It’s only been 4 years since the official launch of the original Xbox One and yet so much has changed in the eyes of gamers.
Prior to launch, Microsoft detailed a vision for the Xbox One living room experience that was firmly cemented in an always online, DRM ridden landscape.
With this vision would come complete non-ownership in the form of digital rights license checks every 24 hours. In a word, it was incredibly anti-consumerist and a slap to the face of players who bolstered the Xbox brand generations prior.
To the surprise of no one, gamers completed rejected this doomsday scenario and took to the internet to voice their concerns. Almost immediately, Microsoft backtracked on their initial plan but like a cigarette, the bad taste lingered on.
Slowly, the Xbox brand’s image reversed in a way that had players looking at the console as a viable purchase – something they could see themselves purchasing and actually enjoying.
Passing the Corporate Shtick
The Don Mattrick era of the Xbox One is when things began their fiery decent into a collective attitude of anger.
And his new vision for the brand unfortunately bled to those who worked with the press, a vision that was all too hard to spin into a positive light.
Take the /r/Games interview below, for example. I was recently reacquainted with this interview thanks to a thread posted on ResetEra and it shows all too well the unsettling tone set by the initial unveiling.
Major Nelson, the handle for Xbox’s chief PR guy, is trying his best here to spin the unveiling in a way that seems like anything remotely resembling a positive message.
But you don’t have to glean over much of this interview in order to see that he’s in a tight spot. It’s honestly hard to watch more than a minute or two.
What’s most unbelievable about this initial flailing isn’t the massive whiff itself but rather the fact that Xbox as a brand rebounded afterwards.
It took some time, sure, but today the Xbox stands on its merits as a video game console rather than poorly misguided messaging.
And a lot of this is due to a man named Phil Spencer, the current Executive Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft. To put it simply, Spencer really came into the Xbox division and did things right.
In 2014, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, announced that Spencer was to lead the Xbox division and since then he has made all of the right moves towards bettering player reception.
I still have my reservations about the Xbox One, namely concerning exclusives, but I have a lot of respect for the tides Microsoft has turned and remain cautiously optimistic that things will continue to improve.
Provided Phil Spencer continues to put the focus on games the lead in and start of the next generation Xbox could have a lot in store. More importantly, Microsoft could avoid the shackles of another PR fallout.