Last year, Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One to an eager public, and disappointed one and all with what seemed to be a baffling, inordinate focus on… TV. To be specific, somewhat interactive television, with your Xbox One console acting as the unifying force between all your sources of TV entertainment.
Well, in what is becoming somewhat of a trend for them, Microsoft now seems to be backtracking a bit. In an interview with OXM, Elen Lee, Xbox Entertainment’s head honcho, stated that interactive TV was perhaps not the future after all.
“Television is not broken right now. Television is better than it’s ever been. We have better stories. We’re figuring out delivery mechanisms. It’s amazing. So to come in and say, “Let’s fix television!” is a terrifying prospect. We don’t want to fix something that’s not broken,” he said.
“So I’ve learned to respect the audience for what they’re already good at,” he continued. “They’re good at being passive. They’re good at experiencing TV shows that way. Let’s not fix that part.
“If you imagine a spectrum, on the left is video games, and on the right is television. Left, completely active. Right, completely passive. What we’re experimenting with now is, we know there’s this craving for something in the middle.
“We know we want our video games to be more like TV, because those narratives are so compelling. We know we want our TV to be more like video games, because we want to feel more empowered over the story. We want to be able to poke at it and get more out of it. But if you look at that spectrum, all of the different experiments you can place on that scale somewhere.
“I believe the future is not in the middle. It’s much closer to the TV side. It’s not pegged out on the passive end, but it’s a few steps to the left of TV. It’s mostly passive, with a few interactive components that are a really easy ramp into the experience, a really low barrier to entry. Again, don’t break TV. Suggest enhancements that are optional if you want them.”
It sounds rather confusing to me, to be honest, and his notions of mostly passive video games that resemble TV shows, frankly, scares me. Then again, I guess it can be argued that this is exactly what Ryse: Son of Rome was (a game that famously, literally, plays itself), so this isn’t exactly a stance that Microsoft chose to adopt out of the left field either.