Xbox Founder Slams Microsoft for "Jumping its Own Shark"

It's 'living in a naive dream-world'.

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Xbox Founder Slams Microsoft for "Jumping its Own Shark"
A former Microsoft architect involved with the development of the original Xbox has spoken out against the company, claiming that its inability to attract independent developers or fix interface issues will see it lose in a battle against Apple and mobile devices.

Nat Brown, according to his blog, is the founder of the Xbox project and gave the console its name. He reckons that Microsoft is "living in a naive dream-world" and that the brand's transition from hardcore games to casual and TV entertainment was simply "an accident of circumstance that Microsoft is neither leveraging nor in control of."

Following the news that Nancy Tellem would be heading an Xbox Entertainment studio that creates interactive video content for console owners, Brown opined 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."

Instead, Brown suggested that Microsoft should be looking closer to home in order to provide exclusive content and fix up UI problems in the Xbox 360. "The past 5 years, and the last year in particular, have been simply painful to watch. Coasting on past momentum. Failing to innovate and failing to capitalize on innovations like Kinect. Touting strategic and market success when youíre just experiencing your competitorís stumbling failure (yes, Sony, Nintendo Ė you are, Iím afraid, stumbling failures).

"A single custom studio of 150 employees also can not generate enough content to defensibly satisfy 76M+ customers. Only with quality primary software content from thousands of independent developers can you defend the brand and the product," he added.

He slammed the Xbox Live Indie Games initiative - which is due to close soon - stating that the company has not done enough to cultivate an ecosystem of free development and enterprise. "Why canít I write a game for xBox tomorrow using $100 worth of tools and my existing Windows laptop and test it on my home xBox or at my friendsí houses?"

Instead, XBLIG has amounted to "a carved off little hard-to-find store with a few thousand stunted games... This is where indie developers have found they can go in order to not make money on xBox, despite an installed base of 76M devices."

Brown also lamented some of the more confusing UI messages and system mannerisms that work against the casual and accessible experience. "The device OS and almost the entire user experience outside the first two levels of the dashboard are creaky, slow, and full-of-shit," he writes. Among the gripes: choosing storage devices, title updates that don't tell you definitively if restarts are required, and UI for securely saving data.

"These are the 2 fronts Microsoft is going to lose on in the living room battle with Android & iOS," Brown concluded. "Itís not going to be based on whether they have (a more expensive) Netflix, whether they have original TV/video content or interactive kids television shows which integrate with Kinect. They will lose unless these two things are sorted out well and quickly."

Read the whole tirade here. Amazing scenes. What do you think?


Steviepunk 13 Feb 2013 17:54
I've got a feeling that the reason the XBLIG and XNA are being killed off is down to the integration of Windows RT into the next Xbox - which will provide the same App market place that is available on Windows 8 (PCs and the Surface tablet), anything written to run on WinRT will run on the new Xbox.

So while the XNA development scene will fade away, the new Xbox may actually be as open to developers as the Surface Tablet is (which, unless I've misunderstood how the development works for that, would mean that indie developers would automatically have access to both the Xbox and Windows user base)

Also suspect that 'touch' base games will be playable using the new Kinect to emulate the touch actions, but we'll see how that turns out!
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