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Xbox Originator: "Stupid, Stupid Xbox!!" 245

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-mince-words;-tell-us-what-you-really-think dept.
Freshly Exhumed writes "You can't begrudge Nat Brown for claiming some pride in the birth of Microsoft's game console: 'I was a founder of the original xBox project at Microsoft and gave it its name. Almost 14 years after the painful, pointless, and idiotic internal cage-match to get it started and funded, the hard selling of a compelling and lucrative living-room product to Bill (and then Steve as he began to take over), a product that consumers would want and love and demand, I am actually still thrilled to see how far it has come...' But in his recent ILIKE.CODE blog post he is driven to lament that '...as usual, Microsoft has jumped its own shark and is out stomping through the weeds planning and talking about far-flung future strategies in interactive television and original programming partnerships with big dying media companies when their core product, their home town is on fire, their soldiers, their developers, are tired and deserting, and their supply-lines are broken.' Nat goes on to detail a list of Microsoft's past and present strategic Xbox blunders, while tossing some barbs towards Nintendo's and Sony's game console strategies."
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Xbox Originator: "Stupid, Stupid Xbox!!"

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  • Primary Problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_Bionic_lemming (446569) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @01:20AM (#42879815)

    It's the interface. It sucks. I bought a machine to game on, not one to sell me other crap. Two years ago when they changed to pre metro I boxed up the x-box and games and gave it to my nephews.

    X-Box is doomed. Simply because it's not about gaming, but all about sales.

    • by maxdread (1769548) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @01:26AM (#42879865)

      And yet you can have it boot directly to whatever game is in the drive. Wouldn't impact your gaming at all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Agreed. That is why, even though the Xbox is very popular, there is no "halo effect" for other Microsoft products like Zune or Windows Phone.

      People merely put up with the thing because it plays Halo, they have no love for the device itself.

    • What console hasn't been about sales? Pretty much all of the best selling ones were sold at either a loss or a very tiny profit margin so that they could make money off of selling the games. Effectively just a computer designed for content consumption.

      Now they're simply adding more content to consume. Makes sense for the consumer when you think about it - no need turn it off, turn on another device, and change inputs when you switch from playing a game to watching movies.

      The annoying thing about xbox though

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Seumas (6865)

        The new generation of consoles may end up being doomed *for gaming*. That isn't for certain, but it's possible. They've found a better market to sell the devices to (less than half of time spent on the 360 is spent playing video games). Gaming consoles used to be marketed toward gamers. Now they'll be catering and marketing to people who just want to watch Hulu and download the latest "music" video from the retarded flavor of the month.

        As someone who enjoys gaming, across the board, I'd be disappointed in t

        • by tepples (727027)

          Ditch your gaming fans and watch them flock to the PC.

          The PC doesn't fill the role of "a box with multiple controllers that you can bring out when friends are over" the way a console does.

    • It's the interface. It sucks. I bought a machine to game on, not one to sell me other crap. Two years ago when they changed to pre metro I boxed up the x-box and games and gave it to my nephews.

      X-Box is doomed. Simply because it's not about gaming, but all about sales.

      How much of your XBox time did you spend in the menu, and how much did you spend in the games?

      I'm guessing the ratio is heavily, HEAVILY weighted toward the latter. Your argument is absolutely ridiculous.

      • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @02:32AM (#42880279)

        DUDE.

        Dude.

        You have to press A to play the game.

        Dude.

        I hate pressing A, man. It reminds me of those M$ A-HOLES AMIRITE!!!

        • by SuiteSisterMary (123932) <slebrun@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @11:29AM (#42883825) Journal

          Actually, the thing I hate, in any modern game on any platform, is 'press start'. Why the fuck do games still have video arcade-style attract screens?

          Off the top of my head, Prototype 2 did it right; it loads your most recent save and starts playing it in the background under the menu. When you click 'continue,' the menu simply goes away and there you are.

          • Prototype 2 did it right; it loads your most recent save and starts playing it in the background under the menu. When you click 'continue,' the menu simply goes away and there you are.

            Animal Crossing series does almost the same thing: its attract mode shows NPCs walking around in your campaign's town. But because it supports up to four characters in a campaign, it cuts away to the menu to select a character after you press Start.

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Now that's the M$ way to win back customers, call them liars, insult them and blame them for all the problems. M$ did it to xbox red ring of death customers for months on end. Don't like the interface on the device you bought then you are an arse hole, ha, ha, ha. Every time they had real competition and customers complained about something or wanted changes or really hated something, well screw the whiny arse holes, it's like they 'er' paid for it and had some expectations as 'er' customers and treating t

    • Re:Primary Problem? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CAIMLAS (41445) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @05:09AM (#42880955) Homepage

      And how is "all about sales" any different than Sony or Nintendo's gaming platforms?

      It isn't. For that matter, how can gaming platforms like PCs with Steam be wildly popular and expanding into the platform market with the Steambox (while remaining wildly more popular than game platforms in general right now, I might add) exist when they are, essentially, JUST game sales and delivery systems?

      Sorry, the Xbox is floundering for the same reason that things like capable entry level Android tablets come to market at $100 and smartphones sell for $500+ and people barely even blink at the price. The truth is that platform gaming is dying, even with the novelty of things like Kinect. People don't really want to game on their TVs anymore, they want something personal. The TV has become peripheral to home/personal entertainment, not central, and when people can get 90% of the same thing with any given game console, or 70% of what those consoles offer and a little bit more with a modern set-top box, it makes very little financial sense to continue with the "sell the console at a loss" model that Microsoft popularized, never mind anything between that and the Nintendo approach. (Look at sales models - hardly any console did well this past Christmas.)

      The entire commercial idea of console gaming needs to be rethought and revitalized or it's simply not going to make a hill of beans how innovative they are.

      • by tepples (727027)

        People don't really want to game on their TVs anymore, they want something personal.

        Then what should people game on when they have friends visiting? Or would you recommend that they switch to non-electronic tabletop gaming? Or would you recommend that they should bring their own phone or tablet, and if they don't own one, it's too old, it's the wrong platform, or they don't own their own copy of a given game, tough dung?

    • by Seumas (6865)

      I hope I'm proven wrong, but I suspect that this entire coming generation of consoles is going to be about catering to soccer-moms and your elderly dad rather than improving your gaming experience and providing more power. Based on hinting over the last three years, I'm concerned that the view from the console manufacturers is that these are now home media and social devices that just happen to play games.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        Have you seen the proposed specs on the PS4 and next Xbox? They seem pretty powerful to just be targeting "soccer moms".

        • by xhrit (915936)
          Have you seen the proposed specs on the PS4 and next Xbox?

          Yes, I have. Both systems are built using mid range off-the-shelf PC components. The systems are not targeting hardcore gamers, but rather casuals and soccer moms.
        • Have you seen the proposed specs on the PS4 and next Xbox? They seem pretty powerful to just be targeting "soccer moms".

          Have you seen a soccer mom?..

    • The XBox 360 interface isn't any worse than PS3 or Wii, but yes it does need work. Certainly, I'd expect more from a company whose core business is user interfaces. The UI is also too sluggish.

      While I like the Kinect, those games should offer the ability to move through menus with the controller as well as with hand gestures. What takes me 20 or 30 seconds to do with hand gestures could be done in 5 seconds with a controller. This isn't rocket science - I'm not sure why nobody's made that happen or tha

      • The XBox 360 interface isn't any worse than PS3 or Wii, but yes it does need work. Certainly, I'd expect more from a company whose core business is user interfaces. The UI is also too sluggish.

        Where did you get this idea? MS rose on the ability to sell to OEMs OS and Office Productivity software. I don't know if you've been paying attention but UI design from MS has generally been very lacking. Take the ribbon which many users loathe. Metro is another example. Many people agree it's fine for touch interfaces but horrible for desktop.

        While I like the Kinect, those games should offer the ability to move through menus with the controller as well as with hand gestures. What takes me 20 or 30 seconds to do with hand gestures could be done in 5 seconds with a controller. This isn't rocket science - I'm not sure why nobody's made that happen or that it's not part of the XBox UI guidelines.

        Again UI isn't exactly their strong point. For example in WindowsMobile one guideline was that no clickable element should be smaller than 4mm square. That is

    • ..I find that practically every single comment in this article applies to the PS3 as well.
      Down to the bizarre warning that every game provides a custom icon for that means "saving, don't turn off". To add insult to injury, on the PS3 you have to click through a warning about the saving icon before starting every game, every single time.
  • by crafty.munchkin (1220528) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @01:21AM (#42879821)
    He'll try to convince them to can this stupid idea of linking all game purchases with a single xbox live account, and getting rid of the stupid "always-on" DRM requirement.
  • Bill needed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Didn't think i would ever say this...but have to admit Bill gates leaving MS was NOT the best thing to happen to MS. Srsly though ballmer is just pushing the MS car down the cliff.

    • Re:Bill needed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by YodasEvilTwin (2014446) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @01:59AM (#42880125) Homepage
      Everyone else long ago noticed how MS flatlined when Bill left, besides the fact that he was obviously a visionary and genius (and not half bad at business either). You may disagree with a ton of things he did, and rightly so on many of them, but you can't look at Microsoft's massive rise and Bill's obvious driving of said rise and go "Yeah, Bill leaving MS was the best thing that happened to them". It's patently ridiculous.
      • Re:Bill needed (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Captain Hook (923766) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @05:55AM (#42881255)
        Did MS flatline because Bill left, or was it always going to flatline around then because it MS had reached that point where it couldn't go after new markets without canniblising it's core income streams and competitors were lined up to take advantage of that.
        • Re:Bill needed (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @09:19AM (#42882393)

          No, it was when Bill left. A quick look at the history of Balmer shows that he is very big on slaying dragons but not very big on plundering their hoards. Even worse, he prefers to attack without a technological advantage, instead preferring to rely on the massive cash of MS. He took on Google with Bing, the Playstation with XBox, the iPod with Zune, the iPhone and Android with Windows Phone, the iPad with Surface RT, Java with .NET, and Flash with Silverlight. How many of these were big successes?

          Compare this to Jobs, who took failed and under-realized ideas (portable music player, tablets, digital music, etc.) and made them work well. Even their PCs and laptops are based on the system model that MS largely destroyed decades earlier in the home market, relegating it to scientific, business, and other specialized applications.

          The contrast is like night and day: one struck while the competitors were weak and executed well to carry the day; the other struck while the competitors were strong and executed mediocrily, at best, using massive cash to carry the day.

          • Re:Bill needed (Score:5, Interesting)

            by SerpentMage (13390) <[ChristianHGross] [at] [yahoo.ca]> on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @09:40AM (#42882551)

            it gets worse...

            With ballmer under control they took winning ideas and killed them. For example, .NET and C# did become very successful. What did they do? They killed it in the "new" paradigm called Windows 8.

            they had one of the most successful third party dev program and they killed it. Compare the price of MSDN universal when Gates was under control, and when Ballmer was under control. It is not funny! I did a price comparison of Linux, OSX, and Windows as a development environment for a small business or consultant. In this price comparison I included the price of hardware since you do need computers to run things.

            Guess which was the cheapest... Drum roll Linux. Guess which was the most expensive? Drum roll Windows, and by quite a bit! OSX was only a bit more expensive than Linux. Windows was just downright expensive when you add things like Office, Windows Server, MSDN development (not talking the universal package, just the 1200 USD package).

            What shocked me is that OSX is not that much more expensive than Linux. For hardware does cost quite a bit if you do an apples to apples comparison (excuse the pun). Granted that Apple is still more expensive for the same hardware, but it is not as much as I thought it was.

            • The main problem with Apple pricing on hardware is timing related. When they launch a new model of iMac or MacBook, it is usually competitive and just a bit more expensive than a Dell. Over time, it becomes less competitive as Apple does not adjust prices as often as Dell. Their Mac Pro line unfortunately has not been updated in any meaningful way in a long time.
              • When they launch a new model of iMac or MacBook, it is usually competitive and just a bit more expensive than a Dell.

                That's a really good point, they just don't refresh as often.

                I don't know what happened with the MacPro languishing, but at least they are on the cusp of a new model there from recent reports. But for development it has not mattered as much since any of the other updated macs are powerful enough to do good development on (even the Mac mini).

        • Did MS flatline because Bill left, or was it always going to flatline around then because it MS had reached that point where it couldn't go after new markets without canniblising it's core income streams and competitors were lined up to take advantage of that.

          Wait... BINGO! I've got BINGO!

      • by paiute (550198) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @08:41AM (#42882111)

        Everyone else long ago noticed how MS flatlined when Bill left, besides the fact that he was obviously a visionary and genius (and not half bad at business either). You may disagree with a ton of things he did, and rightly so on many of them, but you can't look at Microsoft's massive rise and Bill's obvious driving of said rise and go "Yeah, Bill leaving MS was the best thing that happened to them". It's patently ridiculous.

        Son, all I remember about your visionary genius is when I saw his book - which was published in 1995 - in Barnes and Noble with a big red sticker on the front which read: Now Revised To Include The Internet.

        So much for the vision thing.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They need a new chair man.

    • Re:Bill needed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K (682162) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @02:03AM (#42880137) Homepage

      Ballmer is doing a bull run full ahead and don't care a bit about what the customers think. Not only the Xbox live account requirement is evidence of that but also the fact that the Windows 8 UI is something that's best useful for three year old kids and not useful for the advanced users.

      I suspect that Microsoft has had it's peak and now they are into the process and business model that we saw that many big computer corporations were following during the 70's and 80's where you locked the systems through obscurity. Next step would be a CPU class based licensing of Windows.

      The reason why M$ did grow big was that there was not much heavy copy-protection and license key mess in the beginning. People copied the OS from work to run at home as well and so on. It may have been a lost sale, but not many home users would have purchased the full license anyway.

      • by rochrist (844809)
        I just got a new laptop with windows 8, and I'm just flat out stunned at how awful the interface is. I didn't have it an hour before I bought Start 8. and even with that running, the interface STILL makes me want to stab myself in the eyeballs.
      • Next step would be a CPU class based licensing of Windows.

        Not to the degree that the old-school enterprise players (IBM and Oracle, say) do it; but Windows licensing has already been spec based for quite some time now. As far back as NT 4.0, there was 'server' and 'enterprise server'(if you wanted 3GB of RAM per-process and an 8 CPU SMP license).

        2000 brought 'server', 'advanced server', and 'datacenter server' (4CPU), (8CPU, 8GB RAM w/PAE), and (32CPU, 32GB RAM w/PAE) respectively.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Next step would be a CPU class based licensing of Windows.

        Windows did do that actually.

        If you installed Windwos XP Home, it will run on a dual core, but NOT dual socket machine. Dual socket means you need XP pro.

        And for a time, NT was sold as a 1-2 CPU pack and 3+ CPU pack. And to keep it up, the old DOS line Windows only supported 1 CPU - you were encouraged to move to NT if you had a dual proc machine.

  • by goodmanj (234846) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @01:54AM (#42880101)

    Oh look, it's another retired general bitching about how much better things were when he led the army. File this one under W for 'Wozniak'.

    • Oh look, it's another retired general bitching about how much better things were when he led the army. File this one under W for 'Wozniak'.

      The Woz probably isn't the best comparison: In this rant, the guy who kicked off MS' Xbox strategy is complaining about how MS is fucking up Xbox strategy. In the case of Wozniak, Apple's original hardware-hacker-geek occasionally laments the fact that a company that bears almost no resemblance to the "Apple" of his era except the name now produces products that don't even pretend to be interested in the likes of him.

    • by natbro (697124) * <natbro.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:12AM (#42882897) Homepage
      i never claimed to have run the army. at best i was a grunt-turned-sergeant-awkwardly-promoted-to-captain who had the ears of the generals because i knew what we could build, who could build it, and i could describe it to everybody - i was boots on the ground. i'm just pointing out that i think the current strategy is wrong and will likely fail, not that i was running it better back in the day.
  • by Tagged_84 (1144281) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @01:56AM (#42880117) Homepage
    The number 1 issue I have with MS and Xbox is that even after paying around $60 a year for their service I still get bombarded with advertisements covering upwards of HALF my f*cking screen!!! Where the hell is the money going if it's not going towards paying to have a clean, ad-free service?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Few things make you seem as ignorant as when you insist on typing "X-Box" instead of "Xbox". I'm the biggest fucking grammar Nazi on the planet, but "Xbox" is a fixed string as it's a trademark. It doesn't matter if it "should" be "X-Box" or "X-box" or whatever -- it's *a fact* that it's "Xbox".

  • I have never found myself comfortable with any gaming consoles. My fingers have never been able to get the hang of the consoles. I think the future, the human race will be divided into 4 groups of evolved species with differing hand configurations - the consolers, the keyboarders, the swipers and the rest of the world. Let the games begin!
    • I think the future, the human race will be divided into 4 groups of evolved species with differing hand configurations - the consolers, the keyboarders, the swipers and the rest of the world.

      Except evolution requires reproduction, which is a rare event amongst the first three groups.

  • TLDR Version (Score:5, Informative)

    by wienerschnizzel (1409447) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @05:02AM (#42880923)

    Ok, these are the ACTUAL complaints in the article:

    1) Microsoft has purposefully locked out small developers from contributing to XBox.

    2) Cluttered interface that bombards the user with unnecessary and confusing pop-ups.

    3) Apple may be able to get control of the console business if they open up their Apple Store ecosystem to Apple TV

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      #1 is bullshit. With XNA, it's WAY easier for indies to develop for xbox than any other console.

      • For one thing, everything has to be rewritten line-by-line in C#. For another, only ten countries can buy XNA games. Finally, a letter to MVPs [computeran...ogames.com] implies that XNA is likely to go unsupported soon.
  • It's interesting to see the person who named it format the name - properly, I assume - as xBox, not XBox or Xbox. I rarely see it in the correct style, but it hasn't registered before, unlike the Mac/MAC or iPod/IPod/Ipod errors I see all too often.
    • by paiute (550198)
      After I posted this, I read the comments and looked at the official site. Apparently they changed somewhere along the line to Xbox.
  • is the real problem is they wouldn't listen to him, he no longer works there, and now he's bitter.

    If he wanted to get another point across he shouldn't have wrote the article like an angry ex.

  • His main gripe seems to be around the 10,000$ fee to be able to develop xbox content.

    While I get his point that they might be excluding many young innovative Indy game developers, they are also protecting themselves from the 99% that are not but would try to develop some crap anyway. This way you only get those people that are really serious about making a game. I mean for a start up business, 10,000$ for access to sell your product to HOW many users, is not a big deal. It is to make sure that only quality

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