Microsoft losing the plot

We’re in the midst of E3 and it appears as if Microsoft are gradually losing the plot.  And to Sony’s credit, they’re going for the jugular.

The fact that the XBOX One would in fact require an always on internet connection and would use that connection to prevent games from being traded or resold without a fee being taken has irked many.  Combine that with a new Kinect which has to be plugged in for the console to work, and therefore will always be watching and listening to you, and Microsoft already has an uphill battle on its hands.

To follow this, they announced the price, which in the UK will be £429 at launch.  That’s £80 more than Sony’s PS4.  It’s an understandable price given the hardware it’s packing in and the included Kinect (which retailed for over £100 in its original guide in the UK) but it’s still a high barrier to entry.

These could all be categorised as missteps, but they’re strategic decisions made by Microsoft.  Despite the jokes and complaints, it’s likely a hit Microsoft will take in order to fulfil their strategic objectives.

What’s inexcusable is their attitude to their fans and customers.  When asked about the onerous online requirements for the console, Don Mattrick had the following to say:

“fortunately, we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity, it’s called Xbox 360”

No doubt this is something that Microsoft discussed internally, and it’s a valid strategy.  But this blasé attitude to his customers stinks.  And given the pressure Microsoft are coming under already, months before the console has even launched, this is not the way to win over hearts and minds.

What’s particularly baffling is that almost all of these mistakes have already happened to other companies and Microsoft has failed to learn from their mistakes.  The PS3 got off to a relatively slow start because of it’s high price of £425,  EA recently cancelled it’s hated Online Pass program which prevented trade-in of games and encountered a very difficult Sim City launch which required an always on internet connection. They’ve implemented a clunky way of controlling set top boxes that almost certainly won’t work, and has been tried by many others unsuccessfully in the past.  They’ve not learnt from these mistakes.

On top of everything, this was an exchange during a demo of Xbox One launch title Killer Instinct:

At around 2:30 into the video, Rettig’s character starts dealing out some punishment to Williams. She complains, but Rettig then says “There you go. Just let it happen and it will be over soon.”

Later, Rettig says “You like this” and Wiliams replies “No, I don’t like this.”

XBONE indeed.