Xbox One Release: Microsoft Needs to Drop the Bells and Whistles, and Stick to Making Good Games

The decisions Microsoft originally took with the Xbox One were like shooting yourself in the foot as you are falling down the grave you yourself dug. Luckily, Microsoft came to its senses and, in a victory for delayed intelligence everywhere, backtracked. Unfortunately, despite changing one really bad policy, Microsoft is clinging to something else about Xbox One that is terrible: It is not focusing on the actual games.

Priced $100 above the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One seems to be banking on additional features making up for the heftier price tag. Boasting about the included Kinect, the integration of apps, social media capabilities, and live television (provided through existing services the game is already paying for), Microsoft wants to emphasize that this isn’t “just” a gaming machine. In fact, screen shots reveal that the new Xbox interface looks more like Windows 8.

Unfortunately, what Microsoft clearly fails to recognize, is that gamers don’t want a console to entertain. They want a console to game.

Seemingly convinced that piggybacking off other apps is the way of the future, Microsoft is making the Xbox One into an entertainment hub. However, the people that want applications for their TV already have them. Be it a Smart TV, Roku, or a computer with an HDMI slot (or even a tablet with a mini-HDMI-to-HDMI slot), interested parties already have these features on their television. Paying extra for “streamlining it all” doesn’t make sense.

Besides, having Netflix didn’t change the fact that the Wii had essentially no compelling software towards the end of its cycle so, if it didn’t save them, why would it work elsewhere?

Essentially, Skype integration is nifty but it’s not what gamers want. Of course, while Xbox One lacks too many established hits, the launch games seem to have potential. Also, developers such as Crytek are worth trusting so, with them involved, even the newer properties are in safe hands. And new games such as Quantum Break look incredibly promising.

Unfortunately, that is all lost on the current strategy of selling “an environment” rather than a gaming console.

Microsoft is in a precarious situation. Halo, easily the most hyped of the games to continue exclusively on Xbox One, is but a shadow of its past greatness. Gears of War, a similarly epic franchise, flubbed its most recent outing. Mass Effect lost exclusivity. Forza, always reliable, is a racing game and therefore serves more to round out the software package than anything.

Therefore, the new original properties, many of which have already been announced as the beginning of new franchises, need to step up.

And focusing on those games, instead of chatting and tweeting, would certainly help.