In early 2013, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was still more popular than the PlayStation 3. Not only was it competitive in sales, but the Xbox brand had gaming’s evangelists — the so-called “core” gaming audience — on its side.
But in May 2013, Microsoft introduced the Xbox One in a press briefing at its Redmond, Washington headquarters. It did not go well.
“That Xbox One Reveal Sure Was A Disaster, Huh?” wrote Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett at the time. An edited “supercut” version of the Xbox One reveal even went viral — it offers a stunning look into how Microsoft screwed up the launch of the Xbox One so very badly:
Here are some highlights of the disastrous introduction of the Xbox One:
-The Xbox One would require a persistent internet connection. -The Xbox One wouldn’t play used games — you’d put in a disc, install it to the console’s hard drive, take out the disc and it would effectively be useless. -Every Xbox One would come with a Kinect motion sensor. -The Xbox One cost $500 at launch, $100 more than the PlayStation 4.
Between unclear messaging (Microsoft flip-flopped on the first two of those four bullets), a major push into non-gaming applications (the Xbox One has an HDMI-in port, so you can plug your cable box right into it), and an incredibly high price point ($500!), Xbox fans were angry.
Can you blame them? Microsoft introduced a video game console that wasn’t focused on video games. The company demonstrated repeatedly that it wasn’t listening to its most core consumers, and in doing so lost a lot of early momentum.
Soon after, Microsoft’s then-Xbox leader Don Mattrick took to the company’s Xbox blog to roll back major features of the Xbox One that people were upset about. One month later, Mattrick was out at Microsoft, quickly replaced by longtime Xbox exec Marc Whitten. Another nine months later, and Microsoft would replace Whitten with current Xbox leader Phil Spencer.
And in the years since, under Spencer, Microsoft’s Xbox group has changed course.
As a result of a variety of initiatives, the Xbox One has become a more appealing platform. And as the current gaming generation draws to a close across the next few years, the changes reflect Microsoft smartly setting itself up for the next generation of gaming.