This video shows how Microsoft doomed the Xbox One

It’s finally happened. Earlier this week Microsoft admitted the Xbox One would probably never catch up with the PlayStation 4. The admission came from Xbox head Phil Spencer in an interview with VideoGamer last week, but it only confirms what we’ve known for the past two years. 

“You know, I don’t know. You know, the length of the generation… They have a huge lead and they have a good product,” said Spencer. “I love the content, the games line-up that we have.”

A launch to forget

So where did it go wrong? At the very beginning, actually. Last time around, the Xbox 360 made huge inroads on the PlayStation 3 because of its single-minded focus on games, but Microsoft reversed that trend with the Xbox One. Rather than focusing on games, Microsoft took a gamble, and doubled down on the ability to watch TV and Sport and more on the Xbox One.

It didn’t pay off. Gamers didn’t want to pay for motion sensors, or the ability to Skype their friends – predictably, they just wanted to play games. As a result, the Xbox One launch will go down as one of the most poorly received hardware launches in video-game history.

Despite being mainly sport and TV-focused, Microsoft had just enough time to upset gamers even more with a few other clangers. Microsoft forced games to purchase an – extremely impressive but pricey – Kinect module that pushed the console’s price uncomfortably high, while odd game-sharing policies and a need to connect to the internet every 24 hours alienated the fans that Microsoft desperately needed.

Although it backtracked on most of its decisions, the game-sharing policies were quickly shelved after ridicule from gamers and Sony, while Kinect was also made optional – it was too late. The console war was over before it even began.

The numbers tell the story

The PlayStation 4 now enjoys a huge lead in the console race. According to recent figures from Ars Technica, Sony now has a 50% stranglehold on the console market, with the PS4 outselling the Xbox One at a crushing 3:1 ratio. And the news gets worse for Microsoft: the latest figures put the PS4 on around 25 million PS4’s sold to the Xbox One’s 14 million. 

It’s unlikely Microsoft will make in-roads on that lead over Christmas, too. Sony just announced a £50 price cut for the PS4, bringing it down to a more reasonable £300. 

A silver lining

In terms of games, the Xbox One hasn’t been a failure: headline titles such as Sunset Overdrive, Gears of War, Halo and Forza 6 and Halo have really boosted Microsoft’s console, and given it some of the best experiences on any platform today. Although Kinect may have alienated fans, other features like seperate vibration for the L and R triggers made the Xbox One a unique console – and are ultilised incredibly well in games like Turn 10’s Forza 6. Despite being down on power compared to Sony’s console, the Xbox One also holds its own in most multi-platform titles, too.

However, if Microsoft had retained the game-focused approach it uses with the Xbox 360, things could have been so different. 

To find out how game designers use level design and sounds to scare us, read next: What makes a horror game scary?

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