Xbox One's Problems Were "Predictable and Preventable," says Former Exec

Robbie Bach also praises Microsoft for getting console back on track and Xbox Live's momentum.


Former president of Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices Division, Robbie Bach, has discussed the company's Xbox One strategy and his vision of the next-generation of video game consoles.

In an interview with GeekWire, Bach was asked about the struggles Microsoft faced under Don Mattrick, who took over after Bach's departure.

"I have two thoughts," he replied. "The first is, gosh, I think some of that was predictable and preventable. If I'm just honest I would say that."

The problems alluded to in the interview, but not specifically cited, are likely the always-on internet requirement Microsoft originally planned to launch the Xbox One with. This aspect of the console, and the implications on digital rights management, received thunderous backlash, eventually resulting in Microsoft scrapping the initiative.

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According to Bach, Microsoft's follow-up console didn't do enough with the market gains the Xbox 360 had produced. He nevertheless praised the continued evolution of Xbox Live.

"You would have liked to have seen them done more with the momentum we had," he said. "On the other hand, look at what's going on with Xbox Live. Incredible momentum on Xbox Live.

"I can be a little critical. I could also say the team did what they needed to do," he added. "They persevered through a rocky patch, and they're now on the path to making this a very competitive market."

Moving to his second thought, Bach said Microsoft was in a much better position, as is the console market overall.

"These console competitions last 5, 6, 7, 8 years," he said. I think it shows in the marketplace today. I think Xbox One has put almost all of that [trouble] behind itself. They've got a great holiday lineup. They're gaining share and volume."

He continued: "The amazing thing is the console market is bigger now than it's ever been before. Both companies are selling more units...The year before PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launched, everybody said the console market was dead, and they wondered why Sony and Microsoft was doing it."

Digital-Only Future

Looking forward, Bach said he believes the next generation of hardware will "probably not" have physical media, and may adopt digital delivery as the sole method of content distribution.

"I think there will be another generation [of hardware]. What the console looks like is a very interesting question." he said. "Is it a game box or is it more? What's the balance between what an Apple TV is and what an Xbox or PlayStation 4 is? These are really interesting questions, and the teams [are] going to have to wrestle with those. The next generation will be a whole new game."

On July 30, 2015, Microsoft reported total Xbox revenue had grown by 27 percent compared to the same period in 2014. The increase was attributed to console sales, Xbox Live transactions, and first party game sales.

Xbox head Phil Spencer recently said he believes the surge in popularity of both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One shows the console business is still viable.

"We’ve sold a ton of Xbox Ones globally, more than we’ve sold 360s [in the same period]. We’re both doing really well, and I think Nintendo has a plan for the future--I don’t know what the NX is, but it’s great just to see the business being done."

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