Let’s be clear right off the bat: The Xbox One is an awesome console even if it is currently in second place behind the PS4 in terms of sales. All the same, sales do matter and shrewd Xbox fan Paul Thurrott notices that this year’s Xbox One presentation at E3 marked a dramatic reversal from the presentation that Microsoft gave at E3 2013 where it went out of its way to tout all of the new console’s home entertainment features. This year, however, it was all about the games and Thurrott thinks that a big reason for this is that Microsoft made a lot of major public relations mistakes with gamers last year.
We don’t need to go over every unforced error that Microsoft made last year but they all basically boiled down to this: The company introduced a bunch of new restrictions for the Xbox One that didn’t exist with the Xbox 360 — such as a requirement to log onto the web once a day to play games and restrictions on selling used games — without giving any sort of coherent explanation for why those new rules had to be in place as part of Microsoft’s vision for the future of gaming.
The backlash to this was so fierce that Microsoft has spent the last year basically undoing every controversial decision that it made with the Xbox One. And as Thurrott puts it, Microsoft this week essentially announced that “backpedaling had become a formal strategy” because “the Xbox team is now actively soliciting feedback from its enthusiast users via the Xbox Feedback web site and will use that feedback to guide the continued evolution of the console.”
This isn’t a bad thing because listening to your customers is always a good idea. At the same time, Microsoft could have saved itself a lot of grief if it had been better prepared to explain its vision for console gaming last year so that its customers might have been more accepting of the changes it wanted to make.