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Opinion Escapist Magazine - How Xbox Has Become the Most Consumer-Friendly of the Big Three

CyberPanda

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How Xbox Has Become the Most Consumer-Friendly of the Big Three


When it comes to the Xbox Series X so far, Microsoft has shied away from holding a massive reveal event in favor of smaller info drops via Twitter and Xbox Wire posts. Today was no exception, with Head of Xbox Phil Spencer publishing an article that highlights a lot of the specs of the upcoming console. While I’ll leave the analysis of things like 12 teraflops and Dynamic Latency Input to folks who are way smarter than me, the one thing that really stood out to me came near the end of the post. In detailing the future of Game Pass, backward compatibility, and other user-facing features, Microsoft has surpassed Sony and Nintendo in turning the Xbox into the most consumer-friendly console out there.

Perhaps what’s most impressive about this ascent is how Microsoft had hit such a low point just prior to the start of this console generation. The Xbox One reveal event in May 2013 was the stuff of infamy, with the major takeaways being muddied messages on whether the upcoming console would require a Kinect and an internet connection at all times, as well as creating massive barriers in regards to used/shared games that Sony iconically lambasted at E3. Obviously these policies would be reversed prior to the Xbox One launch in November 2013, but a lot of the damage had already been done.

But when Phil Spencer took over as the Head of Xbox in 2014, the company’s relationship with the consumers began to right its course. This wasn’t easy or immediate, especially when it came to the first-party and exclusive output. From high-profile cancellations like Fable Legends and Scalebound, to disappointing final products like ReCore and Quantum Break, it was especially rough when placed against Sony’s stellar first-party output throughout most of the generation. But those were a lot of problems that Spencer had inherited. If you look at what he’s put his thumbprint on since, you see Microsoft acquiring several high-profile studios such as Double Fine, Obsidian, and Ninja Theory, which helps with both quantity as well as quality when it comes to their library.


With all of those studios and the rise in prominence of movie and TV streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, Microsoft created its own similar platform in Xbox Game Pass. Since its launch in June 2017, Xbox Game Pass has become one of the absolute best deals in all of gaming. The library of games has been consistently high in quality, with the announcement of new drops rarely disappointing, especially compared to its most direct competitor in Sony’s PlayStation Now. Having games in the Microsoft family such as Forza, Gears 5, and The Outer Worlds available on day one makes the service pay for itself for anyone interested in them. Likewise, knowing that first-party staples like Ori and the Will of the Wisps and, perhaps most importantly, Halo Infinite will be on the service at the Xbox Series X launch keeps people engaged with Game Pass.
Aside from the obvious first-party titles, Game Pass has also supported major third-party franchises like the Tomb Raider trilogy, Grand Theft Auto V, and The Witcher 3. It’s even had massive games shortly after their release, with Devil May Cry 5 and Rage 2currently on the service less than a year after their initial launches. And of course there are the indies, with 2019 standouts like Outer Wilds and Afterparty both available at launch on the service. Finally, there are a handful of 360 games on the service, such as Fable Anniversary, Mass Effect, and Ninja Gaiden 2, as well as even a few original Xbox games like Panzer Dragoon Orta and Fusion Frenzy.

If Microsoft could continue adding to this with other titles that many consider to be in the video game “canon,” then the service could become an integral way to experience and embrace the past.
That last bit is also an important part of how Microsoft is earning its consumer-friendly stripes. It’s easy to overlook, but the E3 2015 announcement that Microsoft would be bringing backward compatibility to Xbox Onewas a pivotal moment in Microsoft’s relationship with the player, as well as how the company viewed its own legacy in the gaming space. History and preservation are just as vital in video games as they are in any other medium.

With digital games like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ‘89, and The Simpsons arcade being removed from online stores and services over rights issues — not to mention the absolute disaster surrounding Konami, Hideo Kojima, and P.T.— the impermanence of digital media has never been clearer. So the fact that I can take my physical copy of Halo 2 that I bought on the original Xbox in November 2004 and play it using my Xbox One X and presumably Xbox Series X in 2020 is remarkable.

Knowing that so many of the physical games I own, as well as the digital Xbox One library I’ve accumulated over the past generation, will be making the trip over to the Series X with me at launch is incredibly reassuring.

While we still don’t know the details of how the PlayStation 5 will handle backward compatibility, Xbox’s approach is obviously a contrast to how PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch handle their legacy libraries. Discs from previous Sony consoles don’t work on the PS4, and the Switch uses a different media format altogether. While Sony has a decent selection of legacy PS3 games available via PS Now, the older library is certainly lacking.

And Nintendo has been facing its own struggles with its robust archive of games on Switch. While having a few dozen NES and SNES games available via Nintendo Switch Online at an affordable price of $20/year is a great deal, the library pales in comparison to what we could buy on the Wii and Wii U Virtual Consoles. And while the NES, SNES, and PlayStation Classics were nice, having to re-buy games I’ve already purchased several times in the past isn’t exactly the most consumer-friendly move.


Microsoft is on its way to remedying that last problem. One of the final details in the most recent Xbox Series X news was the announcement of “Smart Delivery.” What it boils down to is, if you buy a game that’s cross-generation, you’re able to play it on whichever console you want. So for instance, if you buy Halo Infinite this fall for Xbox One but hold off on upgrading to the new hardware until 2021, when you do finally jump into the Series X, your Halo purchase will work there as well.

While this technology will be used on all exclusive Microsoft Game Studios games, they’re opening it up to interested third-parties as well, with CD Projekt’s Cyberpunk 2077 already on board. This becomes very interesting when you consider games that have already been announced for the current generation like Final Fantasy VII Remake, Marvel’s Avengers, and Watch Dogs: Legion, which will almost assuredly make their way to next-gen consoles as well.

Microsoft’s recent announcements are even more positive when placed against the competition. For instance, the lone drawback from Nintendo’s wonderful Animal Crossing Direct from last week was the rigid nature of if/how you could transfer your save to another console, which is especially annoying considering how Nintendo has already released several new Switch models that make upgrading a tempting offer. Microsoft is setting an impressive benchmark and creating an expectation that Sony really can’t risk under-delivering on. Despite not having a splashy reveal event, Microsoft has done a fantastic job of slowly delivering Xbox Series X information that points towards an incredibly consumer-friendly future.
 

SleepDoctor

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Nov 11, 2019
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Was about to say "inb4sonywarriors".... but i was late lmao.

These guys are walking on eggshells lately, so easily triggered.


OT: its surely has done a 180 from xbone launch but "most" is not a term I'd use yet. Maybe most transparent maybe but not most consumer friendly when we don't know anything about the other two yet.
 
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NickFire

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I'm starting to lean towards Xbox for next generation I think. Already made sure I can log into my old Live account. That Sony would let MS have this much spotlight and positive press all to itself is making me wonder why. I know, I know, they could be simply following their own plan that ultimately makes all of us PS4 only people happy at the end. But whether in politics (polls) or business reports (growth), momentum seems to matter a hell of a lot, and for some reason Sony is not trying to stall the snowball that MS pushed down the hill.
 
Dec 27, 2019
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Gamepass is a game changer.

They went from DRM and anti consumer approach with XBO to completely a new fresh consumer friendly direction with Crossplay, Gamepass, Xcloud, and recently announced XSX games delivery feature that will shape the future of the industry.

Despite starting the current Generation at the lowest point ever, Phil Spencer managed to steer XB division into the right direction after taking over from Don Mattrick disastrous tenure that subsequently saved the whole division from being canned by Microsoft.
 
Feb 14, 2010
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By piling on subscription fees and moving to a quantity over quality business model for B-tier games to pad out those monthly fee programs? So consumer friendly...
If you are not in the service you can't call it quantity over quality. Especially when you are getting great 3rd party games alongside great first party games. Played and enjoyed so many games I wouldn't have bought.
 
Aug 28, 2019
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Still doesn't have any games on it i want to play enough to convince me to buy another xbox. So wonderful, it's a friendly doorstop. Call me when it has a robust library of exclusives worth playing.
Did you fall on an XSX when rolling out the wrong side of the bed this morning? The grumpiness is real.

Looking at history, the system in last place is always the most consumer friendly.
Maybe. But I can't really recall that being the case for the Saturn, Gamecube, or Wii U. But it was true with Dreamcast, PS3 and now XBO.

So maybe it's half true?
 
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siekro1983

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I have to admit they are doing some great things. BC and the hardware is just phenomenal, they are basically giving us free remasters at 4k. I think i'm going xbox nextgen and will pick up a playstation 5 when it 299$ or cheaper. I have a feeling sony is gonna make ps5 with crappy BC won't have upgrades and ps5 will be 9 teraflops running at 2ghz.
 

CatLady

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I love everything Xbox is doing these days and that's after considering switching to PS4 only after the ridiculous X1 reveal.

I'm so glad I ended up staying with Xbox as I just enjoyed my Xboxes far more than my PS4 especially after I traded it for the X1X and got a taste of Game Pass. Now I'm eagerly anticipating firing up Halo Infinite on the XsX day 1.
 

JunkerWoland

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MS deserves credit for refocusing the XBox brand towards enthusiast of console games (and I suppose games, in general), but since the start of this hardware cycle, I still don't find their software exclusives to be enticing. If MS rolls into the next generation with a similar catalog of exclusive titles (timed-or-otherwise), potential hardware superiority alone would not be enough to secure my purchase over a competitor.
 

Mod of War

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By piling on subscription fees and moving to a quantity over quality business model for B-tier games to pad out those monthly fee programs? So consumer friendly...
People can choose whether they want to subscribe or not, no? Free market and consumer choice, correct?

Let's not derail this thread around another tiring GamePass debate.
 

SuperLupeRap

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Was about to say "inb4sonywarriors".... but i was late lmao.

These guys are walking on eggshells lately, so easily triggered.

OT: its surely has done a 180 from xbone launch but "most" is not a term I'd use yet. Maybe most transparent maybe but not most consumer friendly when we don't know anything about the other two yet.
Still doesn't have any games on it i want to play enough to convince me to buy another xbox. So wonderful, it's a friendly doorstop. Call me when it has a robust library of exclusives worth playing.
Bro put yourself at their place right now. The only ammunition they have is a measly logo and some Instagram likes. Not easy being in the trenches when the only weapon you have is a butter knife haha.
 

Hostile_18

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I'm starting to lean towards Xbox for next generation I think. Already made sure I can log into my old Live account. That Sony would let MS have this much spotlight and positive press all to itself is making me wonder why. I know, I know, they could be simply following their own plan that ultimately makes all of us PS4 only people happy at the end. But whether in politics (polls) or business reports (growth), momentum seems to matter a hell of a lot, and for some reason Sony is not trying to stall the snowball that MS pushed down the hill.
That's where I am TBH. I really want Sony to come out fighting. Why risk losing all the fans they have won over this generation with radio silence. If the Sony offering cant compete I'll be moving back again (after changing over from the 360).

It's hard not to think their amazing exclusives haven't started to make them arrogant... and that's a damn shame. In fairness though MS are only this consumer friendly because of their market position and lack of exclusives.

Perhaps the more impartial/savvy of us are constantly doomed to switch platform holders every generation.
 
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NickFire

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That's where I am TBH. I really want Sony to come out fighting. Why risk losing all the fans they have won over this generation with radio silence.

I'f the Sony offering cant compete I'll be moving back again (after changing over from the 360).

It's hard not to think their amazing exclusives haven't started to make them arrogant... and that's a damn shame.

In fairness though MS are only this consumer friendly because of their market position and lack of exclusives.

Perhaps the more impartial/savvy of us are constantly doomed to switch platform holders every generation.
I've switched multiple times myself. Only time I have not was Xbox to 360. I really do not want to switch back now because of my digital library and expectation that some games I still play from time to time (or more) would remain playable on PS5 without any progress loss. But if the X is 33% more powerful (12-9=3; 3/9 = 33%) than PS5 that is a big deal to me. The price could still be prohibitive though, especially if I worry about mass market adoption.
 

Hostile_18

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I've switched multiple times myself. Only time I have not was Xbox to 360. I really do not want to switch back now because of my digital library and expectation that some games I still play from time to time (or more) would remain playable on PS5 without any progress loss. But if the X is 33% more powerful (12-9=3; 3/9 = 33%) than PS5 that is a big deal to me. The price could still be prohibitive though, especially if I worry about mass market adoption.
Yeah I have a huge back catalogue now so it would be a shame to switch. I don't mind a small power difference but with that saving I'd want full back compat with enhancements.

Ultimately it is

Power (seemingly)
Gamepass
Controller
Smart Play
Refunds
Backwards Compatability

Vs

Back catologue
Exclusives (Naughty Dog my favorite developer).

It's just unfortunate those last two points are pretty huge. I really want Sony to have amazing Back Compatibility (disc based) as well. I'll make a final decision after everything has been revealed.
 
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Psykodad

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Gamepass is a game changer.

They went from DRM and anti consumer approach with XBO to completely a new fresh consumer friendly direction with Crossplay, Gamepass, Xcloud, and recently announced XSX games delivery feature that will shape the future of the industry.

Despite starting the current Generation at the lowest point ever, Phil Spencer managed to steer XB division into the right direction after taking over from Don Mattrick disastrous tenure that subsequently saved the whole division from being canned by Microsoft.
Too dumb to realize that GamePass and xCloud are virtually the same as the DRM bullshit.
 

wolffy71

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Everyone knows Sony is gonna copy all these things either way, right? So don't complain too hard, it will save a lot of back tracking later.

I'm willing to bet Sony is working on competing with game pass on a much higher level. Games on PC? yeah beginnings of it already. Buy the game once thing(smart delivery)? Won't have much of a choice.
 

Psykodad

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Does using the net once to download the game count? Xcloud? I mean its a service to stream games so yeah
So you expect the service to not require any kind of authentication for continuous use, at all?

Edit:

Also, if you need internet to play singleplayer games, what makes it different from the DRM plans of XboxOne?

They do the exact same thing in a different way and the fans are cheering them on.
 
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wolffy71

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So you expect the service to not require any kind of authentication for continuous use, at all?

Edit:

Also, if you need internet to play singleplayer games, what makes it different from the DRM plans of XboxOne?

They do the exact same thing in a different way and the fans are cheering them on.
Well I would expect them to make use of some form of authentication about a game that I'm basically renting. Other than that idk if you need net after you download the game because I would never NOT have the internet to find out. What is this? 1990?
 

Psykodad

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Well I would expect them to make use of some form of authentication about a game that I'm basically renting. Other than that idk if you need net after you download the game because I would never NOT have the internet to find out. What is this? 1990?
That's literally the same excuse that was being used with original Xbox One.

Funny how MS didn't change at all, but rather a part of the gaming community.
That's why MS doesn't really care, they have a gullible target audience.
And it's painfully obvious, yet those people are willfully ignorant.
 
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zeorhymer

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So Xbox has become the most consumer friendly by....Game Pass? "Smart Delivery?"
"While Sony has a decent selection of legacy PS3 games available via PS Now, the older library is certainly lacking. "

This article reeks of shill. I guess 800+ games on PSNow is "certainly lacking."
 

toxiichollow

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So you expect the service to not require any kind of authentication for continuous use, at all?

Edit:

Also, if you need internet to play singleplayer games, what makes it different from the DRM plans of XboxOne?

They do the exact same thing in a different way and the fans are cheering them on.

You have access to the game for 30 days without internet.
 

bRacing

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Feb 13, 2020
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So Xbox has become the most consumer friendly by....Game Pass? "Smart Delivery?"
"While Sony has a decent selection of legacy PS3 games available via PS Now, the older library is certainly lacking. "

This article reeks of shill. I guess 800+ games on PSNow is "certainly lacking."
Wake me when I can download those PS3 games and play them without stupid amounts of PSN lag.