Former Microsoft Exec on Xbox One’s Rough Launch and Turnaround

Xbox One launch woes

“I think some of that was predictable and preventable,” said Robbe Bach, former president of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division in a lengthy interview with Geekwire. Bach was responding to a question about the early struggles Microsoft faced with the Xbox One.

Bach went on to say that, “I think Xbox One has put almost all of that behind itself. They’ve got a great holiday lineup.”

I agree with Bach here. It’s pretty damn impressive when you think about it. The backlash against policies like always-on was swift and massive. A focus on entertainment features alienated gaming-centric fans. It was immediately apparent that the decision makers behind the Xbox One screwed up big time. Don Mattrick, former head of Xbox, left the company before the Xbox One even launched.

The Xbox One would flounder until Phil Spencer was tapped to lead Xbox by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Spencer even admitted that the Xbox team made wrong decisions when creating the Xbox One. “There are two sides to the ledger,” Spencer said in an interview with Larry ‘Major Nelson’ Hyrb. “There is a lot of learning that I did as a leader in the organisation, when I just heard how our message resonated with people and some of the decisions that we made, that I think were actually the wrong decisions, and we had to revisit those decisions.”

Today, Xbox One’s launch woes are an afterthought. Spencer’s focus on games first helped right the ship. Constant updates to the Xbox One UI have also helped. And features like Xbox One Backwards Compatibility garner a lot of goodwill among the gaming community.

The future of gaming

GeekWire also talked to Bach a bit about the future of gaming. Namely, what it will look like? Bach believes the next generation of consoles will “probably not” have physical media.

“Is it just a game box or is it more? What’s the balance between what an Apple TV is and what an Xbox or a PlayStation 4 is? These are really interesting questions, and the teams going to have to wrestle with those. That next generation will be a whole new game,” Bach added.

Let me know when Apple TV can run games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Until then, there will always be a market for consoles. And until everyone has reliable internet with no data caps, physical media will still be a thing.

The console market was supposed to be dying now. Yet sales are stronger than ever. Will consoles as we know it eventually change? Sure, but it won’t happen anytime soon. Remember Amazon and their Fire TV? Yeah, that didn’t quite pan out.

As long as there is a market for AAA games, there will be a market for today’s type of console.

Head on over to GeekWire to read (or listen to) the full interview with Robbie Bach, including his thoughts on virtual reality.

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