Happy New Year! And Now, The Best Of Game Front In 2013

Xbox One: The Gift That Kept on Giving

Perhaps the most fun we had this year came courtesy of Microsoft, which gave itself an epic, self-inflicted black eye during the E3 cycle with the unveiling of a new console that contained loads of anti-consumer features. Microsoft chose to promote Xbox One via a combination of obstinately ignoring customer opinion and giving tone-deaf reactions to real concerns. It then spent the summer quietly walking all of that back after the reaction it received was as hostile as anything we’ve seen since Mass Effect 3. As we watched Microsoft gradually began to reverse course from the arrogance it displayed in June, we also delivered some of Game Front’s strongest work.

Xbox One: Early Troubling Rumbles

When reports began to surface in April that Xbox One would, among other things, require a persistent Internet connection, we laid into the absurdity of that requirement by revisiting an article from 2012. In short, the US and much of the world lacks the infrastructure needed for always-online to work, and that’s not even getting into the numerous socioeconomic barriers to such a scheme.

Of course, once Xbox One was officially unveiled, we learned the new console was designed to be even worse than we thought. As part of our coverage of that fustercluck, Ron Whitaker explained why the console’s attempt to destroy used gaming was a terrible idea.

Read our coverage here: Always-Online Xbox Console: An Insane Idea, and Killing Used Games Won’t Help Gamers – It’ll Hurt.

Don Mattrick’s departure from Xbox

In the month between the reveal of Xbox One and Microsoft’s embarrassing E3 appearance, Microsoft President of the Interactive Business Don Mattrick became the face of the company’s tone-deaf approach and the focus of derision and, occasionally, outrage from the gaming community and even the US Military. It therefore wasn’t a total shock when his departure from the company was announced less than one month after E3.

Read our coverage of the drama: Don Mattrick Leaves Microsoft to Become Zynga CEO; Steve Ballmer on Don Mattrick’s Departure, Xbox One Strategy

Microsoft Reverses Course On Xbox One Policies. A lot.

Of course, the biggest Xbox One story unfolded after E3 and Mattrick’s depature, as one by one, the most obnoxious, anti-consumer policies baked into Xbox One were gradually removed. This was great news for consumers, but it also generated a fierce debate among the gaming community.

For our part, early on we took aim at the absurd suggestion that by acquiescing to clear consumer demand, Microsoft had hurt the industry.

Read it here: No, Xbox One’s DRM Reversal Didn’t Doom the Industry here.

After a couple of more reversals, Phil Hornshaw raised the interesting concern that the company’s sudden and frequent backtracking suggests a less than trustworthy relationship with its customers.

Read it here: Microsoft’s Changing Policies Show Lack of Xbox One Conviction.

And finally, after Microsoft revealed that Kinect could be deactivated without bricking Xbox One, we examined three possibilities for the company’s next big 180, and tried to predict which was the most likely one. SPOILER ALERT: we actually picked the wrong one.

Read it here: So, What Will The Next Xbox One Reversal Be?

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