Don Mattrick, Xbox 2013 should be a case study in Havard Business School

I think it’s a case study in the importance of messaging and identity. Microsoft had the right data in regards to industry trends of smart devices, digital delivery and people wanting the stuff they interact with doing more than one thing. They lost their identity with the core consumers. It’s the same thing when you’re trying to sell yourself in an interview. Don’t sell yourself as a jack of all trades, master of none. You have a better chance leaning into a couple things you do better than everyone else. After their messaging, people weren’t sure what they were. Much of that was caused by the Windows division. Having an executive who wasn’t a great communicator leading the transition only made a tough situation a really bad one.

Exactly. As a developer I don’t advertise myself as knowing 20 technologies, each surface depth. Instead I go for 5-7 technologies with depth. That’s more valuable to employers.

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Sony 2020 is looking like the same playbook now.

Nah. It’s not. But they’ve certainly done worse this time than last time round. But not near Xbox 2013…

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The overwhelming majority of ppl back then absolutely did not know the actual real world policies. The narrative was set in stone super early on and it still persists today. I get the ‘more expensive, weaker performance’ argument for sure, but that was not something that set the narrative in place until MS announced pricing and until Sony announced policies and price that E3 2013.

And nobody said the DRM was game by game basis. It was in the background too btw, wasn’t some hassle at all like ppl imagined. It was specifically to check your whole library’s licenses to be sure ya aren’t copying games from a disc to the hdd and then playing em offline can passing em on to others to do the same indefinitely.

MS was 100% in the right about internet connectivity, even back then. Their 360 data demonstrated that something like 98% of their customers were online every day. The ppl whining are also all online with their consoles all the time, as is the rest of the world that lies within their target market. It was literally a non-issue. Yes, some ppl on Earth are not in their target market. That isn’t a counter point though. And they did explain all of these policies publicly. Every single one I noted was public knowledge and officially presented. It just didn’t fit the narrative so it got ignored or twisted bc ppl believed fake insiders on GAF more than actual black and white policies put in print.

I agree about the messaging. They sat on the fake leaks saying nothing for like 6 months or something absurd and every week or two new made up bullshit was bubbling up online and they just sat on their hands. They wanted to explain the full context with all their policies together since without that full picture individual policies are harder to explain. But they were just policies…it wasn’t like they needed tech to develop into something worth showing. It was just dumb. I wouldn’t say lack of planning so much as the opposite in the sense that they were dead set on waiting til May to even speak on the policies in any official capacity iirc. It’s also dumb that they trotted out Phil Harrison and Don Mattrick when they had ZERO charisma or relatability. Boyd Multerer was really good because he was an unashamed nerd and couldn’t wait to dive into programming details with enthusiasm. They shoulda had more public outreach from him. Phil Spencer is a breath of fresh air in that regard for sure. I worry that MS is focusing too much at times on other execs that also clearly lack any relatability. Their XSS ‘show’ they did was super cringey and PR-speak. I wanna see them be more candid like actual human beings who actually care about gaming.

Xbox was always part of another division with no direct report to the CEO. Makes things not easier.

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It was the core product of the entertainment and devices division, which the execs were trying to hitch a lot of other things onto. When it was moved under Windows its sole purpose, along with everything else under the Windows umbrella at the time, was to assist in driving Windows adoption and revenue.

Sorry, I thought you implied the DRM was on a game by game basis but I was mistaken.

I’m not entirely sure what was the fake leaks. Seemed like all the fake leaks were the good leaks, like the dual GPUs or having a X360 GPU assisting the weak XBO GPU, etc. The only bad thing that didn’t seem to surface from the leaks was the system requiring a connection 24/7, but that could have easily been the original plan and only changed from the initial bad reactions.

I also don’t care about what MS thought they were right on. One of the problems is they thought they were right because they designed their system around statistics and spreadsheets instead of what gamers were telling them they did and did not want. There was plenty of negative feedback about online DRM even before their May showing, but they kept their head in the sand and still pushed for these stupid policies up to their E3 show. I was on GAF back then and I agreed with the majority of GAF, their policies were straight crap. You’re free to disagree and we’ll have to agree to disagree then, but the problem was entirely on them and not the narrative IMO.

By lack of planning, I mean their under developed tools that were worse than what they offered on the 360. The complete lack of any indie program that eventually became ID@Xbox. The lack of consistent and clear messaging from all of their different speakers. Too many questions were answered with “we’ll provide details later” or some similar nonsense. Between the unpolished tools, comments from Spencer on the hardware team not getting the time they needed, the mixed messaging, the lack of a clear direction for the division, and other issues, I don’t think they planned things out because they still were figuring things out at that point.

When you have people within the division coming to the newly appointed head of xbox, expressing that the direction was not what they intended for XBO, that means they really screwed up.

As said the product was influenced by managers not part of Xbox. And as always those decisions are prepared by the team not just Mattrick. He deserves critic but not all of it.

It is too easy to put him out as the only scapegoat. What about those hw analysts that fumbled on the memory decision what led to the weaker console. Not Mattricks fault, he only can decide on things presented to him.

But I am not here to defend Mattrick, I just want to point out that the whole Xbox team did not it’s best work with some of the decisions planned, prepared and made.

He made mistakes for sure. On the other hand, I think there’s a lot of 20/20 hindsight going on in a sense. Kinect had been extremely successful on the 360, so going all-in on Kinect for the Xbox One looked like a good bet. With some other things like the always-online license policy and using cloud computing to power games, it wasn’t even necessarily the wrong call, just the wrong timing.

In 2020 Xbox is betting big on cloud streaming. If streaming takes off, we’ll all look back and marvel at how brilliant Phil Spencer was. If streaming never gets popular, maybe in a few years we’ll all be criticizing Spencer instead for wasting a bunch of time and money. None of these executives can see the future, they just make the best strategic decisions they can at the time, and the future determines whether the bet was good or bad.

The claim that it didn’t allow used games, require persistent always on connection, that Family Sharing was limited to an hour or 2 were all fake leaks. None of them were true. The 360 BC thing was real btw, it just didn’t end up part of the X1. That came from the (real) leak of the Xbox 720 early draft plans that were put together as MS was first thinking about what X1 would become.

Your point about tools is a really good one too. Yeah their SDK was way behind for the more nuanced use of embedded RAM devs would need to juggle.

You’re def wrong about the other central point though. MS WAS objectively right wrt where their consumer’s internet usage was. The problems they had didn’t stem from guessing wrong there, they came from fake insiders ‘leaking’ nonexistent platform policies that got spun into negative contexts and poisoned the well so that nothing MS said officially would be taken seriously. The ‘negative feedback’ on DRM was not about their IRL policies, it was about fake policies made up by insiders.

We can certainly disagree if ya like. Won’t be the first time! :slight_smile:

I never disagreed that MS was wrong on the consumer internet usage, but they were wrong on forming their policies on these statistics. The negative feedback was very much about the authenticate once every 24 hours nonsense. Again, people understood their policies, they were just junk and anti-consumer, so the majority disagreed with them. Same goes for the used games, it’s not that people didn’t believe used games weren’t allowed, it was the policy that you’d have to pay a fee to register or play said used game.

Everything about their dumb policies benefited MS or the publishers and they tried to wrap it in a “power of the cloud” narrative that didn’t hold any water. I think you’re underestimating how many gamers legitimately understood but still disagreed with their direction. I recently had my internet line cut by the landscapers and couldn’t get it back online for four days. If MS had their way, my system would have been a brick for 3 of those 4 days. F that. I’m glad it blew up in their face, just like I’m glad Mattrick is out of the company.

I read plenty of GAF to know it was almost entirely misinformed ppl competing for the outrage Olympics. Your emotional reaction to the actual points raised doesn’t speak well for the premise that you simply disagreed with their policies (as you saw them). If you really think ppl reacted to the once a day background authentication you are nuts. There was months and months of bogus ‘leaks’ misleading everyone about what the policies were.

If you imagine some random landscaping accident is good reason to change the policies of a platform aimed at tens of millions of users, then I dunno what to tell ya, lol. At the risk of us steering the thread down that rabbit hold, as we have in the past, it might be better to agree to disagree. We have both made our case I think, no?

My emotional response is a direct reaction to any company trying to force online DRM into our consoles, it’s a crap idea. I also think you’re misrepresenting the outrage surrounding their horrible policies.

So yeah, let’s agree to disagree that online DRM is appropriate for consoles.

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…you harboring an emotional response 7 yrs later is probably not healthy man. We hereby agree to disagree. Plenty of bickering to be had in the Demon’s Souls thread! :stuck_out_tongue:

lol I just don’t want anyone to give these slimey companies any ideas. You give them an inch and they’ll take any ownership we have left. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Ya know ya don’t own the actual games, right? Even when ya buy the disc…

That depends on a game by game basis. Some games request an online patch, some require additional content to be downloaded, while others allow you to play whatever is on the disc. I can still install Assassins Creed Unity, unpatched and play it on my Xbox for example. Could Ubisoft send out an update making my disc useless? Sure, but that’s not nearly the same thing as turning my Xbox into a paper weight just because I don’t have internet for a day.

I know what you’re getting at here and it’s nowhere near the same thing to what MS tried to pull in the beginning of this generation.

I just meant the EULA means ya don’t typically own the actual games like ppl assume ya do. For instance, there’s no actual legal right to resell games due to the EULA forbidding it.

None of that changes anything I’ve said. Just because something could be legal, as in removing our ability to play a game, that doesn’t make it right. Regardless of what bureaucratic idiot writes into law, people will still give backlash to horrible company policies and rightfully so.