The popular theory that no press is bad press was put to the test for Microsoft when their unveiling of the Xbox One was met with a series of very humorous memes, and a stunningly low approval rating, that many would have a hard time calling good press.
As bad as it was though, it’s not exactly the worst tragedy in the history of mankind, the video game industry or, for that matter, even Microsoft’s gaming division.
So while the controversial Xbox One may prove to be their biggest bust of all, for now let’s all keep things in perspective by revisiting the top five biggest mistakes Microsoft has ever made.
5. The Duke
A controller is one of the most important parts of launching a video game system, and when that system is your first one ever, may even come to define part of your image for all time.
If that is true, then unfortunately part of Microsoft’s image will always be that of a big fat failure.
“The Duke” as it would commonly be referred to, was a gargantuan gaming controller recognized by Guiness as one of the largest of all time, and by everyone else as one of the worst. Awkward for most, and impossible for some, “The Duke” would later be phased out in favor of the Japanese model “Controller S.”
Though it would lead to one of best controller designs of all time in the “360 Wireless,” few will ever forget the pain and hand aches associated with “The Duke.”
Though Blu-Ray hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in the way that DVD’s did, Toshiba’s similar “HD-DVD” format didn’t even make a spark.
Yet when it came time to support a next-gen disc format, which one do you think Microsoft chose?
In a way it’s difficult to fault them for doing so, since at that time the format wars were far fom resolved, and Sony was a big backer of Blu-Ray, but try telling that to everyone that jumped the gun and bought a 360 HD-DVD player, only to have it collecting dust along with a small stack of HD-DVD titles less than a year later.
3. Acquiring Rare
When Microsoft acquired developer Rare for a cool $375 million, it looked like they had pulled off one of the great gaming coups of all time. After all, Rare was only one of the most storied developers ever, and had produced the greatest N64 games this side of Nintendo.
Much like a brilliant assistant coach leaving Bill Belichick though, once Rare was free from the umbrella of Nintendo’s influence, they would flounder in the spotlight.
While the re-make of “Conker” for Xbox was fun, and the 360 launch game “Kameo: Elements of Power” was decent enough, it was that other 360 launch title “Perfect Dark Zero” that would define their future with Microsoft.
It’s a future that includes titles ranging from boring to broken, with hardly a commercial or critical hit to be found. While some gamers hold out hope for the glorious return of one of gaming’s most famed developers, or maybe just a new “Killer Instinct,” it’s looking less and less likely the 11 year old mega deal will ever pan out.
2. Lack of Support for the Japanese Market
As one of the first U.S. grown gaming systems to make it, Microsoft has always had a strained relationship with gamers from the land of the rising sun.
You could argue that they are up against a cultural barrier that isn’t entirely their fault, but from soft system launches in Japan to serious issues in successively seeking out major Japanese developer’s support, Microsoft has done no favors for themselves when trying to gain the support of the creatively, and financially, lucrative Japanese market.
In many ways it feels like they’ve completely written off the idea of ever really selling in Japan and, as a result, guarantee they will never be able to make a serious impact on their biggest rivals until they do.
1. The Red Rings of Death
Really, what else could it be?
The Xbox 360 did a lot of great things for gaming, but instead of being remembered for the brilliance of Xbox Live, or an assortment of classic titles, the lasting image of the 360 will always be blinking red lights indicating a massive system failure that almost every 360 owner has had to experience at some point, or at the least fear forever.
Though a return and re-furbish option became available, once you got the red rings, you never really escaped them, just as Microsoft would never be able to escape the issue, even late into the system’s life span when the lights would become far less prevalent.
Instead the red lights of death are Microsoft’s version of herpes, in that they dealt with it once, and it’s now with them forever.
Posted in: Editorial
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