Mirosoft seem to have learned a lot from their mistakes.
Though they have done incredible work to set up a solid foundation for the years ahead over the last few years, Microsoft made a lot of mistakes throughout the course of the Xbox One era, many of which proved to be quite costly for them. With the upcoming Xbox Series X/S though, they’re looking to build on all the work they’ve been doing in recent years to turn things around for themselves, and so far, there’s a lot of reasons to be optimistic. The way Microsoft are handling the launch of the Xbox Series X/S and the things they are promising for the years ahead have given us plenty of confidence that the fourth generation of Xbox is going to go much better than its third.
In this feature, we’re going to talk about some of the biggest ways Microsoft are avoiding some of the biggest mistakes with the Xbox Series X/S that they made with the Xbox One.
FOCUSING ON GAMES
Before the Xbox One launched, Microsoft’s pre-launch marketing and messaging was kind of all over the place (and we’ll be going over a few other aspects in a bit). One of the things that rubbed a lot of prospective buyers the wrong way was the way Microsoft was positioning the console as a multimedia center, with an excessive focus on sports and TV apps and what have you.
There was nothing particularly wrong with those things- the issue was that the one thing Microsoft didn’t talk about nearly as much as they should have was games. With the Xbox Series X/S, that hasn’t been an issue. Sure, we haven’t seen an awful lot of gameplay even now, especially for dedicated next-gen games, but as far as how Microsoft are billing and marketing the console are concerned, the focus is very much on the games themselves.
FIRST PARTY SUPPORT
Microsoft’s first party output hasn’t been anything to write home about since they day they entered the console market, and got progressively worse during the Xbox One years. With the upcoming generation, however, it’s shaping up to be in the best shape of its life. Once the ZeniMax deal goes through, they will have nearly two dozen first party studios, and the potential of that first party pipeline is salivating. From RPGs to first person shooters, from racing games to open world adventures, the range of content that Microsoft looks set to deliver is more than enough reason to be excited about the next generation of Xbox.
PLENTY OF GAMES ANNOUNCED ALREADY
Here’s the thing about Microsoft’s first party output- we already have a pretty solid idea of what the next few years are going to look like in terms of first party content coming to Xbox. Halo Infinite, Everwild, Forza Motorsport, Fable, Avowed, State of Decay 3, and Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 are all currently in development and primed to hit the Xbox Series X and Series S some time within the next couple of years. Meanwhile, there’s also a pretty good chance that The Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield will end up being Xbox console exclusives.
VALUE FOR MONEY
The Xbox One had so much going against it at launch, some of which we’ve talked about and plenty of which we’ll be talking about soon, and all of that collectively meant that for many, it was hard to justify a purchase of the console- it just didn’t offer enough value for money. It’s a problem that Microsoft seemed hellbent on addressing with the Xbox Series X/S, and Game Pass has proven to be their incredible solution to this problem. With a compelling and diverse catalog of games that keeps on improving and the promise of day and date access to all first party releases for very reasonable subscription prices, Xbox Game Pass is, in no vague terms, reason on its own to get an Xbox.
Japanese support has sort of been an Achilles’ heel for Xbox for as long as Xbox has been a thing. To their credit, Microsoft at least made some effort to tackle that problem during the Xbox 360 years- before reverting to doing nothing once again with the Xbox One, which even launched in Japan almost a full year after it released worldwide. It remains to be seen how successful the upcoming Xbox consoles will end up being in Japan, but so far, it seems like Microsoft are at least making some effort to gain more of a foothold in the market.
The two consoles launch simultaneously worldwide, for starters, while the recent Xbox releases of Japanese games that have traditionally been exclusive to PlayStation – such as Dragon Quest and Yakuza – have also been great to see. Meanwhile, with Tango Gameworks, Microsoft will soon also have a Japanese first party developer, so maybe that’s something they could use to their advantage.
Microsoft have been pushing for backward compatibility for a few years now, so this was a mistake they corrected with the Xbox One itself. The difference now, however, is that they are entering next-gen with plenty of momentum. No one is going to buy an Xbox Series X or Series S just to play games from previous generations, of course, but having the option to access thousands of games from across three console generations the moment you take your new console out of your box is a big, big boost. Add to that the Series X and Series S’ ability to natively enhance older games in various ways, from boosting frame rates to even adding HDR, and its backward compatibility features become even more impressive.
The PS4 and Xbox One were both outdated pieces of machinery even when they launched, and of those two, the Xbox One was the weaker console. With the Xbox One X in 2017, Microsoft made a pretty clear statement that developing powerful, impressive hardware was going to be important to them going forward. The Xbox Series X definitely falls in line with that approach, and offers extremely impressive specs, even for its price of $500. It remains to be seen whether or not the significantly underpowered Xbox Series S will end up holding next-gen hardware back in the long run, but here’s hoping that doesn’t end up being the case.
One of the biggest blunders Microsoft made with the Xbox One’s pre-launch marketing was proudly announcing their heavy online restrictions and requirements. They rightly received a great deal of flak for it, and even though they ended up doing a 180 on that pretty quickly, most of the damage had already been done by that point, and the Xbox One never quite managed to recover from that bad press. Microsoft have, to their credit, adopted a pretty consumer-friendly approach with Xbox in previous years, and they’re keeping it going with next-gen, with what has mostly been pretty clear messaging. It’s fair to say that they’ve learned from their mistakes.
The Xbox One’s DRM policies weren’t the only thing the console was lambasted for before its release. Something else Microsoft emphasized way, way more than they should have was the Kinect. The periphery never really managed to impress the masses in its Xbox 360 years, but for some reason, Microsoft decided to turn it into a crucial, almost necessary part of the Xbox One experience with Kinect 2.0. No matter how heavily they tried to push it though, it failed, as it was doomed to. Kinect blessedly faded away from existence, and the Xbox Series X and Series S are going to be launching Kinect-free.
SHARING AND CAPTURING
This isn’t nearly as big of an issue as most (if not all) things we’ve discussed in this feature- it’s more of an annoyance, but one that bears mentioning nonetheless. Unlike the PS4 and the DualShock 4’s Share button, the Xbox One didn’t exactly launch with the best sharing and capturing features, and still lags behind Sony’s console. The Xbox Series X and S, however, are launching with dedicated capturing and sharing features that, based on what Microsoft have revealed of them, look exactly as convenient and easy to use as they should be- thanks in large part to the new Xbox controller’s Share button, of course.
Here’s yet another blunder Microsoft made with the Xbox One at launch- releasing it at a price of $499. Sure, the Xbox Series X is priced at $499 as well, but unlike the Xbox One, the Series X has impressive, powerful hardware, it isn’t launching in the shadow of excessive bad press, it offers incredible value with Game Pass, and it already has a lot of announced upcoming games that look promising. Then there’s the Xbox Series S to consider, which might have weaker hardware, but offers access into next-gen and all of its games at a very reasonable price of $299. On top of that, Microsoft is also offering the Xbox All-Access installation payment program in twelve countries, which makes next-gen even more easily accessible.