Two years ago, Microsoft started hyping up the Xbox One at E3 with what might have been the most disastrous sales pitch for any gaming console ever. In case you don’t remember, Microsoft 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. The backlash was so fierce that Microsoft spent the next several months reversing its decisions and scrambling furiously to get back in gamers’ good graces.
Times change, however, and two years later Microsoft is absolutely killing it at this year’s E3. We’ll start with the big news that Microsoft is making the Xbox One backwards compatible with old Xbox 360 games, which means you’ll be able to play all your old favorites on the console just as you can do now with new games.
This is obviously awesome but it’s also something that Sony has been working on for the PS4. In my mind, the even bigger announcement that Microsoft made was that the Xbox One would support mods for Fallout 4 when it releases this November.
This is a huge deal because it locks in Microsoft as the modding platform for both PC gamers and console gamers. Mods, for those of you who don’t know, are fan-made additions that can improve gameplay or add completely new content to games. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is still played fanatically by many PC gamers because mods have extended the game’s life well beyond what it otherwise would have been. It’s easy to imagine mods pulling a similar trick for Fallout 4, and now for the first time console players will be able to enjoy the same mods that PC gamers have been bragging about for years.
This also opens up the possibility for Xbox One mods for other games in the future. If you’re a prospective console buyer and you have a choice between an excellent console that will offer you a huge lineup of games and an excellent console that offers not only most of those same games, but the ability to make those games even better, which would you choose?
Then when you consider both Microsoft’s deal to support the Oculus Rift VR headset on Windows 10 and its development of the amazing HoloLens headset, and you can see that it’s already well ahead of Sony in the realm of virtual reality.
While the PlayStation 4 has definitely won the console wars for the past couple of years, the major initiatives that Microsoft has announced over the past week are enough to put it back on top of the console gaming world.