Sadly, I cancelled my Xbox One pre-order this morning. I’d been thinking about this for a few weeks but 2 things pushed me over the edge over the last 24 hours. Let me summarize all of the reasons:
I don’t play a wide variety of games. Madden lost me a few versions ago as the controls became over-fiddly. Most of my gaming time has gone into Rockstar titles, including GTA IV and add-ons, Red Dead Redemption, and GTA V. I detest random maze first person shooters, from Castle Wolfenstein onwards. None of the titles for Xbox One grabs my interest.
I, like many, own a HD TV. It cost me good money so I like to use feeds that offer 1080p. It was a real kicker that games companies are announcing that their Xbox One versions will be crippled to 720p because they hardware just can’t keep up. This morning, I read that Dead Rising 3 will not only be limited to 720p, but will also only run at 30 frames per second instead of the normally expected 60 FPS. This is where the moron will comment that Dead Rising 3 is the sort of game that I just said I don’t play – true, but it is indicative that this hardware is insufficient for what it is being asked to do.
Clearly, the PS4 is trouncing the Xbox One as a games console. That’s the purpose of the machine – I couldn’t give a flying fiddlers about Skype/streaming on Xbox because:
- I rather do social media on a tablet/phone where I have comfort
- Hardly any services exist outside of the USA
- My Roku is waaaaay more reliable and simpler for media playback than anything Microsoft has offered so far
Xbox is inferior hardware to the PS4 – I’m not going to debate that because the results are already in. The PS4 is $100/€100 cheaper. Hmm.
Xbox sales started off slow due to stupid restriction policies that were later cancelled. Then sales went up. Now I am hearing anecdotal evidence that pre-order cancellations are rocketing. It seems logical that if you do want to stick with the Xbox platform through the next generation, then you should wait until February when Microsoft will probably be forced to look at unbundling the Kinect and/or reducing the price.
Until then, I’m not willing to spend €500 for inferior hardware.
The Future of Xbox
You would think that Microsoft makes a fortune on Xbox. The brand is very successful. Gamers and non-gamers of different generations recognise the brand. Xbox loses a fortune for Microsoft every year. I read last night that the $2billion/year that Microsoft makes from Android might be used to hide the Xbox losses (as well as those of Bing). Wow!
I think there are three possible paths Microsoft might take with Xbox:
- Do nothing: This is what I call the Vista strategy. Pretend that everything is fine and keep putting up blog posts to say something like “no, you’re the one with the performance issue”.
- Sell/Dump Xbox: Microsoft analyst, Rick Sherlund, says that Microsoft needs to sell off Xbox (and Bing). If a new CEO does inspect the books and the headlines, then Xbox will look like a gangrenous limb that needs to be amputated. Xbox is the very public brand that highlights many of the issues in Microsoft right now.
- Release Xbox One Point One: Can you imagine the hatred from Xbox One customers if Microsoft released a new console that had the hardware capable of doing what Microsoft is asking of it? It’s possible that Microsoft could do this – but unlikely I think.
Under Ballmer, history shows us that path one will be taken (EDIT: It was). What happens with a new CEO? That depends. If it’s Elop then I think he’ll do what Ballmer would do and ride Xbox to it’s death. Other Microsoft candidates might do that, or path number 3. I think an impartial external candidate (which I doubt will happen) would have the authority from the board (i.e. Bill Gates, which I doubt will happen) to make huge changes, including implementing path number 2.
I’m saddened by what’s happened to Xbox. I hope there is a future for the console but I’m not very hopeful at the moment. Here’s wishing that Microsoft proves me very wrong.