Phew, it’s been a tough year for Microsoft. What with the impending launch of their brand new console, you’d think that probably wouldn’t be the case. Well, unfortunately, this year has perhaps been one of the worst in Microsoft’s foray into the world of gaming.
Now, a little disclaimer is probably necessary here before we begin. I’ll no doubt get accused of being a Sony fanboy through and through for writing a piece about Microsoft’s terrible year, but this isn’t the case. I own both a PS3 and an Xbox 360 and before that I owned both an Xbox and PS2. In other words, I stake my gaming tent firmly in both camps. Got that? Jolly good.
But wow. Microsoft. 2013. What’s happened? As soon as they revealed their brand new, super-shiny console, the Xbox One, everything’s went from excitement to being buried under a pile of dung struggling to break out of the surface ever since. The marketing of the Xbox One has been absolutely abysmal. Microsoft wheeled a load of stuff that was confusing, didn’t seem great and proclaimed it to be the best thing in the universe and it has backfired massively on them.
Ever since the Xbox One’s reveal it has seemed as if Microsoft has been scrabbling to erase the past few months. Extremely unpopular decisions such as mysterious methods of blocking used games and the constant glaring eye of Kinect have all been thrown away onto the scrap heap in favour of a more gamer friendly system that basically includes nothing that was originally announced. It’s a better system now, there’s no doubt about that, but is it too little, too late for many who Microsoft has offended with their mentality over the past few months?
Personally it saddens me to see how anti-gamer Microsoft’s messaging has been over the past few months. As someone who loved the Xbox 360, seeing MS’s next foray into the gaming world kicking up a mass of horribleness in the months leading up to its release is painful. I’ve tried to remain as objective as I can in the build-up to the eventual release of the new console but the Xbox One still looks incredibly unattractive purely because of Microsoft’s messaging over the past few months.
Sony, meanwhile, has been lapping up every single bit of Microsoft’s press and turning it to their advantage. The PS4 is essentially the goldenboy of the gaming industry at the moment; whenever Microsoft opens their corporate mouth and puts their foot in it, Sony has always been there almost immediately afterwards to pick up the pieces and basically say ‘Yeah, you know how Microsoft’s done that? We haven’t.’
It’s a sad state of affairs really. Microsoft’s marketing of the Xbox One has been catastrophic. I’m honestly convinced that in years to follow, students will study these months as part of their marketing degrees and it’ll simply say ‘DON’T DO THIS’ on the powerpoint screens they’ll be watching. In a year where gamers are absolutely reaching fever pitch as they wait for the new consoles to come out, turning everybody off the new console in several fell swoops is a state of affairs that Microsoft never could have wanted.
I’m sure the internet is partly to blame for the massive backlash Microsoft has faced. On the internet us gamers tend to latch onto an idea and it grows into something massive and – in this case – always online, DRM restrictions and evil Kinect’s blossomed into what was hopefully going to be interest into massive disdain. You could say we’re partly to blame for fueling the fire, but Microsoft were the ones who lit the kindling in the first place.
Is this thing salvageable? Are Microsoft taking the right steps by reversing their decisions on DRM and other stuff? It’s certainly a step in the right direction, but for many, it’s too little, too late. You only have to glance at the comments around the net to see how many people are expressing love for the Playstation 4, and many times I’ve seen former Xbox 360 fanatics deciding to jump ship purely because of Microsoft’s presentation of the Xbox One.
I don’t believe that Microsoft are done yet. There’s still a few months to go before the release of the Xbox One and I have no doubt it’ll be one of this year’s Christmas big sellers. The only problem Microsoft faces at the moment is winning back the hearts of those gamers they’ve turned off. Some pretty big convincing needs to be done and with the shakeups in staff over at Microsoft, I’m really hoping they’re devising an excellent new marketing strategy to salvage this thing and pique interest once more.
I don’t want to see Microsoft’s new console fail. Nobody does really, even diehard Sony fans. Competition is great in the gaming world. It keeps us fighting over which console is greatest, gives us exclusive games we only get in certain places and offers unique experiences based on that companies’ focus. Admittedly MS’s focus for the next Xbox seemed more stalkery than superb, but their revisions to their strategy should still be appreciated. They have listened to what we’ve said and while it’s a contingency plan for them to make more money based on our wants, such is true of any other big company in the universe.
Even Sony are the same. They’ve learned from their mistakes with the PS3 and addressed them with the PS4, creating a console that’s designed to be friendly both for gamers and for gaming developers.
Microsoft have made massive mistakes this year. Here’s hoping that they’ve learned similar lessons to Sony and their messages in the future become much better.
What do you think? Can MS salvage their bad reputation and deliver an experience that we all want? Were you already excited and disagree with whatever I just said? Comment below and let us know your thoughts.
Oh and here’s a video of Steve Ballmer being Steve Ballmer. You know, just because.