Microsoft: We shouldn't have "sugar-coated" the Xbox One controversy

Xbox boss Phil Spencer says Microsoft's messaging about the console's controversial (and since-reversed) policies could have been handled better.

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Microsoft Studios executive Phil Spencer has acknowledged that Microsoft could have done a better job handling its messaging surrounding the Xbox One last summer. Fans will no doubt recall the original Xbox One announcement in May was muddied by confusion about the platform's online requirements and even more drama came to light when Microsoft revealed its controversial used game policy at E3 in June.

"I look at last summer and that wasn't a highpoint for me, coming out of the announcement of Xbox One and E3, where I thought our messaging around what we believed in was confused...mainly by us," Spencer said during a presentation at SXSW in Austin, Texas. The talk was captured by YouTube user gerrenlaquint.

Phil Spencer

Microsoft has since reversed some of its controversial Xbox One policies, dropping the requirement that the console be connected once per day and fully allowing used games. Now, Spencer and other Xbox executives are increasingly active on Twitter and other social networks. This was an intentional effort to better connect with fans.

"One of the reasons I wanted to be a little more active socially was because I knew the core of why we were in this industry was not an evil reason," Spencer said. "It was to really delight consumers and build a great product that millions and millions of people would love."

One of the lessons Spencer said he learned from the entire matter was that it's important to be upfront with consumers--especially when he's bringing news that some might not like.

"I learned a ton last summer as a leader of our groups and in our company about being true to your core vision around what a product is, not being confusing, and frankly, when you're going to say something to a consumer that might put them off, it's better to just be direct and honest, rather than trying to sugar-coat something that might be controversial," he said.

"I'd rather deal with the controversy of what we're doing, and have an above-table conversation about that topic, rather than trying to sugar-coat it with some other news," he added. "And, my interactions over the last six months, and I really think the interactions of [Xbox chief marketing and strategy officer Yusuf Mehdi] and [Xbox corporate vice president Marc Whitten] and other members of the leadership team--we had our meeting to build on what we learned last summer."

The Xbox One launched in November 2013 and sold more than 3 million units by the end of the year. Microsoft has not provided a new sales update for the platform in 2014.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Discussion

865 comments
Algearond
Algearond

Good. You guys are IMO doing a good job, keep it up and you should be in the tech business for years to come.

jdc6305
jdc6305

They'll find other ways to get money out of you cough....cough...microtransactions...cough. Lemmings are too stupid for their own good.

Ha2e
Ha2e

I remember when Major Nelson said the Xbox One's DRM could'nt just be turned off because   the system was built around it and "you can't just flip a switch"

BradBurns
BradBurns

That was a victory.

It's very comforting to see how popular backlash can submit even the most jaded corporation.

Remember, whenever a company tries to get over on the people they're selling their product to, it's important to make a lot of noise. Progress isn't made without struggle. When it comes to corporations, be obnoxious.

They don't have feelings.They only exist to make money, don't be polite. It's a common misconception people make; they confuse corporations for humans and give them personalities. Don't do that.

jark888
jark888

Xbox 360 without Skype is such a shame while XBL free games on March are huge insult to gamers. 


On the other hand, free Tomb Raider game on PS Plus reminded me the feeling of getting new favorite toy when I was a kid.

Azubedo
Azubedo

morelike "We shouldn't have acted like arrogant pieces of shit before we released our console 100$ above the competition and the fanbase disappeared."

Razorlight6
Razorlight6

Another apology? The Titanfall launch must not be going as well as they expected.

Foxhound1982
Foxhound1982

As much as i love my Xbox 360, and will no doubt invest in an Xbox One at some point. You can't get away from the fact that Microsoft is an appalling company, with a contemptuous attitude towards their customers. Run by appalling people, who make my skin crawl..........I feel better now.

kik4444
kik4444

So when were they releasing the cloud again?

Simulator_Shock
Simulator_Shock

It doesn't matter how much Microscam tries to fix their mistakes, I'm never buying an Xbox One. I already got screwed over way too many times with their defective consoles RRODing on me and getting charged with their BS auto-renews that they neglected to tell me about.

I am done with Xbox period. I bought a PS3 two years ago and sold my 360 shortly after. I would say my future in gaming looks pretty bright with PS4 and PC gaming.

charlesswann
charlesswann

Microsoft, largest sugar producer in America.

Shielder7
Shielder7

"I knew the core of why we were in this industry was not an evil reason,"

MS you're not even trying to lie to me anymore are you?

tachsniper
tachsniper

All SONY had to do to win this console war was listen to Microsoft, wait for the boooo's then come out and say "we're not doing whatever it is they just said they are doing"

translucent17
translucent17

microsoft needs to place a gag order on its employees.  Just stop talking, take a break, take a vacation, take a nap, just let it go.  If they want to make their costumers happy, sell the Kinect separately, stop forcing gold, get a flow of good games, and fade into history. 


obviously just my opinion.

omgitsdrlove
omgitsdrlove

This is hilllllllllarious :D :D :D
Microsoft failed hard with xbox one.
As with their marketing & policies just horrible!
They should take notes of Sony.

Kayweg
Kayweg

The funny thing about the hindsight wisdom of companies is, they'll do the exact same thing next time around.....because it pays.

And we'll fall for it again, because we so much want to believe 'em.

lilflipp
lilflipp

I just suddenly have huge nostalgia. Remembered blowing into my streets of rage 2 cartridge, or cutting of the sides of the asian version Castle of Illusion....

I'm gonna go look for my genesis.

john1wes
john1wes

Y'all complaining to much...don't buy the systems then...they both are better than last gen and will get better with time..it's all a beta wake up...money is no issue for me so I purchased both and since I did I don't touch my 360 or ps3..screw Nintendo I'm to grown for toys.. I love both but I call the xbox one my bestie

AncientDozer
AncientDozer

Um. . .

No shit?

It was almost as if your ENTIRE Marketing and PR team was asleep at the wheel or phoning it in. The only one awake was the guy who figured officially attaching a cute anime girl to Windows Explorer would help.

Centurion-Legio
Centurion-Legio

sounds like MS apologizing again. they seemed so sure of themselves 

marcopolo426
marcopolo426

This again is a cover up for even worse stuff they were planning to do with Kinect. Remember the always on policy they were planning for the Kinect camera so they can push advertising and check how many people were around. Ironically Phil says it better not to sugar coat. I'd like a apology bub. Not another sugar coated sob story to shift attention and make people forget.

blackace
blackace

@Algearond I think they are doing a good job trying to reverse all the negative hate they've been receiving. They just need t release the system without Kinect or drop the price down to $399 sometime in 2015 and they will be fine. I think the games during the E3 will speak for themselves.

blackace
blackace

@jdc6305 What microtransactions. lol!! You mean DLC like every single games has on all game console platforms? Ok.

blackace
blackace

@Ha2e They had to patch the O/S to remove it basically, so yes it wasn't something that could be done in 2secs. That's what he meant.

StokeMeAClipper
StokeMeAClipper

@BradBurns  Some of the points you made remind me of why I don't understand fanboys.

I actually saw someone write "I've been a proud XBOX fan since the original released" once.

It's not like they built the system or programmed the games for it. It is a product, and associating any self worth with a brand name is just plain misguided.

blackace
blackace

@jark888 Free games are an insult? LMAO!! When was anything free an insult. So Tomb Raider is an insult too then. What a  dumb comment.

blackace
blackace

@Azubedo Meantime over 4 million XB1 sold and the numbers are climbing. Especially once it launches in the other 30 countries that it still isn't in yet.

blackace
blackace

@Foxhound1982 Sony is worse. They've lied above everything in the past 3 generations and fanbase still embraced them like they are their parents. lol!! What a joke.

toyungu
toyungu

@Foxhound1982 i think our problem is we are too loyal. I personally knew xbox one would have problems but we get the device out of possible potential. 360 lived to its potential close to the end as did the original xbox. Hopefully xbox one gets to its potential early.

blackace
blackace

@kik4444 It's already running in 3 XB1 games (Forza 5, Powerstar Golf & Titanfall). It won't be fully utilized until 2015.

dogicus
dogicus

@charlesswann  There wasn't enough sugar in the WORLD for Windows 8. That's why they shut up about it.

dogicus
dogicus

@Shielder7  Yup. They make gaming consoles and Operating Systems to brainwash children into soldiers so they can attack Canada for the water.


You guessed it! Evil to the bone.

slaughterdj
slaughterdj

@tachsniper Well, they basically did that by making that video showing the game sharing thing. It helped them a lot but it was never going to be enough to "win" the console war. They still needed to prove themselves. That's exactly the dirty moves I find incredibly distasteful. It just reminds me of Presidential elections and why I don't vote. All they say is "the other guy sucks because...." and not "I'm awesome because...".

slaughterdj
slaughterdj

@translucent17 It's next gen. Everyone should have gold. Online gaming is a huge part of games these days.

djpetitte
djpetitte

@john1wes learn how to type and most likely talk properly. You sound like a damn fool.

lilflipp
lilflipp

@john1wesNo shit? The PS4 and Xbone are better than their predecessors. Imagine that! PS4 isn't better than the decade old PS3.


Consoles = toys, that includes the PS4 and xbox

You're playing video games remember?


I have my outstanding Wii U, my equally awesome 3DS. And my PC with 2x 770gtx on SLI.

The last one isn't just a toy. It's a tool.

AncientDozer
AncientDozer

@marcopolo426  

A lot of that was speculation, hearsay, rumor, and exaggeration. Or taken out of context.

jark888
jark888

@blackace @jark888  In fact, none of those games are free. It is an insult because I believe the majority of gamers would not like to play them. Not being smart yourself have no place to call others dumb. Protecting Microsoft(on other comments) like you work for them wasn't a cool move either. Tell me, honestly, would you rather play Tomb Raider or those two XBL games with Gold on March 2014?

dogicus
dogicus

@toyungu @Foxhound1982  Every single console past original Xbox has taken at least 3 years to become what they meant it to be. Unless you just have money to spend, or you don't mind being a beta tester, Xbox One customers currently are suckers. :P


Like I said, it won't be REALLY good until mid 2015.

BradBurns
BradBurns

@dogicus @Shielder7  Well, the very reason they exist is to make money. And that's it.

In a way, that makes all corporations evil to the bone, yes. If they were actually people, they'd be sociopaths.

xTheTrueSeekerx
xTheTrueSeekerx

I'm still waiting for them to prove themselves. Both launches were mediocre at best, but Microsoft is working hard at improving their system through updates and communicating with their fanbase. All I see from Sony are unnecessary commercials, and the ps4's mess of a ui will likely not see any updates for a long time. Something tells me this early Sony advantage will be short lived, seeing as Microsoft is much better at staying up to date.

translucent17
translucent17

@slaughterdj im talking about the fact that you have to have gold to use something like Netflix which you also have to pay for.  and whether or not you like online gaming doesn't mean gold should be forced, I personally don't play online.

djpetitte
djpetitte

@lilflipp


It's amazing how  dumb john1wes sounds just from him comment.  Sorry for anyone that read that garbage.