Easily one of the most reviled things to come out of E3 in a long time, Microsoft's
last presentation of Xbox One earned it a lot of negative press, a lot of backpedaling, and a lot of confusion. But recently, Xbox One's chief product officer sat down with IGN and pulled a bit of a post-mortem on what went wrong. As it turns out, there's lesson here for everybody.
One of the biggest points that Marc Whitten, chief product officer on the Xbox One, wanted to underscore was that Microsoft needed to "just talk more, get people understanding what our system is." This is a very good point, but it only goes so far. See, much of what I remember hearing about--and indeed, writing about--in the time up to the E3 showdown was in terms of what was being taken away. Used games, kaput. Rental games, done like dinner. The ability to play the stupid thing without an Internet
connection, tout fini. When the primary marketing message is "We're taking away many of the things you love, and stop whining!" it's not going to exactly win friends and influence people.
It's not so much that people are afraid of change, but rather that they're afraid of change that doesn't have clear benefit to them. If the government came out tomorrow and said that the private automobile was banned, there'd be an uproar the like of which you've never heard. But if the government came out tomorrow and said the private automobile was banned because the government was instead issuing every tax-paying household its own personal hovercraft, well, there'd be celebration the like of which you've never heard.
By way of comparison, Microsoft announced that the private automobile was banned, and instead would offer up a speedboat. Great, if you happen to live anywhere near a body of water and said body of water connects to all the places you want to go, but for everybody in, say, rural Kansas, they were getting tossed under the bus like a cigarette butt. Indeed, Microsoft had some exciting concepts: the Family Sharing feature, and even digital delivery to a certain extent. But the Family Sharing feature is said to be making something of a comeback, and that's suggesting that some of Microsoft's promised features will be making a comeback, on at least some level, while preserving the current gaming system according to the feedback derived from gamers in recent days.
The things that Microsoft was looking to do desperately needed perspective. As the Adam Orth affair clearly illustrated, the gamers know what the gamers want, and giving them any less isn't going to help in the long run. With some time yet to go before the consoles finally hit shelves, there's a lot of room in the market yet for change. It's going to be interesting to see just what finally comes out, and just how the next generation of the console wars
ultimately shapes up.