Home Gaming Xbox One listening to the consumers was a big mistake

Xbox One listening to the consumers was a big mistake

3 min read

Xbox One

It’s not easy when you’re trying to outdo your competition. Innovation can widen that gap between success and failure, but most of the time, consumers don’t want things to change. That’s the case with the Xbox One, as Microsoft scrapped many of its ideas for that console, because of consumer outrage. Some of those ideas needed to go. But they also cost us several other features which would have been cool. And that’s a big mistake, says one veteran game designer.

Speaking to GI.biz at the GameLab conference in Barcelona last month, Schell Games founder Jesse Schell says that Microsoft should have never bowed to consumer pressure. “Your customers want you to stay the same, even if it drives you into the ground,” Schell said.

Somehow, Microsoft didn’t seem to think that would be a reality, or even a problem. The reality is that they can’t do what the customers want.

Basically, Microsoft said, ‘We’re going to be Steam. You like Steam, don’t you?’ And we all said, ‘No, we hate that. We hate you. You’re an idiot to do that.’ They came out and said, ‘We’re gonna do this new thing.’ And the customers said, ‘No, we don’t want that, we hate that’ – even though it’s what they really want and what they will ultimately buy.

So now Microsoft has had to say they won’t do all that stuff, but someone will.

That’s the problem with innovation according to Schell, because companies that do so, often find themselves dead and buried thanks to stubborn consumers.“That’s how it always goes,” Schell said.

This is the lesson of the innovator’s dilemma. Why is it that big companies fail when the technology changes? It happens in every industry, so what’s the pattern? What are they all doing wrong?

Everyone says, ‘Oh, it’s because they’re stupid. Big companies are stupid.’ They can’t be stupid. How did they get that big and stay that big if they’re stupid? Microsoft isn’t stupid. There’s one mistake that they all make, and that mistake is listening to their customers.

The problem is that the hardcore folks always want the same thing: ‘We want exactly what you gave us before, but it has to be completely different.’

When you want to do something really different – the solution to the innovator’s dilemma – you can’t take your big brand and say it’s going to be completely different. You need to set up something up on the side, and big companies are hesitant to do that. It’s how Valve could do it [with Steam], because they had nothing before.

I suspect that we’re going to end up in that world. Are we going to end up there on these consoles? I don’t know. It could be that some dark horse shows up. It could be that Apple shows up. It could be that somebody finds a better way.

Schell makes some good points. And I’ve always felt that the Xbox One had the technology to pull this stuff off. It just doesn’t want to apply that train of thought into a practical scenario though, without the guarantee that it wouldn’t lose some cash.

This is the the thought process that has resulted in digital games costing exactly the same as physical copies of games, because console giants don’t want to take too much of a big risk. And honestly, the only way we’ll move forward is if one of the big three puts on some big boy pants and takes that plunge. Because if they’re successful, they’re going to be kicking themselves for not doing this sooner.

Last Updated: August 6, 2013


  1. iPrimal

    August 6, 2013 at 14:05

    To be fair, I all I wanted were better graphics. If the future is me not actually owning my games, I’ll live in the past.


    • Boris Becker

      August 6, 2013 at 14:30

      Me too … If I buy the game but not really own it then why buy it ?


    • Ultimo_Cleric N7

      August 6, 2013 at 14:48

      Well said!


    • ALKi1234

      August 6, 2013 at 15:04

      The message i got from M$….”we will milk gamer’s from all angles”. It’s like stealing from the poor,not cool man.


  2. Martin du preez

    August 6, 2013 at 14:07

    Sure the Xbox One had the technology to pull this stuff off. But would that have worked everywhere in the world? Nope. Consumers want simplicity not a product that makes things complicated.


  3. InsanityFlea

    August 6, 2013 at 14:10

    Listen to customers, otherwise they wont buy it. Most of us have already got our mind set on the PS4. You have to take what the customer wants & what you intended and find a happy medium.


  4. Todor Doutchevitch

    August 6, 2013 at 14:21

    Well, he must be right. After all he has made so many quality games. I mean facebook would be a much duller place without his immence contribution. What business needs customers anyway.


  5. Kromas

    August 6, 2013 at 14:21

    He has one misconception. This approach only works in niche markets. If Sony did not exist yeah but BECAUSE Sony exists they can’t afford to just brush off the customer. If you don’t sell your console then all your innovation will go to waste.


  6. Deano

    August 6, 2013 at 14:25

    I agree with this guy, I think ppl are afraid of change and that original the Xbox one was going to be a beast of a machine, Even if most people/countries werent ready to embrace it, it would have sold them over once they saw it in action and noticed how much better it is.

    I think where MS stuffed up was their failure to get correct info out about features fast enough, and show off the new features doing cool things before all the negativity and consumer doubt set in.


    • Trevor Davies

      August 6, 2013 at 14:35

      Yes, their launch was not very well received because they didn’t explain what they were doing, and the way they responded to criticism afterwards just made things worse.


  7. Lardus-Wolverine

    August 6, 2013 at 14:31

    Microsoft did a bad job at marketing their new features. All they needed to get us to either embrace the new features or not be too outraged, was to give us an “I am going offline now so please disable all those nifty features on my account until I get back online”. That would have made my choice obvious to stay where I am at the moment rather than contemplating jumping ship. I like new features unless they are forced on me when I do not need it!


  8. Boris Becker

    August 6, 2013 at 14:32

    MS just greedy , they could see how much money is in second hand gaming and they just want a piece of the pie … sorry more like control it


  9. No Longer SIR Twakkus

    August 6, 2013 at 14:37

    No Microsoft where idiots in throwing their toys out of the cot when the consumers complained. I give them credit for listening but instead of asking “Which of these features are driving this negativity towards our console?”, they plainly disabled EVERYTHING.
    The future is online, that’s unfortunately true, but approach it soberly and thoughtfully. If I want to buy a car, I want to OWN it and not rent it from the company who made it. That principle is basic, how come is it so difficult to understand?


  10. HvR

    August 6, 2013 at 14:39

    I know a very wise man (an quite successful entrepreneur) who says “You have to succeed despite your customer”

    Basically the customer doesn’t know what he/she wants until you CONVINCE them it is what you have.

    M$ couldn’t do that so they failed and had no option but to change.

    Also the comparison to Steam is BS.

    Steam is a online retailer/distributor that sell games at huge discounts with an upper cap of less than half of console games.

    So I sacrifice of being offline and selling 2nd hand for HUGE savings. In the words of Eric Cartman “I liked to be hugged and kissed before I GET F…..”


    • No Longer SIR Twakkus

      August 6, 2013 at 14:54

      Well the tablet market was artificially created so in a manner of speaking you are correct. But still, they could have done a better job of marketing it.
      Also why do you think steam sales exist? It is to lure the customers to stay on steam and buy games from their network instead of going to a retailer. With Microsoft and Sony it is a bit different because they publish for their own system. If you dont buy from them you wont be able play console games. Its not like PC where you can buy games and play it on a stand alone system without any affiliation to one or another company. I doubt Microsoft or Sony will have sales on their games and if they do, it wont be on the level of steam because there is no “real: motivation to do so.


      • HvR

        August 6, 2013 at 15:17

        The motivation is should be to get gamers to use model they want us to use where they potentially get a bigger slice of the pie and minimize the 2nd hand market.

        if they said always online can not sell 2nd hand but $45 max for a new game (in line with PC games) then Sony would have been blown out of the water.


    • Brady miaau

      August 6, 2013 at 15:34

      I think the steam comparison was more about the innovative new product thing you could do because the brand was not established yet.

      but yeah, some very good points


  11. FoxOneZA - X-Therminator

    August 6, 2013 at 14:42

    We’ve seen Blackberry, Nokia and Sony to a large extent go down this way. It’s quite scary that Japanese companies were once the leaders in technology and now they’ve fallen so far behind the Koreans and Chinese. The key being that companies like Samsung and Hyundai had no current user base to please so they go in all out with innovation.

    I remember why I got a console this generation. It wasn’t because of superior graphics, it was because PC gaming was dieing in 2006.


  12. Gavin Mannion

    August 6, 2013 at 14:48

    Microsoft biggest mistake was the always online requirement.. even after the #dealwithit fiasco they still thought it would be okay. Instead of taking those months to figure out how to offer their awesome tech with offline capability they steam rolled ahead.

    Someone in the organisation is stupid and is pushing their agenda to the detriment of the company.


    • No Longer SIR Twakkus

      August 6, 2013 at 14:57

      Exactly!!! Their was no introspection when the complaints started rolling in. And they saw the pre-orders where below expectation they just threw a tantrum and took away every bit of awesome tech which could have made their console king of the generation.


    • Lourens Jordaan

      August 6, 2013 at 16:41

      The problem was that the consumer wanted a choice. If the “innovative features” are there, he might try it and stick to it but he still wants the choice.


  13. OminousRain

    August 6, 2013 at 14:55

    There was 2 problems for me with XBOX One.

    1. It was the Always Online. Or the every 24 hour thing. However you want to see it. And you do not need to be Always Online with Steam. Only the first time you install your game.

    2. The main thing about console is that you could sell your game or borrow it to a friend. That was the one thing that made consoles better than PC.

    So I am not sure what they meant about being like Steam and people didn’t like that.


  14. Trevor Davies

    August 6, 2013 at 14:55

    Innovation & change doesn’t automatically mean good, and if you want to do something differently, what’s wrong with asking existing customers what improvements they would like? Inventing a new product doesn’t mean people want it, and they’re not obliged too, irrespective of how much work you put into it or how much money you feel it deserves.

    Innovation has become one of those words that everyone throws around without any real meaning behind it.

    MS came short because they did something new, but couldn’t communicate with the customers worth a damn, and as a result were flamed by consumers. They were forced to make changes to their new console to try limit the damage created by their own poor marketing. Maybe one day those features will be reintroduced & everyone will like them, maybe we’ll never know, but blaming customers for being unhappy with changes that don’t appear to be benefit them is foolish.


  15. Ross Woofels Mason

    August 6, 2013 at 14:56

    There was no reason Microsoft had to disable most of the “nifty” features the console had. They did that because they are salty.

    Microsoft’s biggest mistake in this entire thing was how they pitched it to us, the consumer. They did not come out showing me all the reason I would want an Xbox One, they came out showing all the restrictions of the xbox one.

    Not what is being enhanced, what is being thrown at the window or changed entirely.

    Yes contrary to popular belief the customer is not always right, but saying don’t listen to your consumers or bow to their pressure is retarded on a whole different level. Imo Microsoft did not do great market research when making the XB1 and it showed in the back lash.


  16. Craig Boonzaier

    August 6, 2013 at 15:02

    Steam still allows me to go into offline mode.


  17. Double-O-Six and a half

    August 6, 2013 at 15:02

    Yet another arrogant yank who believes that customers are there to serve at the pleasure of big corporations… I am sorry to say, I had never heard of James Schell and decided to find out what makes him such an expert…
    Having looked at his games catalogue on his website (none of which I have heard of, let alone played) I think I understand where he is coming from. It seems most of his game target market is aimed at children (and forgive me if I am wrong but I couldn’t find a single console game on their website) and sometimes children just need to do what they’re told rather than being given a choice…

    Unfortunately for him most of the console gamers happen to be adults and happen to believe in consumer choice which is all any of us wanted in the the first place… If you’re going to do something so radically different (James call s it innovate, I call it alienate) then at least give your customers who keep you in business a choice of whether to use it or not… Its when you force people to accept your “innovation” that you lose customers… I remember something like this being touted once before, it was called communism and meant “big brother” decided what you got, when you got it and how you could use it…!


  18. Brian Murphy

    August 6, 2013 at 15:05

    Clearly this developer forgets that there are a great many people who don’t have a consistent or stable enough data stream to take advantage of steam, let alone what the One will be offering. That’s the point that apparently the meatheads at Microsoft, and this idiot developer simply don’t understand.

    Yes, one day everyone will be connected, and we’ll all have at least some portion of our library in digital form (some may have all), but the day when everyone has equal access to bandwidth isn’t here yet, and it won’t be here for quite some time.

    You can pack as much technology and innovation into a gizmo as you want, but it won’t change the fact that a great deal of your target audience can’t enjoy or make use of those innovations without an adequate and stable ISP.

    You say everyone likes Steam, aside from a generalization you cannot possibly back up with hard facts, it’s true a great many people like steam. You know what else they like? The fact that you can register your physically owned games, through steam, have them part of the games list, and launch them from the steam platform/connect with friends from steam to play in said game.

    Even Valve realizes that physical games aren’t going anywhere soon, and have made exceptions where necessary. Adding innovation is great, as long as you don’t forget where your roots lay. The overwhelmingly negative response to the One, should tell Microsoft that people are neither ready, or capable of enjoying all that the One is offering, and should make every attempt to allow users the ability to do what they want with consoles…and that is to throw a disc in, and play a game by yourself without having to worry about checking in with big brother, or having kinect verify your retinal pattern.


  19. Mabenito

    August 6, 2013 at 15:36

    Geez guys. What’s up with the essay today…? Poetic Tuesday? Come on….


  20. I am John's smirking revenge

    August 6, 2013 at 16:27

    Yes, because always online was such a great idea and everyone was standing in line to buy the Xbone because of it.


    • Stigmata101

      August 7, 2013 at 08:02

      always online is not a big problem. in fact almost all PC gamers have a always on connection. besides my PS3 is always connected, so is my TV and Blu-Ray. And so will my next console.


  21. Mossel

    August 7, 2013 at 08:01

    “The customer can have any colour he wants, as long as it’s black.” – Henry Ford


  22. Don Mattrick

    August 7, 2013 at 08:27

    The problem with the way MS communicated to their customers was the arrogance they displayed in dictating their terms to the public! “If you don’t have internet get a XBox 360!” C’mon! You can’t insult your customer like that! Plus, who wants to have an always connected console that loses it’s key functionality when the internet is not available. The internet connection can go down. Just a fact. Why would a consumer also want a console where you can’t play prepaid games and swap games with friends? Just common sense! I actually wished MS went ahead with their original plan!



  23. Circuitflow

    August 7, 2013 at 14:32

    What an idiot for saying “Dont listen to your Customers”….. really>> are you fucking STUPID!.. dont listen to the people that buy your product!! #WTF Thank the stars that MS actauly do listen to their customers


  24. Zanten

    August 7, 2013 at 21:18

    The only person who said it was going to be Steam was an anonymous posting on pastebin. You know, the same pastebin site that had the anonymous posting about family share being timed demo? So if were going to believe one, then clearly we should believe the other, correct? It drives me crazy how everyone claims that Microsoft was promising this sort of thing, because they weren’t. They could have done absolutely nothing in terms of steam sales or convenience, and technically they never would have lied to us because statements weren’t coming from an official Microsoft source.

    As for not listening to customers, by the way things were going with their projected sales, not listening was what was going to drive them into the ground. And considerably faster than listening ever would have.


  25. Matthew Bryant

    August 7, 2013 at 23:24

    These articles are about the epitome of stupidity. Seriously, what innovation was Microsoft trying to offer consumers? What benefit did the consumers receive? Family sharing plan? They can already do this with digital titles without any problems. They claimed that always online would offer some amazing innovations, but they provided no proof of that. It was a whole lot of “Come with us to the future!” with absolutely no reasons why the future is a better place. Beyond that, Microsoft didn’t listen to consumers, they listened to pre-orders. If you can’t realize that obvious reality, then you shouldn’t be in journalism.


  26. G-Bats

    August 8, 2013 at 04:36

    It wasnt the features that made gamers turn on MS, gamers welcome innovation and change… but only if its for the better. Smashing a tonne of restrictions and stuff behind pay walls are not the way forward. It tells only of a company having no respect for its customer base and believing that they’ll buy it and they’ll like it.

    It doesnt take a business wizard to see that was a stupid mistake, companies dont have to be stupid, but they can make some very stupid ideas. Hence the original plan for the Xbox one


  27. Trebor

    August 8, 2013 at 22:22

    Wow … What can I say to this ? Has anyone ever heard the phrase ” The customer is always right !. Let me remind you of a few companies that thought they could JUST NOT LISTEN TO CUSTOMERS ! 1. IBM ( They use to be No 1 in their field. They even had the chance to buy DOS in the beginning , but failed. 2. CBS ( It was unheard of not watching NFL football on CBS for all those years, but a little company called FOX stole it from them. 3. Wal-Mart ( Why do you think they are successful ? …. Duh ! … THE CUSTOMERS. 4. I could go on and on … Remember these. Xerox, Curtis Mathis Televisions, RCA, Zenith, Nintendo. In conclusion, customers do want change, but companies should take in consideration of all their desires and wishes. The greatest important formula for a business is simple ….. ” Supply and Demand ! “. Somewhere in this formula is the almighty Customer ! ….. Microsoft … Please ! The next time you have a board meeting …. invite some of your customers !


  28. Natty Dave

    August 8, 2013 at 22:46

    you know who says the customer is always right? the customers, reality is, the customer is usually just an asshole who will spit in your face for going against them, or rob you blind if you listen


  29. Levi Gratton

    August 10, 2013 at 22:52

    If you want to be Steam, that’s great, but don’t completely drown the consumer base in one console switch. We’re already playing Steam, why do we want another Steam? We’re also getting Steam Box, why do we want a Steam Box that focuses less on games and more on other shit? Steam Box is what it is and it’s committed to it.

    Sony knows what it is and if they are going to change, they do it incrementally, that’s intelligent.


  30. Danny Crask

    August 21, 2013 at 17:20

    Steam is Steam, and it is for computers!! Computers that have a constant internet connection I may add, people who use computers are used to that hence why they have a fucking computer!!

    Consoles should always be consoles, because it works!! You buy a game in a shop or online, you take it out of the box and put it in the fucking thing!! Whoopdi whoop!! After that you can sell it to a friend, use it as a coaster or throw it at your wife when she pisses you off because its fucking yours!! Its easy peasy!! Yeh, give us an option to buy a game online for the people who wish to, the people who have a constant internet connection and a fast one at that (unlike my shitty piece of shit broadbandl) but don’t take away their rights to do what the fuck they want with it just because its digital. If I buy something lemme lend it to someone or sell it to someone if I get pissed off or bored with it wipe my ass with it.

    I have alot of friends with no internet and some with shitty internet who love to play their consoles and have no interest in online, if they wanted steam they’d have great internet and a beast of a computer! but they don’t, they wanna go out and buy a console – get some games go home and play with themselves!!.. (hehe) alone!! Without Microsoft sticking its stinky big green pinky up their butthole every 24hours to make sure their safe and secure..

    Consoles are not computers that’s why people like them so much..
    pfffft this is such a stupid fucking article..

    *Darryn Bonthuys gives head for chewits


  31. Brandon

    September 20, 2013 at 05:03

    Steam lets you play games offline, and it has since the start. So basically Microsoft said, “You like Steam? Well we’re going to take that idea and ruin it, just for you”. That’s what I was upset about. I shouldn’t need to constantly check in to play my games offline. Any market research should of shown them that they are cutting out a large portion of the market by requiring the console to always be online. Not everyone lives in the city with 100% reliable internet.


  32. RustyIII

    March 4, 2014 at 18:59

    What a pathetic excuse! This is exactly what threw core customers of xbox off! This guy is full of arrogance, “problem being listening to the customers” pfah! don’t make me laugh!
    I just as any other enthusiastic customer was waiting full of anticipation for the next generation consoles and all the NEW INNOVATIVE FEATURES it may bring. If anything as customers we want to be amazed with the new and be done with the old. This was never the issue! the Issue wasn’t the innovation Microsoft brought with XBOX-one, (though It definitely could have been more oriented towards gaming) but was in their total arrogant attitude to their customers. All this crap on forcing out used games, online connection and so on had nothing to do with innovation. All innovative measures could have perfectly been provided without having to be online 24/7. I mean what’s the point? We can’t play offline? How is that innovative? No matter how you look at it, Microsoft had a nearly abusive attitude and displayed their plans arrogantly and THAT threw us off. And you know the worst part? Many xbox-fans now feel themselves forced, ashamed and ridiculed to turn to the PS4, not because PS4 is the better console, but because they feel deeply betrayed by Microsofts intentions on total control how pathetic is that!?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

Twelve Minutes Review – Stuck in a Mystery Time Loop

We’ve all experienced deja vu a few times in our lives, but what happens when you ha…