talking with you. It sure beasts "ummmm your stupid". Have a good weekend.

jb227
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jb227

Haha no joke, there are far too many of those immature exchanges in online discussions, it's nice talking to people who have an even handed interesting opinion on these subjects. Hope you have a good weekend too!

andy
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andy

No game streaming, no game trials, no Free2Play games (Killer Instinct is fine because Microsoft can control it like the size of the game for instance but the 20gbs likes of Warframe was a NO GO), no monthly free games.

It wasn't exactly an impressive console launch either now was it???