Killing the Messenger: How Microsoft Will Regain the Xbox One Narrative
The Xbox One has an image problem. Ever since a certain Microsoft employee spilled the beans about the Xbox One’s always-online function back in April, the company that Bill Gates founded has had trouble controlling all the nasty rumors being spread about their next-gen console. Things only got worse when the Xbox One was officially unveiled, as the televised press conference seemingly confirmed every negative aspect about the console like its online connectivity addiction and needing an all-seeing Kinect device to run. Microsoft certainly didn’t do themselves any favors afterwards by sending out one contradicting statement after another about the used games policy and later blaming the press for misrepresenting the facts.
With the recent clarification of the Xbox One’s policies on pre-owned games, it looks like Microsoft is doing everything they can to regain the narrative they’ve lost some time ago and shape it to anything unrelated to George Orwell’s 1984. Unfortunately, it looks like Microsoft is doing this by ignoring the ones who were only doing their jobs reporting every unpopular fact about the console: the gaming media.
Tomorrow, TV audiences everywhere will watch Spike’s E3 coverage of Microsoft’s (and EA’s) conference and nothing more. They’ll see many representatives from Microsoft display all the Xbox One games they promised, with applause either coming from the press or from Microsoft employees hidden in the back. What the TV and online audience won’t see from Microsoft’s E3 conference are any independent gaming journalist asking post-show questions or holding one-one-one interviews about the Xbox One, because Microsoft had them cancelled. While the TV personalities Microsoft hired are bound to score exclusive Xbox One information, the likelihood of them asking the hard-hitting questions that still need to be answered about the system are slim.
Burning questions like:
- How will people play Xbox One games if Xbox Live ever goes down for maintenance or suffer server problems?
- How will deployed military soldiers be able to play on Xbox One, when their online sources are so few?
- Will renting Xbox One games from GameFly or Redbox ever be possible?
- Will the servers registering every Xbox One game license to a user’s account be up and running when the next Microsoft console comes out?
- Are their limits to how much a publisher could charge for a used game activation fee, or how long they could block them?
While Microsoft deserves some recognition for ripping off the band aid of their used game policy as Sony slowly peels away at it, they need to apply further medication to the wound. With the success of the Xbox One possibly determining the way people play and buy video games for years to come, the press need answers on what the console will and won’t do to better inform their readers. Microsoft putting their fingers in their ears and going “la la la” to the gaming media only adds to their arrogant and anti-consumer image they recently developed. It also makes people believe in ugly rumors like the Xbox One being underclocked to avoid another Red Ring of Death, or Microsoft hiring users to post positive messages about the Xbox One.
If Microsoft wants to fix the Xbox One’s atrocious image, then they need to listen to consumers and deliver crystal clear information about their system. Shoving the press away during E3, the biggest gaming convention there is, will only result in Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot again. And with negative Xbox One articles, videos, and memes growing everyday, Microsoft doesn’t have any more toes to spare.