When the Xbox One was released in 2013, one of the Xbox One’s developers and designers, Seamus Blackley, expressed concern that “it was over.”
When the Xbox One was released, Seamus Blackley, one of the Xbox’s founders and designers, feared that the brand would die. Instead, when the Xbox One was first announced, it was met with immediate and scathing criticism from gamers. Microsoft mostly concentrated on entertainment features and TV content (many of which amounted to little) and displayed very few games during their pre-E3 unveiling event. Although there were titles at the Xbox One E3 event, they were all overshadowed by a complicated DRM scheme, the requirement to use Kinect, and the $500 price tag. As a result, it was not favorably received.
In December, Microsoft launched a new six-part Xbox documentary that covered the console’s long history. The documentary made it clear that the Xbox One’s early days were a low time for the company and that the inaugural reveal was a complete disaster. However, after Phil Spencer took over as CEO of Xbox, things started to look up, with things like Xbox Game Pass, backward compatibility, and big acquisitions. As a result, many people thought that it would be the end of the Xbox brand when Xbox One was announced.
When the Xbox One was released, Xbox creator Seamus Blackley stated that he felt “everything was over.” Surprisingly, the official Xbox Twitter account responded with a tweet that echoed his sentiments, revealing how the Xbox One launch was viewed as a disaster. These were trying times for the company, and, incredibly, they were able to recover. With news like Rainbow Six Extraction being added to Xbox Game Pass on day one, the platform is a market leader.
You and us both, Dad.
— Xbox (@Xbox) January 8, 2022
It isn’t easy to conceive how Xbox would have fared if it hadn’t deviated from its initial path. It’s possible that the first version of the console would have worked in practice if people had had the opportunity to see it in operation, but no one will ever know. In the months leading up to the introduction of the Xbox One, Microsoft worked to address the complaints that fans had. One can only imagine how different the brand would have been if it had stuck with the vilified console in its original form.
Things like Xbox acquiring big studios like Bethesda might not have happened, and Xbox Game Pass might never have materialized. It’s an intriguing “what if” scenario with far-reaching implications for the whole game industry. On the other hand, Xbox appears to have effectively navigated those choppy waters.