My Conflicted Thoughts on Microsoft

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So, I have pretty much missed out on a lot of the stuff going on with the Microsoft console, Xbox One. I have been rather harsh with how Microsoft has handled itself as a game console company and game provider, compared to what Nintendo and Sony have done. All three have business decisions that I think they need to change, but for one reason or another, Microsoft has disappointed me the most. Now, that isn’t to say they are the worst company in the gaming industry, because EA, Activision, Valve, and Warner Bros. have those spots on lockdown.

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Now, there are some things that I think Microsoft has done that are way better than most of the game companies. For one, I’m glad they are open to cross-platform play alongside Nintendo. It makes me happy that even if I didn’t have an Xbox One, I could still play games like Minecraft, Rocket League, and Fortnite with my friend Ian in Seattle. I think it’s the healthiest thing for all three big console makers to make cross-platform play across all three systems for the future and beyond until we make a one-in-all console. I also love that Microsoft has started to cater to a crowd with multiple alternative controllers for gamers who have disabilities. It’s something I’m so surprised Nintendo and Sony haven’t thought about doing. Not every gamer is able-bodied, and it would mean a lot if all three console makers were, you know, aware of that. Let’s also give Microsoft kudos that they are the only console to have proper backwards compatibility with older games from their previous consoles. I also like the Game Pass service. If I wanted to check out a game that I may have held back on, I’ll check it out this way. They also allow the modding community more freedom for games, like Fallout and Skyrim, something Sony is woefully shooting itself in the foot with. While they stepped with the wrong foot forward multiple times at the beginning of this console generation, with how anti-consumer the console was supposed to be, I do respect that they pretty much did not go through with the original plans for the Xbox One. That console would have been a nightmare and a half to deal with it, and I’m glad they backed down on the DRM and anti-consumer stuff.

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With all that said, Microsoft, what in tarnation were you thinking at the beginning with the Xbox One? While Sony and Nintendo were making sure you had a pro-consumer game console to play games on, you were going in the alternative direction that was going to make you the villain of the entire console generation. Sure, Sony still has stupid anti-cross-platform play practice, and Nintendo has those stupid copyright fetishes on YouTube, and a real lack of how to properly use the online cloud for gaming, but at least they weren’t trying to lock away games to the consoles, forced DRM and always-online connectivity, forced use of the Kinect, and look like the absolute worst console and company back in 2013. Oh, and good job on having a talking mouthpiece tell people that if they couldn’t afford the original Xbox One, that they could get an Xbox 360. Whoever thought that was a good idea has no sympathy from me if they lost their job, because of that train of thought.

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Let’s also look at their other biggest failing, their first-party exclusives. Back when the original Xbox was released, it had a slew of first and second-party titles that were varied in not only quality, but experiences. As time went on, and we went into the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, that variety started to dry up, because apparently Microsoft thinks it’s like Nickelodeon, and if it’s not Gears of War, Forza, or Halo, it’s an instant failure. Sure, other companies pull from the well multiple times, but Sony and Nintendo aren’t doing it as much as Microsoft. It seems like every year, there is going to be another Forza that’s going to gate off content behind microtransactions, which is disgusting. Why would you act like your first-party games are games from EA, Ubisoft, or Activision Blizzard? That makes them highly unappealing to me. They also happen to be not as well received as the first-party titles from Sony and Nintendo. Microsoft simply lacks variety, and they almost solved that problem a few years ago with games like Phantom Dust 2 and Scalebound, but either didn’t know what to exactly do with them or the developers that they had working on the console. Sure, they have a few games that stand out like Rare Replay, Cuphead, Sunset Overdrive, and Ori and the Blind Forest, but that’s simply not enough. Oh, and State of Decay 2 doesn’t count, because no one is talking about it. It’s like, not marketing your game, or making a sequel that doesn’t improve much will burn players. I want Microsoft to go back to having a bunch of different experiences, like they did with their first console. I want them to stop thinking like a third-party publisher, because up until recently, they have been doing a bad job at that, while Sony and Nintendo, despite their own faults, have been offering varying and high quality gaming experiences with the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, with their exclusives. Games like Sea of Thieves should have been a huge hit, and while they have added more content since its release, it should have been with that content day one! And yes, if Sony and Nintendo did this for their major games, I would call them out as well. There is also the concern about how they recently purchased a bunch of game developers, like Ninja Theory. Some of them were already making Microsoft-exclusive games, but you hope Microsoft doesn’t go EA on them. Just let them do what they do best, and the games will speak for themselves. If they knew what they were doing with Platinum Games’ Scalebound, they would know that they are a studio that works better with fast-paced action and smooth framerates. They are not ones to put a heavy emphasis on graphics and multi-player. Oh, and you sort of need major titles to show off your super console The Xbox One X, because, well, people lose interest very quickly if it becomes clear that there is nothing more than pretty graphics in a game. Oh, and no one really cares about 4K gaming.

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Despite all my issues with them, I am going to get an Xbox One S so I can play Fallout 76 with my best friend, because Microsoft still does a lot of things right, and they warrant an Xbox One purchase. I just hope they actually put in more effort to make more varied first/second-party experiences with as much focus and effort they put into their Gears, Forza, and Halo franchise. I don’t want them to fail, but I also want them to start doing better. It’s like how Sony needs to stop being so arrogant about their console, and Nintendo needs to catch the heck up to how people want full cloud support, and to stop with the YouTube copyright! Overall, just make more than just racing and shooter games, Microsoft. That is pretty much all that I ask!