Former Xbox Engineer Criticizes Microsoft's Xbox 360 Strategy

The closed platform and its clunky interface will drive people away

By on February 14th, 2013 10:40 GMT

A former Microsoft engineer who worked on the original Xbox console has heavily criticized the corporation for its fumbling of the Xbox 360, highlighting that the sales success the console is experiencing is just a result of Nintendo and Sony failing to attract people with the Wii/Wii U and PlayStation 3, respectively.

Nat Brown joined the Xbox project for Microsoft back in 1999 and played a key role in getting it approved by the company's executives.

Now, the engineer that's currently a freelancer, has decided to heavily criticize Microsoft for its current Xbox 360 strategy, saying that its success is just owed to Sony and Nintendo's failures.

"The past 5 years, and the last year in particular, have been simply painful to watch," Brown wrote on his blog.

"Coasting on past momentum. Failing to innovate and failing to capitalize on innovations like Kinect. Touting strategic and market success when you’re just experiencing your competitor’s stumbling failure (yes, Sony, Nintendo – you are, I’m afraid, stumbling failures). A complete lack of tactical versus strategic understanding of the long game of the living room."

According to Brown, the newfound focus on entertainment is too sudden and the actual internal video game developers are suffering from lack of attention.

"My gripe is 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."

Brown highlights two key issues for the Xbox 360, the first being that Microsoft has made the platform too closed for smaller or independent developers, asking them for a lot of money and not guaranteeing that their games would actually appear on the console.

The second key issue is that the operating system and the interface are too "creaky and slow," as owners of the console are bombarded with loading screens and clunky menus.

"So, because these two critical issues – user experience and indie content – are not nearly in order and I see big investments in future interactive content happening, as well as idiotic moves to limit used games or put harder content protection into place than exists in mobile or tablets – I predict massive failure and losses here."

According to Brown, the Xbox division needs a leader to lay out a strategy and set the goals before starting to promote entertainment in order to attract the masses.

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