As you might imagine for someone who writes for a website called Xbox Enthusiast, I love Xbox. I had an original Xbox, 3 Xbox 360s (1 downstairs, 1 upstairs, 1 in a bag always ready to take to friends’ houses), and currently own 2 Xbox Ones (an Xbox One X downstairs and an Xbox One S upstairs). I’m not oblivious to the short fallings of the hardware and executive decisions that have hindered this generation of Xbox, but some of the vitriol against the system is just inappropriate. It’s as though Xbox bashing has become a spectator sport.
I bought an original Xbox in October 2002 when I already had a PlayStation 2 and the GameCube. It didn’t take long for Xbox to become my preferred platform. It originally achieved this status thanks to being more powerful than the other systems and then maintained its status through the Xbox 360 generation because of Xbox Live and great exclusives. Microsoft’s second iteration of the Xbox wasn’t as powerful in terms of raw tech figures as it’s competition, the PlayStation 3. However, the PS3 had issues with the way it used that power to put graphics on the screen. This meant that Xbox 360 was not only a worthy competitor but in some cases, the games genuinely looked better on Microsoft’s system.
When the Xbox One was announced, it was pretty much a disaster. Microsoft dropped the ball by aiming for an all in one system when gamers just wanted games. I don’t need to be able to control the TV channels with my console; I already have a box and remote control that does that. They also bet on an online-only future where the infrastructure and willingness for gamers to accept that simply wasn’t there. Add to this the fact that it was a $100 more expensive than the PlayStation 4, yet not as powerful, and Xbox One was fighting an uphill battle.
Microsoft recognised these flaws reasonably quickly and immediately changed the online-only requirement. A couple of months after the disastrous product reveal, Don Mattrick ‘left’ Xbox to become CEO of Zynga (where he only lasted two years). He was replaced with Phil Spencer, who immediately announced that the console would move its focus back to games and away from the general entertainment market. Since Spencer has been in charge, the console has seen lots of positive initiatives. A few months after he started, Games With Gold was introduced, providing free games for Xbox Live Gold members. A year later he brought backwards compatibility to the system, with it now possible to play both Xbox 360 and original Xbox games on Xbox One. A year later the Xbox One X was announced and claimed the title as the world’s most powerful console.
Xbox One has made leaps and bounds from where it was yet there are people who relish in criticising the system and its fans. The complaints started by continually pointing out the power disparity between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. More recently the criticisms have been aimed at the lack of exclusives on Microsoft’s system. While I fully admit that 2017 was an extremely thin year for exclusives on Xbox One, the people who are complaining seem to be suffering short-term memory loss. In the Autumn of 2015, Xbox One saw AAA exclusives in the shape of Halo 5, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Forza Motorsport 6, and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. All PlayStation 4 had was Until Dawn, and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. In Autumn of 2016, Xbox One had Forza Horizon 3, Gears of War 4, ReCore, and Dead Rising 4. PlayStation 4 only had The Last Guardian for gamers outside Japan. Xbox literally had one bad year, and people were all over them.
One of the most toxic places for Xbox bashing is the N4G community where it has become prevalent to an absurd degree. Not only can you nearly always guarantee that there will be an article ripping into Microsoft and Xbox near the top of the opinion pieces chart, but any pro-Xbox pieces have horribly abusive comments added to them. To top it off most of those comments are from people who won’t even have read the article! I can pretty much guarantee that when I post this article on N4G that it will have loads of comments saying how Xbox is dead and irrelevant or ‘how can you trust’ or ‘what do you expect’ ‘from a site called Xbox Enthusiast.’ Yet very few of those people will even have read all this (if you are one of those that have, I salute you, and you are welcome to share your opinions positively or negatively in the comments).
People are getting reviled on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and (obviously) N4G for being positive about Xbox. One of my colleagues, the brilliant Brett Medlock, who is the editor for PlayStation Enthusiast (and one of the biggest Sony fans I know) wrote a piece defending Xbox, and he got slammed in the comments sections. He is a devout Sony fan who eats, breathes, and sleeps PlayStation – heck, he even continually preaches about the Vita, the Vita! (love you, Brett). The article got 226 comments on N4G and at the vast majority of them were derogatory.
I’m not saying that people can’t disagree with someone else’s opinion, but the level of vitriol needs to be dialled back. The PlayStation 4 is a great system with some great games. I own a PlayStation 4 Pro and enjoy playing on it. I also own a Nintendo Switch and have a blast playing great exclusives on it. That doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t enjoy or even prefer playing on Xbox. And it really doesn’t mean that I should receive abuse from Sony fanboys and obnoxious N4G commenters for having that opinion. I am all up for debate. If you disagree, share some facts, give your opinion, that’s all good. What is not fair is vilifying any fans of a platform, simply because they prefer a different console.