I can’t go a week without hearing or reading something that Phil Spencer has said.
As a longtime Microsoft user, this is new for me. When the Xbox 360 was new, Zune was a legitimate competitor, and I was the same height as everyone else on a basketball court; you’d have been hard pressed to find a Microsoft executive being this candid about the company’s plans.
Understandably, Spencer and the rest of the Xbox Team want to prove to users that they haven’t abandoned them with the Xbox One. I can’t complain about this. I was one of those users grandstanding, asking for transparency in whatever form it would take. I wanted to know what these guys were thinking in real-time. I wanted to see them take feedback from users and share what they’re thinking about for the future.
To their credit, they’ve done that.
The problem is that every time I see a direct quote from almost anyone on the Xbox Team it’s about how the company is going to focus on games.
Take today’s report from Polygon. According to that report, Xbox Entertainment Studios vice president Jordan Levin recently said,
“It’s also probably worth saying that none of the activity we’re pursuing is coming at the expense any of the investment that’s been made in the platform overall or gaming overall. There isn’t shifting of resources away from gaming to this. I mean, the nice thing about playing in a device like this, again, that’s nonlinear is there’s no finite space restrictions. We’re simply a new service that is meant to increase the value proposition for the audience, and if they want to opt in, great, and if they don’t, then we’ll react and respond. But we’re not, there’s nothing that’s getting displaced in the process of what we’re trying to build.”
I get it.
Look,I get it. You guys botched the message on the Xbox One and Sony ended up taking a gaming-shaped bat and hitting you with it for eight months. I understand the need for you to reset your marketing message. I am perfectly fine with you talking to your core audience at a time when it’s important.
That being said, I encourage Microsoft to stop having executives say things like that. More importantly, I implore media outlets to stop asking the sort of questions that solicit this response.
Gaming is important. It’s how we got to a place where companies could offer competitive alternatives to cable. If it wasn’t for the gaming industry it’s very possible that we wouldn’t be in the position to even have streaming video as a valid topic of discussion.
Here’s the thing though. If I’m at the North American Auto Show looking at a specific car, I don’t ask the designer why he didn’t put more effort into the sport utility vehicle that 15% of people drive. Here’s what gamers fail to understand while they throw fits. The people who enjoy video, television and music completely out number hard-core gamers, in my opinion.
That’s a fact, and even two years ago Microsoft was telling The Wall Street Journal about how video content and entertainment app activity made up around half of Xbox Live activity. I get that tiptoeing around core gamers sells your first 100 million consoles. My question is do you actually think making media lovers feel like second class citizens or hiding your entertainment features – those things that make your console unique – somehow makes it more likely that people who aren’t necessarily into hardcore gaming will buy your console?
Let’s not also forget that Xbox Music and Xbox Video on any platform are in very, very rough shape almost two years after they were introduced.
I purchased an Xbox One because I wanted one entertainment experience. I didn’t purchase it to listen to Microsoft constantly remind me that the Xbox One is a gaming system first or the media constantly feed into what I now plan to refer to as “The Gaming Delusion.” I play games. I love games. I also love music and TV. There’s nothing wrong with that so stop treating me like my money isn’t green.