It’s fairly safe to say that Microsoft was really, really not expecting what’s been going down over the last twenty-four hours or so. Mocking supercuts, angry fans, and a litany of bad press is not generally something a video game console maker wants to see dominating the news cycle. So, what went wrong, why, and can it be fixed?
Sins Of Omission
Likely the biggest problem was the fact that Microsoft left a lot of points out of its presentation. Many of the unpopular features that were only rumored, such as “always-on” connections, how it handles used games, and potential hardware issues such as a hard drive you can’t remove, are in fact real.
However, instead of confronting this issue head-on at the press event, Microsoft only discussed it on pieces separate from the launch announcement hype. It was an honest attempt to present difficult information directly, but it came off, quite a bit, like Microsoft was attempting to bury it. This didn’t earn the company many friends, and that may come back to bite it with the wider audience as time goes on.
Microsoft has been in full damage control, and it’s highlighted some cracks in how the company handles PR. Executives say one thing: Twitter accounts say another. Claims are made only to be walked back, only to be made again. Honestly, it gives the impression nobody quite knows what’s going on, and the fact that these people want to put a camera that is always on in your living room does not inspire confidence.
The presentation itself was problematic as well. For example, the Xbox One seems to be offering a used game trading system that may be quite neat, and may help ease concerns about losing access to used game sales from GameStop. But the system was not discussed and there’s been little follow-up about it from Microsoft.
A Lack Of Forethought
The fact that the presentation was streamed live on 360s, only to have the Kinect hooked up to those 360s shut it down every time somebody presenting said “Xbox”, really says it all. Microsoft didn’t think through a fair number of points in its presentation and how they went over. Depending on who you ask, they didn’t think that hard about the name of this console, either.
There are other problems, as well. It seems to be a very, very bad idea to include a high-resolution webcam and Skype into millions of American homes, considering how popular the service is for… how do we put this… adult behavior. It’s hard to dismiss consumer concerns over having an always-on webcam in their home, and if the console is misused, Microsoft may find itself dragged into fairly sordid court cases.
We may tease Microsoft or express concern over the Xbox One, but the truth is, if a console fails, it’ll be bad for gamers. Publishers will lose money, development studios will close, competition will dwindle, and franchises will be lost. So, for gaming’s sake, we hope Microsoft can right the ship. The Xbox One may have a hard road to walk, but it should be allowed to walk it.