There’s nothing sadder in business than a restaurant in its dying days. During those last several weeks, the restaurant’s owner will do anything to keep it afloat. Kids eat free day, a bad brunch menu, coupons…whatever it takes to just get people in the door. Whatever inspired that person to start the restaurant in the first place has clearly been abandoned as they do whatever necessary to just keep the walls up a little longer.
That’s kind of where it feels like Microsoft is at with the Xbox One.
Microsoft wanted the Xbox One to be a digital-focused console that utilized motion controls to change the way you interacted with your entire home entertainment experience. Honestly, they abandoned that vision before they even properly launched the actual system.
From there, it felt like Microsoft just wanted to find a way to inspire those gamers who made the Xbox 360 one of the most successful consoles ever to return to the fold. They changed the hardware (twice), they expanded their backward compatibility program, they introduced an exciting new game streaming service, and the put the presentation focus back on the Xbox One’s games. Completely devoid of shame or the hopes of living up to some vision, they just did whatever was necessary to help make the Xbox One a sales success.
Sadly, all of it has done little more than help keep the walls up. The Xbox One lives on as a modestly successful modern console, but its clear to everyone that it is not a console that Microsoft is just trying to keep alive.
That begs the question: “How much longer should Microsoft actually stick with the Xbox One?”
There’s certainly an argument to be made that they are past that point. Considering the amount of work they put into the Xbox One X, you could even make the argument they would have been better off shelving that mid-life upgrade and using it as the foundation for an entirely new console. After all, a more powerful version of a console that was already more powerful than its more successful competition is kind of a tough sell.
Of course, it’s not as easy as just waving goodbye to the Xbox One and saying hello to whatever is next. After all, Microsoft needs to find a way to give people who aren’t that excited about the Xbox One a reason to care about buying a new Xbox console at all.
That’s where things get tricky. The PlayStation 4 is cheaper, arguably has a deeper library, and certainly has a larger userbase. Getting its fans to buy a new console is going to be tricky. The Nintendo Switch offers something that Microsoft realistically can’t directly emulate. Meanwhile, PC gamers continue to benefit from Microsoft’s Play Anywhere initiative which brings many of the Xbox One’s biggest exclusives to that platform.
As it stands, Microsoft is in both a desperate need to rid themselves of the Xbox One and in no position to realistically do so. After all, what could they do with a new console that they haven’t already tried to do with the Xbox One at this point?