Can Microsoft Redeem Itself at E3? Game Front Weighs In
What a bizarre Tuesday it was for the gaming press. During the big reveal of the new Xbox One — livestreamed from Microsoft’s pleasuredome in Redmond, Wash. — the console maker presented a very specific narrative for its next-gen Xbox, a narrative intentionally focused on hardware and dashboard functionality. We saw very little about games, but we sort of knew that going in. All the game stuff will be revealed at Microsoft’s June 10 press conference, right before E3 kicks off.
So it was a hardware/features conference, no games yet. Got it. But why didn’t we get answers to basic, critical questions about the device’s DRM, always-on internet requirement, used games policy, or app store?
What we did get was a bunch of hot air about how Xbox One enables “Intelligent TV.” You “surf” the Xbox dashboard’s apps via Kinect’s voice commands, search the Internet via Bing, make video calls via Skype. Neat. And Stephen Spielberg is making a Halo TV show exclusively for Xbox One. Nice! (Read our full rundown of the conference here.)
This all seemed fine, but, frankly, no one bought the controlled narrative. The story of the day wasn’t Microsoft’s explanation of a kick-ass living room with a gaming-console-turned-media-center; it was about those very basic, critical, and unanswered questions mentioned above. Game Front staff spent all day yesterday chasing down answers to those questions, which was (frankly) exhausting, and kind of frustrating.
TL;DR: The Xbox One reveal was a mess of a conference, and not because of the conference itself (which was sort of “Cool, guess it’s neat…”). It was because the reveal’s aftermath, during which Microsoft failed to clearly explain core functionality and meet rumors with tangible facts.
So, how can Microsoft turn things around at E3? Let’s go around the Game Front staff and talk about it. And of course, dearest readers, chime in below in the comments.
The Need for Clarity
Microsoft has dug a pretty big hole for itself by simply being really bad at messaging. To turn it around, it has to absolutely nail E3. Not only does Microsoft need to show a big focus on games, but it needs to demonstrate that it understands how much confusion the reveal of the Xbox One created. It needs to plainly address the big outstanding issues: Used games, shared games and always-on internet. If there’s any ambiguity after the show, then Microsoft has failed.
Ian Miles Cheong
To redeem itself, Microsoft needs to come clean and clear up the confusion with all of the issues surrounding used games, and online connectivity requirements. Not just that—the answers need to satisfy us, as well. There’s little point in having Microsoft admit that they’re screwing over anyone who can’t connect to the internet once a day, nor is there any point in them admitting that the console doesn’t offer support for used games. The one thing they need to do is not double down on their marketing speech. Stating that the system supports used games if the second user pays the full price for the game is just a roundabout way of saying “No, we don’t support used games.”