From crisis to contender – Microsoft on Xbox One policy reversals and the power of the crowd

Xbox One white

We outline how Microsoft made Xbox One a contender again after a disastrous E3 in the next issue of Edge magazine, on sale September 26 in printon iPadAndroid and Zinio.

“I think when you create a vision of the future, you paint the vision of the future that you are most excited about,” Microsoft’s Phil Harrison tells us. “But we got clear feedback that some of the things we were proposing were perhaps a little too far into the future. So we changed. We took feedback from the community; we changed our plans. We think that’s a good thing.”

Harrison, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business, also dismisses the notion that the departure of Don Mattrick had an effect on the changes of policy, and remains confident that Xbox One’s software line-up is stronger than Sony’s PS4 slate. “We are winning the games message,” he tells us. “We had over 100 awards coming out of E3 for games on our platform. That is more than twice as many awards as any other platform. So the media recognised our games on Xbox One as being the best lineup – including Titanfall, which is the most awarded game in the history of E3, coming to Xbox One and to Xbox 360.”

Harrison also apologises for Xbox One’s delayed launch in many territories, but insists that launching in far fewer countries than PS4 this Christmas won’t ultimately damage the console’s prospects. “We will make sure we work super hard to catch up as quickly as we can,” he adds. “In the long run, in the life of Xbox One, I don’t believe this will have any material impact.”

Microsoft’s Phil Harrison: “Some of the things we were proposing were perhaps a little too far into the future.”

We also speak to Ken Lobb, Microsoft Studios’ partner creative director, who gives us his thoughts on Microsoft’s position in the next gen race, and tells us more about the announcements that have emerged since E3. “The plan to turn a box into a devkit is [from] two years ago,” Lobb tells us. “It had to be. You don’t just decide that we’re just going to unlock the box magically and everyone can run unsecured code.”

He later elaborates on the PR woes the platform holder has suffered from. “Of course [the company’s messaging problems] hurt in the short term,” he says. ”We’re not blind, right? Did they hurt in the long run? We’re going to have to find out after we launch.”

“When someone comes in and asks a question about something we’ve decided we’re intentionally not going to talk about until a certain date, sometimes you get half answers. There’s no such thing as perfect PR.”

Lobb also hits back at developer claims over the difference in power between PS4 and Xbox One. “They maybe have a little more GPU,” says Lobb. “We have eSRAM [embedded memory] and crazy bandwidth to that eSRAM. Which is going to be better in the long run from a developer [perspective]? We’re going to see as the games go head to head. A lot of it will come down to – as always – which exclusive teams push a piece of hardware best.”

The new issue of Edge is published on September 26 in print, on iPad, Android and Zinio. Print subscribers save money and get their issue delivered before it arrives in shops, and iPad subscribers can take advantage of our interactive edition as well as get two free issues when they start a no-obligation trial subscription.