Challenge: Save Xbox

KiryuRealty

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28 Nov 2022
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Where it’s at.
If I had the chance to save the Xbox brand, I would fire everyone on the team and start over and what I mean by that is fire all the leadership/people who have been there for 15 years like Major Nelson, and keep the ones who are young and hire people who have talent and have a true vision for Xbox and the succession of the brand. Making better games at this point won't save Xbox, I give Phil Spencer that, he is right about that. The management there seems incompetent to do their duty to enforce their studios and overlook them to the maximum. Without good leadership, there is no company.
Dude, it’s Microsoft.

There’s no leadership in that company, and it simply isn’t tolerated in their culture.
 

Alabtrosmyster

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26 Jun 2022
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Listen to him talk about not wanting to prevent people from playing on any screen or device they want and not releasing his games on ps. He really needs to go third party and shut up about it
 

Nhomnhom

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25 Mar 2023
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-Replace Phil Spencer and everyone else at a leadership position on Xbox.
-Go third-party.
-Kill Xbox hardware.
-Create a MS games only Gamepass tier and put that on PlayStation and Steam.
-Every internal studio will be given one more chance to prove that they are worth keeping except 343i. Any studio that ends up producing something shitty like Redfall or Bleeding Edge gets shut down.
 
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AshHunter216

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Listen to him talk about not wanting to prevent people from playing on any screen or device they want and not releasing his games on ps. He really needs to go third party and shut up about it
They want it both ways. They want to maintain this kumbaya games for everyone image while also still wanting to destroy Playstation. The end result is that the first one comes off as phony for anyone with common sense and they fail constantly at their attempts with the second.
 

Shmunter

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22 Jul 2022
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Truth Spencer, put together a team with the equivalent skills and drive behind 360. Getting Peter Moore back would be a massive positive PR driver.
 

Kereke12

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4 May 2023
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Dude, it’s Microsoft.

There’s no leadership in that company, and it simply isn’t tolerated in their culture.
That's why they all need to be replaced, if other sections of Microsoft strive then Xbox can strive with new leadership.
 

KiryuRealty

Cambridge Dictionary High Priest of Grammar
28 Nov 2022
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Where it’s at.
That's why they all need to be replaced, if other sections of Microsoft strive then Xbox can strive with new leadership.
I think you have "strive" mixed up with "thrive", because the last thing any part of MS does is strive. They shit out mediocre slop and the company has a culture and environment that reward sociopathicly selfish and short-sighted assholes, and drives any real leaders out the door, screaming.
 

Kereke12

Banned
4 May 2023
381
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I think you have "strive" mixed up with "thrive", because the last thing any part of MS does is strive. They shit out mediocre slop and the company has a culture and environment that reward sociopathicly selfish and short-sighted assholes, and drives any real leaders out the door, screaming.
Yeah I should have worded myself correctly yeah I have to agree, Microsoft has a long record of not doing things well.
 

Zzero

Major Tom
9 Jan 2023
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God damnit you fuckers making me write all of this...

Here's a discussion prompt just for funsies:

The year is 2024. The FTC and CMA have indicated that they have decided to block the acquisition of Activision-Blizzard barring some very draconian concessions that Satya Nadella has decided would make the acquisition completely worthless. Worse still, gamepass has missed its growth target for the 3rd year in a row, only growing 10% instead of the target 25%. As a result, the Microsoft Board is planning to wind down the gaming division and spin off Xbox and related assets for cash. Phil Spencer is fired and you have been hired as interim CEO.

Your job is to put together a pitch to a potential buyer with a plan to turn around the company and compete with Sony and Nintendo by 2030.

Who do you approach and how do you pitch them a turnaround for Xbox?
Under the specifics of your prompt (I have another one of my own, down below, where Microsoft keeps Xbox but demands success) there, realistically, isn't actually any option for success. Xbox hasn't ever made money, and taking away the spigot and putting in that they missed all of their targets they clearly wouldn't be able to survive as an independent entity. That said, there are still three options that might want to be Xbox's new subsidizer. They're Tencent, Amazon and Saudi Arabia's trust fund thing.
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So, Tencent. Why would Tencent want to buy Microsoft's shitty gaming division? Tencent has a lot of gaming assets that it has, until now, been rather lax with, letting them do their own things while standing back and taking the profit. That has started to change recently, with Tencent both starting up its own branded games publishing label, Level Infinite, and taking a more active say in the companies they already own. They also have an unstated aim to diversify away from China's gaming market. That market has been a very protected engine of growth, but the (and I'm being kind here) erratic nature of China's regulators and political system have led the big Chinese publishers to want to diversify their markets. But its not just that. Tencent has a billion dollar cloud business in China that it also wants to diversify, with regulations, of course, looking set to get in the way.

Tencent's current ownership, for those who don't track this shit, includes Riot Games (LoL), Fatshark (Vermintide), Digital Extremes (Warframe), Sumo Digital (tons of gun for hire work), a lot of "new" studios helmed by industry veterans that haven't launched their games yet, lots of Chinese PC and mobile stuff, lots of minority shares including 40 percent of Epic, lots of smaller studios and tons of non-gaming stuff including a billion dollar a year cloud business in China.

So my proposal to Tencent is thus. Buy Xbox and Gamepass, run GP through your own cloud systems, based in the west but with Tencent's own tech. Xbox has 4000+ jobs in the west, plus a specific meaning in America as an American product, and an important part of a very limited market (only 3 to 5 console competitors, depending on your definition of the word.) The threat of it going bankrupt or leaving the console market is a way to get yourself into markets that otherwise would be pretty hostile to you, as a Chinese company, entering them. The main goal here isn't to control the Xbox console, that's dead weight, its getting market access to have a cloud service operating outside of mainland China and an online store with better mindshare than your Level Infinite publishing efforts. At nearly half a trillion in market cap you have one fourth the market cap of Microsoft but four times that of Sony, and can afford to take the short term hit in order to gain long-term market access (and security, since Tencent is actually majority foreign owned) outside China.
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And on to Amazon. Just to get this out of the way, they are currently half of Microsoft's size in market cap, putting them at twice Tencent's size and nine times Sony's. They already have both games as part of their Prime service and a separate "console", Luna, that is actually just a streaming device. As far as I can tell both are struggling. Prime gaming is, at this point, only money hatted indie and mobile games with their only first party teams being shitty MMO devs that nobody knows or cares abou. Being bundled in with Prime it has a huge existing "userbase" but only a tiny fraction of them even know that the gaming aspect of that service exists, let alone makes use of it. Luna gets decent dev support for its market share but I suspect its all money-hatted. Like all moneyhatted at this point, even Ubisoft. I mean, who is actually buying that thing?

Well, if you, Amazon, want a place in the home games market, then you can buy into it by purchasing the Xbox division of Microsoft. You can presumably then sunset the console aspect of Xbox after the generation ends in favor of Luna wearing Xbox's skin as a suit. Some, but not all, of Microsoft's gaming studios are actually pretty good and Bezos' beancounters can go through and sort the good from the bad. Ideally, Amazon, when all is said and done you get a box in millions of homes that links up to Prime, Gamepass (perhaps renamed to Prime Gaming and separated from regular Prime?), your cloud servers and whatever your personal assistant thing is called. Given the prompt outlined by the OP, Xbox is dead as a service provider without outside purchase, thus doing away with most regulatory concerns and allowing a deal such as this to go through. Good job, CMA, you really helped out competition in cloud gaming.
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Now for the Saudis. I've made it quite clear in previous posts here that I don't think much of their optimistically named Savvy Games Group and that them throwing money around "randomly" isn't good business sense. Presumably they've ran out of fine art, race horses and over the hill soccer players to buy... Other people are even more cynical than I am and say that their gaming endevours, which seem set to do fuck-all to bring tech jobs to Saudi Arabia, are actually a PR stunt. The guess is that they'd like to make money off of gaming, eventually, but that it was chosen over other businesses because its a way to get the KSA into our living rooms and normalize their presence in our lives with a friendly face. Although SGG has a market cap, and with their 40 billion dollar pocket book its got to be a big one, the truth is that their funding is limited at this time only by how much the Crown Prince wants to spend. So yeah, MBS, buy Xbox, run it at a loss, rent out cloud space from Microsoft or Google, do all of that and come into our homes. Xbox is also a good springboard to get into related media at that point too, something that I suspect our Kingdom buddies would be quite keen on if it weren't for all of those mouthy actors and their opinions.
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And lastly, lets just talk about Microsoft. OP hates them for some reason and has laid out his wank plan where Gamepass fails and they cut bait. But might I lay out this alternate plan for Replacement Phil. It is as follows. Its 4 years into the current cycle and things are looking shit. Our studios are failing to output games in a timely manner, our timed and purchased exclusives do nothing, despite spec superiority our box actually runs games worse than the competition, we've fallen behind in the battle for the living room and an axe-grinding Brit is preventing us from buying proven game-changers. So what is there to do to stem the tide? Well, here's the plan.


Fix the Tech Issues
1) Fix the Series X tech parity issue with a mid-gen refresh. Whatever Sony's cooking, out cook them. This is One X all over again, make sure that Series Y is the single best technical experience to be had on a current gen gaming product.

2) Add a disc-drive to Series S, Series T costs twenty dollars more, has the disc drive and a new shell, preferably one that doesn't look like it pairs with this. Oooh.... ahhhhh...... don't worry, its not long for this world.

3) Drop requirement for third parties to include Series S/T support. Don't announce it publicly, just stop requiring it. The goal was always to do away with generations? Well then, the future is now. It will probably get years of limited support anyway and its cheap.

Fix the Online Ecosystem.
4) This means two things. The first is to simplify Gamepass payment plans. Let there be a free trial code with purchase of an Xbox (or even, like, phones...) but, after that, one default plan per region. No more steals and deals. If the service truly speaks for itself then let it. Oh, and do away with paid Xbox Live. Let Xbox Live be the basic tier, with an online store and free multiplayer, while Gamepass is the paid tier. No more Gold, no more Games with Gold. The real money is in MTX anyway and gating people off from online cuts into that. Use this as a selling point. Mention it aloud in any Xbox tv commercials.

5) The second is no more money down the hole on paying big third parties to put new games on Gamepass. Thats for your own stuff, F2P, perhaps a few curated indies, people who want the publicity and anything you currently have agreements on. Behind the scenes, negotiate some on-the-cheap deals for old/retro stuff from the 90s and to the early 2010s, including PC games. Emphasis on western stuff like PC shooters and action games, RTSes and other PC genres, 6th and 7th gen games, etc. This could well include buyouts of old, "devalued" IP, if the price is right.

6) Enough first-party live-service over-monetization. Chase longevity for your MP games, rather than MTX. Truly good long-lived games will make a ton of money regardless but let third parties do the whale hunting shit. You get a cut anyway and with limited first party games they should be designed to get people into your marketplace, rather than also gutting them while there.

Fix the Games Pipeline.
7) Holy shit, no more "ambitious" projects that don't have a clear roadmap. Finish up the current batch of bullshit and ship them. No more delays for Perfect Dark. No more delays for Fable. No more delays for Everwild (if its "directionless" now, tell them to turn it into a product or cancel it.) No more fucking around with Quake if its interfering with Doom.

8) Xbox's golden age is now firmly in the nostalgia period for people. Lean into it. Specifically, lean hardcore bro culture. That was Xbox's stereotypical userbase back then, a fact that the company seems ashamed of. Well, let me tell you what, there's a lot more of that type of guy than modern day pop culture wants to admit, and he has money and likes to buy games. Don't, you know, outright chase people away, but privately lay off the over-moderation of chat services, stop putting out embarrassing harassment PSAs, "let boys be boys" and take no side (but not so secretly lean "incorrect") in the culture wars. Bring back Bell, Dew and Doritos tie ins. Like, constantly. If Kotaku and Reeeeee complain, shrug your shoulders and refuse to apologize, say you want hardcore demon slayers playing Doom and Gears.

9) Given pissy MS leadership and the current size of MSG (it already has the tools it should need,) big acquisitions are off the table unless someone is going bankrupt. If necessary, there are a few smaller ones that could be picked up, but only to up appeal to the demographic mentioned in point 8 that you've spent the last 15 years running away from. Smaller teams like Endnight (The Forest), Studio Wildcard (Ark), Squanch Games (very dependent on how people react to Roiland going forward,) Upstream Arcade (Hellboy: WoW), Liquid Swords (former Just Cause devs), Asobo (MSFS, Plague tale), Blue Manchu (Void Bastards), Blackbird (Homeworld), Velan Studios (Knockout Citty), Bohemia Interactive (ARMA, Day Z), People Can Fly (Painkiller), or other stuff like that. Certainly not all of it, just one or two.

10) Put guns for hire on some remasters. Stuff like Oblivion, Fallout 3, Gears 1-3, Crackdown, etc. Maybe a full Halo trilogy remake as a long-term goal for whoever is in charge of Halo going forward. Look at those RE games, look at Metroid Prime, look at Dead Space. Remasters/remakes are cheap to make (no scope or iterative development issues) and if chosen wisely have nearly as good an effect as an all new release.

The end result, hopefully, will be an ecosystem that leans into ease of use, attracts a crowd who heavily game, puts an emphasis on making money from the online store, undercuts the competition via our superior online infrastructure, and hopefully places Xbox in position to turn the tide in 2030, with stronger internet, a better cloud system and an unclogged games pipeline.
 

Yurinka

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21 Jun 2022
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  • Fire Phil Spencer, Matt Booty, Aaron Greenberg and Mochizuki
  • Kill Xbox console and fully become a multiplaform 3rd party developer
  • Stop including AAA games day one on GP integrate gold as a 3rd GP cheaper tier
  • Hire people to improve and grow your teams instead of buying new one, specially key talent who left in your iconic studios and key people who made super successful new IPs
  • Make an 'indie division' to allow them small indie games using your old classic IPs as recently seen with people like Sega
 
OP
OP
anonpuffs

anonpuffs

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29 Nov 2022
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  • Fire Phil Spencer, Matt Booty, Aaron Greenberg and Mochizuki
  • Kill Xbox console and fully become a multiplaform 3rd party developer
  • Stop including AAA games day one on GP integrate gold as a 3rd GP cheaper tier
  • Hire people to improve and grow your teams instead of buying new one, specially key talent who left in your iconic studios and key people who made super successful new IPs
  • Make an 'indie division' to allow them small indie games using your old classic IPs as recently seen with people like Sega
Who's Mochizuki? Are you talking about that op/ed writer from Bloomberg?
 

Bryank75

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BigSkinny

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27 Apr 2023
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Grind away at making good games. Raise the price (maybe 2.5-3x) of Gamepass to reflect the investment you’re making into your exclusives.
 

KiryuRealty

Cambridge Dictionary High Priest of Grammar
28 Nov 2022
4,156
5,166
Where it’s at.
Grind away at making good games. Raise the price (maybe 2.5-3x) of Gamepass to reflect the investment you’re making into your exclusives.
If they knew how to make good games, don’t you think they’d already be doing that?

Also, with all the cheapass troglodytes who evangelize Game Pass while using any insane exploit to avoid paying full price as it is, raising the price of Game Pass would be even more retarded than most of what Xbox has already done over the last 15 years.