After a disastrous Xbox One launch, Microsoft decides doing the right thing is a good idea

Arif Bacchus

When Microsoft first unveiled the Xbox One, many diehard fans were let down with what the Redmond giant had to offer. For one, the console had to always be connected to the internet to play even offline, single-player games. Additionally, the console used region locking to lock down games geographically, and even dropped support for the long present family sharing feature.

With features such as Kinect 2.0, the focus on the original Xbox One launch was clearly more about multimedia instead of the gamers, and Microsoft was in for a few lessons as time progressed. Fortunately, the Corporate Vice President of Xbox, Yusuf Mehdi is one who has learned a bit from this past, and recently pushed a post to LinkedIn which explained that doing the right thing for customers is a good idea.

Overall, Mehdi highlights how the work of Phil Spencer, Mike Nichols, Aaron Greenberg and Major Nelson has built an incredible base of engaged fans. The Corporate Vice President admires their work, and how they keep the gamer as the center.  According to Mehdi, “you can not create fans, but you rather have to earn them,” so there are four key areas which can make difference moving forward: “Do right,” “Make exceptional products,” “Create connection,” and “Surprise and delight customers” He writes,

As our team has embarked on the journey to build a fan-centric culture at Microsoft, I have learned so much about how to focus our efforts. There are four things things, that while simple and maybe obvious, make all the difference…. While the majority of my career has been focused on understanding our customers – building products that they will need and love, telling the story of their creation, and courting their engagement and usage – it was really the Xbox One launch that reinforced for me the power of fans.

A slide about the original Xbox One launch
A slide about the original Xbox One launch

When it comes to doing right, Mehdi believes that “if you really focus on doing the right thing for your customers, you’re on the path.” He addresses that doing the right thing is not always the easiest thing, and mentions the initial launch of the Xbox One.

With our initial announcement of Xbox One and our desire to deliver breakthroughs in gaming and entertainment, the team made a few key decisions regarding connectivity requirements and how games would be purchased that didn’t land well with fans. While the intent was good – we imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing and new ways to try and buy games, we didn’t deliver what our fans wanted. We heard their feedback, and while it required great technical work, we changed Xbox One to work the same way as Xbox 360.

On a much different note, Mehdi also highlights that the core of an exceptional product is what creates fan energy of a company. He mentions mistakes in the industry which don’t enable customers to achieve, such as rushing a product and building tech that is incredible but that does not work in service of a basic human need.

The mistakes I see range from rushing a product to market for timing or competitive reasons, trying to do so much that the product is a mile wide but an inch deep in value, or building tech that is incredible but that does not work in service of a basic human need…. In today’s crowded market, it really is simple – it’s intuitive products that stand out and become integral parts of people’s lives that earn fans.

xbox one
An original Xbox One with Controllers

As noted earlier,  Phil Spencer, Mike Nichols, Aaron Greenberg and Major Nelson all have become faces of Xbox in the eyes of the fans. Mehdi believes that this is exactly what customers need when forming a connection with a company. Citing the over 10 million Windows Insiders as an example, he explains that every interaction with the customer is important and builds a deeper relationship.

Customers should feel like they have joined a community – a family. Don’t be a faceless company. Enable your fans to interact with real people at your company, people who are fans themselves. This requires real commitment, time and effort. A fan is not only going to tell you what they think, but they are going to expect to hear back, to see you take action on their feedback.

In a similar note, Mehdi also believes that the best “fan building” moment happens when thought is put into going the extra mile, and delightful thing shows up unexpectedly. The Corporate Vice President highlights the launch of the  Xbox Backwards Compatibility and Xbox Play Anywhere features as part of this, and even touches on how Microsoft did the unexpected by creating the Surface Pro.

In our own experience with Xbox, it was the E3 2015 announcement of Xbox Backwards Compatibility and Xbox Play Anywhere features that elicited some of the biggest cheers from our fans…. In this case it wasn’t a great new game that we wanted to sell, rather it was recognizing the value and investment our fans had made in their game library on the Xbox 360 and enabling them to bring it forward that was the delight.

With our Surface products, our focus has always been on delighting customers by not just shipping beautiful products, but by doing the unexpected and creating new categories of computing like the 2-in-1 computer with Surface Pro. But it doesn’t have to always be so hard or just about the technology invention. Sometimes it’s just how you tell the story on the introduction to the fans that have come along on the journey with your brand.

Xbox One
Xbox One

Microsoft has steadily updated the original Xbox One, and recently launched the Xbox Insider program, so it’s very apparent that the company cares about the fans. With the company’s E3 2017 briefing right around the corner, it will be very interesting to see what Microsoft has up its sleeves with Project Scorpio. Will the most powerful console ever be one for the fans, or will it flop? Where do you think Microsoft went wrong with the original Xbox One? Let us know your thoughts below.