Top 3 points Xbox boss Phil Spencer needs to get working on
Last week, Microsoft announced the promotion of Phil Spencer to Head of Xbox. In his first public interview, Spencer revealed that he would be adopting a “Gaming First” approach as head honcho.
Xbox One trails behind Sony’s PS4 in sales. The pressure is on Spencer to turn this war around. Here’s what I believe are the top three points Phil needs to get cracking on Monday morning.
Fix the Xbox One dashboard
The Xbox One dashboard is a mess. Many features from the 360 are missing: Auto sign-in, viewing Achievements without loading into a new application, media servers. These are basic features that were able on day one for Xbox 360. The excuse that Xbox One is “a new device” holds little water. The console has been on store shelves for almost five months. It’s not as if the Xbox One was rushed; there was a gap of seven years between the 360 and Xbone.
Another important application that’s missing is Sky Go. The ability to watch on-demand and live Sky programmes on 360 is one of the biggest selling points of the console in the UK. According to Sky, they would prefer to focus on smartphones, tablets and mobile devices rather than create a complete new app for the Xbox One. A blow for Microsoft, They need to get on the blower to Sky.
Right now, Xbox One’s dashboard looks barren and a bit sad. Some more colours wouldn’t go amiss. Looking at the drab layout, I pine for the old Blades dashboard of the 360.
The perfect scenario would be an announcement of a dashboard update at E3 that would go live after the show.
Talking about E3…
Improve Microsoft’s E3 show
As inevitable as a COD sequel is an awkward moment (or twenty) at an E3 show. It’s not just Microsoft who delivers the cringe; it’s an industry wide problem. But Microsoft are the main offenders in the annual lowlights video.
Whilst these conferences use to be for the press and for gaming industry folk, the modern day E3 conference is very much for the core gamer. Microsoft’s show is broadcast live on Spike TV and streamed worldwide. Whilst, they’ve done away with the tables and stats, the show still needs a lot of changes.
Gaming industry suits are not expected to be Ryan Seacrest, which excuses the odd awkward pause and inadvertent joke. But these conferences need a capable host, it’s boggling that Microsoft has experienced presenter Larry Hyrb (a.k.a Major Nelson) backstage at every E3 rather than onstage. There needs to be more game footage and less awkward on-stage demonstrations. If you really need to demonstrate the new Kinect Sports, then do so in a pre-recorded video.
And no music acts. Ever.
Competitive pricing in the XBL store
Microsoft was seriously considering releasing the Xbox One without a disk drive. Thankfully they decided to include a Blu-Ray player. If not, Microsoft’s woes would’ve undoubtedly been worse than they are now.
FIFA 14 is available for £54.99 as a digital title. The game is readily available at GAME and Amazon for £42.99. Why digital titles are over £10 more expensive – despite not having the added cost of producing a cover and disc or the shipping costs, is a mystery. If digital titles are the future, then MS need to bring their prices down from the ridiculous level they’re on.
If Microsoft insists on charging a premium for digital games, then they should add incentives for downloadable titles. Titanfall was released on a Tuesday in the US and Friday in the UK. The reason for the three day delay was because Tuesday is ‘Video Game Day’ in the US and Friday is our equivalent on these shores. Microsoft could’ve very well offered a digital copy of Titanfall for EU gamers on a Tuesday, allowing them to play the game earlier. Many gamers would be eager to pay more to play a game before the retail release date, even if it’s only for three extra days.
As it stands, the only advantage of digital titles is the luxury of not having to get up to put in a disc.
P.S – Bring back Shenmue!
In an interview, Spencer remarked that “The biggest request (we get) is to bring back Shenmue.” The comment was likely a joke at the fervent outcry for a continuation in the saga. When SEGA went through their Dreamcast re-mastering phase, the original Shenmue was notably absent. I and many others in the “Shenmue contingent” believe that if SEGA release an HD port of Shenmue I and II, many gamers would discover this gem and would join us in our plea for a new title.
Alas, Shenmue III remains a distant dream. But if Phil Spencer is serious about his “Gaming First” philosophy then maybe at E3, Shenmue fans will get the news we’ve waiting over a decade for…hopefully…