The problem with Xbox is that it always follows and never leads – Reader’s Feature

The problem with Xbox is that it always follows and never leads – Reader’s Feature

Was the Xbox Games Showcase old-fashioned and was that a good thing? (YouTube)

A reader is impressed by the Xbox Games Showcase but argues that the reason the Xbox 360 stands out is its industry innovations, not just its games.

I watched the Xbox Games Showcase on Sunday and I was very impressed. I don’t think any reasonable person could say otherwise. There’s not even any point comparing it to the State of Play or Summer Game Fest, both of which were boring and had no real game announcements of note (except Astro Bot for PlayStation). The Xbox one felt like E3 from five or 10 years ago, only with all the surprises spoiled ahead of time – but hey, that’s modern internet life for you.

As has been pointed out, Microsoft didn’t used to be very good at these sort of things. Mostly because they didn’t have good enough games to fill them out, but also because they used to waffle on for ages, with far too much stage time for their odious execs (they were still the worst part of this showcase and they were only on screen for a few minutes each).

I’m sure they were very pleased with the event and its reception but thinking about it more deeply I couldn’t help but think that they still haven’t moved on very much. Apart from a few more Western role-players than they used to have they’re still basically the ‘Shooter Box’, with the first, last, and 30 minute special preview all being dedicated to shooters. Plus, Perfect Dark.

There’s a certain mentality at Xbox that doesn’t seem to want to learn from its past mistakes. More than that, it seems to want to prove that its way of doing things can work. Despite all these decades later it always thinks that the next time things will work out, if it keeps just doing the same thing again and again. I’m sure we all know that quote about the definition of insanity.

Microsoft clearly doesn’t want to copy Japanese companies like Sony and Nintendo and yet it’s found itself slowly drifting in that direction anyway, and as a result it’s ended up several years behind the other two in terms of how it approaches gaming. Xbox is good at showcases now, but Sony has already given up doing them.

Xbox is getting into narrative based games and role-players, but Sony is largely abandoning them. Now, I’m not criticising Xbox here, I’m merely observing. But there wasn’t a single live service game at the Xbox Games Showcase, instead it all looked like a Sony event from a decade ago.

Even with all the shooters I would 100% rather have Xbox’s line-up, if it was down to my personal preference, but from a business perspective is Sony not more likely to know what it’s doing? If Nintendo announces the Switch 2 and it has a bunch of live service games I think we’ll definitely know which way the wind is blowing.

Everything Xbox does tends to be what someone else did several years previously, and that can’t be healthy. So what’s their big idea now? To copy Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck. The thing about this is that the Switch 2 is just round the corner and it’ll probably be full of new ideas, which Xbox won’t have time to copy, so, as usual, they’ll be looking like they’re one step behind.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the one time they weren’t like this was in the Xbox 360 generation, where the PlayStation 3 still outsold them (just) but it was clearly Xbox that was leading the way, with the push for online, digital downloads, and achievements. The Xbox 360 didn’t just have great games, it had big ideas that changed the industry.

It is a very long time since Xbox has been in that position, the only thing close being backwards compatibility, which they very clearly did because they didn’t have any actual new games out at the time. These are the sort of ideas they need more of though. Don’t just copy what’s popular now, because the time it takes to make anything in gaming it’ll be outdated by the time it’s ready.

Xbox can still have a big impact on gaming, and they are well positioned to take advantage of Sony’s current inactivity, but if you want to be a market leader you’ve got to lead – not look like you’re constantly playing catch-up.

By reader Cranborne

What should be Phil Spencer’s next move? (YouTube)

The reader’s features do not necessarily represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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