Episode 22 - The State of Gaming: Microsoft

Microsoft really has come a long way in gaming since the original Xbox was released in 2001. As with all of the other large console makers, they’ve had their ups and downs. The original vision has taken some time to be fully realized, but it seems that the pieces are all falling into place in present day. In this episode, Aaron and Chris round out the State of Gaming series focused on console makers, detailing the past, present, and future of Microsoft’s Xbox gaming division. Despite some rocky beginnings, the Xbox has become a household name across the world—a testament to the successful execution of a bold strategy to get into an already-crowded industry. The gamers discuss the ups and downs of the Xbox consoles and offer their thoughts of the future of the brand. Do they have what it takes to stand toe-to-toe to an emboldened Sony? In the assignments segment, Chris shares his thoughts on Dragon Quest Builders, and Aaron tackles Tropico 5… or was that 4?

Show Notes:

  1. BCG Discussion Topic of the Week - State of Gaming: Microsoft
    -Xbox Beginnings
      -The “DirectX Box” was a pitch made to Bill Gates by an internal team that wanted to get Microsoft into the console business
      -Original concept was designed around hardware that was roughly twice as powerful as PS2, used Windows 2000 to make development easy and consistent across platforms
      -Microsoft cut the price to $199 from $299 in an attempt to buy their way into the lead as the console was never profitable on a per unit basis
      -System looked like a slightly smaller PC and the controller is one of the worst in console history
    -Halo: A Giant is Born
      -Halo is arguably one of the greatest launch titles of all time
      -Console first person shooter that actually achieved Goldeneye levels of success
      -Unique in that the single player campaign was beloved as much as the multiplayer experience
    -The Race to Lock up Exclusives
      -Microsoft made a big push to court the Japanese market investing in studios such as Mistwalker (Sakaguchi) to develop RPGs
      -Big Titles of the First Gen:  Forza, Fable, Ninja Gaiden, Bioware:  KOTOR, Jade Empire
    -Xbox Live
      -Pioneered the concept of a paid online console experience.  Even though Sony’s service was free, it was clear that people were willing to pay Microsoft for a better experience
      -This may have been the biggest reason that the Xbox 360 led the PS3 - people on the fence ended up buying the console where most of their friends were playing online
    -Red Ring of Death
      -Common hardware failure that kept causing fatal errors
      -Microsoft took a $1B charge to cover the additional warranty extensions and repairs
      -Did this ultimately cost Microsoft’s reputation that led to them losing ground in the current generation or was this just an expensive manufacturing error?
    -Xbox One: You WILL Use Kinect!
      -Long list of features the Microsoft seemed to be dictating to the public: Kinect, internet connection, DRM, etc.
      -Sony pounced on this and went the other direction - something I don’t feel Microsoft ever recovered from even though they fixed all of this prior to release
    -Xbox and Windows: United!
      -Future focus is clearly on presenting Windows and Xbox as one single platform
      -As we’ve said in prior episodes, we think this is an exceptional idea
      -Reduces overall costs of development, both hardware and software
      -Vastly increases the player base
      -Blurs the line between “console” and “PC” gamers -- they’re all one and the same!
  2. Game Assignments
    -Last Episode's Assignments: Chris - Dragon Quest Builders (PS4); Aaron - Tropico 5... err 4
    -Next Episode's Assignments: Chris - Civilization 6 (PC); Aaron - Please, Don't Touch Anything (PC)