A decade is a very long period for an industry as big as the gaming industry. The ups and downs every great name in the business has experienced prove that the market is constantly evolving and it’s often volatile.
Xbox experienced bigger contrasting fortunes than its peers, however. Microsoft’s gaming brand did very well since 2010 even though the previous 10 years haven’t been really straightforward.
Here is a review of the last decade of Xbox, featuring both their highs and lows, as the next decade alongside the Xbox Series X is right around the corner.
We’ll start this list with (arguably) one of the most controversial products that wore the Xbox logo: The Kinect.
Xbox 360 sales were nearing the 40 million mark in January 2010 and a total of 80 million units have been sold by the point when the Xbox One was launched.
The Kinect was definitely innovative, being the market’s first truly potent and fully controller-free experience. It gave developers the option to add new realms of immersiveness to their games, either to games that were Kinect-based or those who used it only as an add-on. Titles like Kinect adventures or Kinectimals were big hits among gamers but overall it was considered a niche market, which meant that demand was considerably lower than in big AAA titles. Some games failed to make the most out of Kinect, while others made gaming a lot easier: Skyrim (the Kinect enabled edition) surprised us with the ability to use Kinect in combat (which was clunky … at best) but the fact that gamers could say the weapon or spell that they desired to use in combat and the game would automatically swap to that specific requirement took the RPG to a whole new level.
The Kinect for Xbox One was totally superior to its Xbox 360 counterpart but it was also … shady. At first, there were some problems (or features, as Microsoft officials like to call them) that made the device be permanently on (which meant that not only it could listen to and understand whatever you said), but it would also accurately track all your movements.
The redemption of the Xbox
The damage that was done by the Kinect for Xbox One clearly affected Microsoft’s public image and decreased popularity because of the huge backlash that was created.
The crumbling image of the Xbox brand was a very serious issue for Microsoft. Phil Spencer was promoted to Head of Xbox, which helped refocus the main target of the brand and made gaming the sole purpose of the console once again. This is visible when you take a look at the dashboard of the console: after Spencer made some smart moves, gaming apps and tiles were put front and centered over other entertainment widgets. Microsoft finally listened to their fanbase: They gradually decreased the importance they gave to the Kinect and eventually discontinued it.
Perhaps the biggest success of Microsoft in the Xbox One lineup was the backward compatibility feature, which was announced way back at E3 2015. The community acknowledged Microsoft’s effort to sort out their past mistakes. All that was required was a physical copy of the game.
The Games with Gold initiative allowed gamers to download a total of four games monthly with an Xbox Live subscription (and the tradition lives on). Microsoft also introduced cross-platform capabilities, which might, over time, put an end to the decades-old “PlayStation vs Xbox war”.