Microsoft must have been pretty happy with themselves after the undoubted success of the Xbox 360. They had established a massive user base, launched some amazing games and features for the system and they had set themselves up to continue that goodwill and success into this generation of consoles. After an overly long last gen, fans were crying out for new tech, new consoles, with grander more immersive experiences to sink their gaming teeth into, the stage was set for Microsoft to continue their good work with the Xbox One, their fans were ready to embrace the new era with open arms, but what happened next was tragic, laughable even, oh my, just how they made a mess of everything staggers the mind.
I remember sitting up, beer in hand, ready to watch the Xbox One's unveiling, after about half an hour in I couldn't believe what I was seeing and hearing. A thousand and 4 references to TV, DRM, always online, Kinect would be sold with every machine whether you wanted it or not. At E3 we found out that the thing would be more expensive and less powerful than the PS4 and to add insult to injury, you no longer would own your games, you now would only own the license for Xbox games. Madness, madness in every bloody direction.
Meanwhile over at Sony, they had a clear message for their fans, the PS4 would be all about games, games and more games. They must of struggled to come out on the stage at that E3, struggled to contain their laughter at what Microsoft had just done. Sony to their credit delivered a machine that was easy to develop for and a machine that gamers wanted, they were not about to mess with a strategy that had worked for them from the PS1 onwards, sure they botched the price of the PS3 at launch but they also quickly learned from their mistakes, they would not make the same error twice.
Since that infamous E3 in 2013 Microsoft had no choice but to backtrack on all their crazy ideas or risk watching their brand new console tank completely in the market place, even a few short months after the console went on sale they had no choice but to remove the Kinect, drop the price and sell Xbox One by itself. It was been slaughtered at retail by the PS4, the damage was done and since then Sony has never looked back and Microsoft are still playing catch up.
In fairness to Microsoft, they have worked their socks off to regain the trust of the fans they lost to Sony. The features and upgrades that have been brought to the Xbox One are making it look like an attractive proposition again. Features such as backwards compatibility, EA Access, a feature which Sony didn't want, Beam, Game Preview and Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft's answer to EA Access, all add great value to the system and the Xbox Live experience as a whole, and I think its fair to say that its here where the Xbox One has the biggest advantage over the PS4. Backwards compatibility for example makes a mockery of Sony's PS Now service and with Xbox Game Pass nearly ready for it's big roll out, you will have a different way to play and pay for your games with the Xbox One.
For me, certainly these days, its the game side of things that Microsoft are really struggling with. There is a terrible lack of exclusive titles for the Xbox One compared to the PS4, Sony keeps delivering on it's initial promise of the PS4 been all about games. Unchartered 4, The Last Of Us, which I know is a PS3 game but it's still one hell of title, Bloodborne, Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Last Guardian, Kill zone, Street Fighter, Nioh, the list goes on and on. In the future they still have the likes of The Last Of Us 2, Days Gone, God Of War and Grand Tourism to look forward too.
For Microsoft's part, we have seen Scale bound and Fable cancelled, Re-Core, a game that was obviously unfinished when it launched and is now getting a "Definitive Edition", which is just an insult to who ever bought the original version, we have seen nothing of Crackdown 3, a game that interests me because of the way it uses the cloud for multiplayer, OK, we do have Rare's brilliant looking pirate sim Sea Of Thieves and State Of Decay 2 to look forward too but beyond that, nothing else really jumps out at you. I suppose we can look forward to a new Halo and Forza down the road at some stage but I believe it's Sony that have the much better hand when it comes to exclusives, and exclusive games IMO is still the biggest factor when it comes to flogging your ware's to the general public and also IMO its the main reason the PS4 has a 2 to 1 sales lead on the Xbox One, Microsoft is not closing the gap, its just getting bigger, but a slower rate.
Going forward are we likely to see a swing back towards Xbox, there is the Xbox Scorpio on the horizon after all and with it the promise of all kinds of amazing wonders. 4K gaming, high fidelity VR, backwards and forwards compatibility. Microsoft are promising a lot with the Scorpio, Sony has played their hand with the PS4 Pro and the Scorpio is certainly going to be a much more powerful piece of kit but it will need games to make it work and probably more importantly than that at launch anyway, it will need to be priced correctly.
I have read rumours that the Scorpio could cost as much as $700 because of the tech that is been used to the deliver those 6 TFLOPS of power. If these rumours turn out to be true, then its game over for Microsoft, at that price very few people will be picking it up, especially when you consider the PRO only costs $400 and will certainly be getting a price drop come launch time for Microsoft and the Scorpio. I already own a PS4 and I could buy a PSVR headset to go with it and a Nintendo Switch for that price come November of this year.
Microsoft have to price it right, if they want to put the Xbox back on top they nearly have all the ingredients right there with the Scorpio, all third party games will look better on it, better VR than the PRO, all the great features from the Xbox One will still be there and you will still be able to play a massive collection of 360 games on it too. It just needs some killer exclusives and a $400 to $500 price point, it just might be the game changer Microsoft needs to put a stop to Sony's dominance.
I'd love to know what you folks think of the Xbox One's past, present and future, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.