The Xbox One reveal event that took place in May began a rocky relationship between gamers and Microsoft. The presentation’s heavy focus on TV features and sports made hardcore gamers feel out of place. Even the portion of the unveiling focusing on Call of Duty Ghosts turned out to be the butt of Internet jokes as Riley the dog (yes, a video game dog) was portrayed as a crowning next-gen achievement. With little actual information on the console announced, Microsoft left the Xbox One event with no positive momentum and several unanswered questions.
The Xbox One-80
When Xbox One hit store shelves in November, it was a much different version from what Microsoft originally announced. After remaining mum about console features following the unveiling, Microsoft announced major Xbox One details in June. The console was designed to feature regular online connection checks, day one digital releases and game sharing options. The always-online, digital structure did not sit well with the public, which vigorously stood up against Microsoft.
Despite a consistent message that the company could not simply “flip a switch” and change Xbox One policies, Microsoft responded to consumer feedback and dropped DRM policies within days. The console would no longer require an online check every 24 hours and used games would function without a hiccup. Microsoft also reluctantly opened its arms to indie developers by allowing self-publishing on Xbox One, making every Xbox One available to use a dev kit. Several popular indie studios, including Capybara Games and Double Fine, joined the ID@Xbox program to bring games to the console.
After changing DRM policies and attitudes towards indie games, Microsoft began to earn trust back from the gaming public. However, the company suffered one loss along the bumpy road to launch. Xbox President Don Mattrick left Microsoft in July for a top role at Zynga.
Xbox One Launch
Despite the series of controversial events between the Xbox One’s reveal and eventual release, the console’s November launch was smooth. Xbox Live provides a solid, stable online connection that experienced few issues at launch. The new edition of the Kinect was a marked improvement over its predecessor. Features aside from gaming, which originally drew scorn, have mostly been viewed as positive although there is room for improvement.
However, not all the features Microsoft touted were available at launch and remain unavailable. While the console continues to evolve through updates, new apps and a growing digital store, selling features and experiences that are “coming soon” only draws ire from impatient gamers.
Xbox Year One
While Microsoft turns the page to 2014, Xbox One is still in its first year. The company expects major titles such as Project Spark and Titanfall to hook gamers while experiences like live-action series based on Ryse and Halo will keep them plugged into a single input. At one point, Microsoft had been knocked down, but the company was resilient. Now, with more than 3 million Xbox One units sold in 2013, the key will be to take the positive momentum and run with it.