Xbox Entertainment Studios shutdown the next logical step in a gamers-first Xbox brand

may 2013 microsoft revealing xbox one world first time enhanced kinect app snapping house content development cable service i
It’s May 2013 and Microsoft is revealing the Xbox One to the world for the first time. Enhanced Kinect! App-snapping! In-house content development! Cable service integration!

Now it’s June 2013, post-E3. Xbox is a dirty word. Always-online requirements and restrictions on secondhand game sales have the gaming community in an uproar. Sony’s competing PlayStation 4 costs $100 less because it doesn’t pack in the same kind of required camera peripheral that the Xbox One has. Microsoft backpedals. Policies are reversed. The mob is placated.

Xbox One UnveilingNow it’s June 2014, one year later. Kinect isn’t a pack-in anymore. The Xbox One is down to $400, making it competitive with the PS4. It’s more backpedaling. Kinect, once pushed as the cornerstone of a brave, new world for Xbox gamers, is now deemed non-essential. Sold separately. More backpedaling, but a cheaper console means a more attractive purchase. Once again, the mob is placated.

Now it’s July 2014. Xbox Entertainment Studios is due to be shut down. A handful of in-production projects will proceed as scheduled, but all of those big plans to deliver original, non-interactive content on Xbox platforms for years to come seem to have been euthanized. This time, the mob doesn’t care. It never really did to begin with.

Microsoft’s message coming out of the Xbox One reveal was crystal-clear: We want to own your living room. The whole damn thing. All your home entertainment are belong to us. The Xbox 360’s cross-connectivity with Windows Media Center? Merely a taste of a larger strategy for Xbox that played out during former CEO Steve Ballmer’s regime.

Xbox Entertainment Studios

Ballmer’s gone now, and the Xbox One’s grand ambitions are scaling back. Microsoft no longer wants to own your living room. Leasing just a small corner of it is totally fine. That was the Xbox 360’s great success. It did gaming, and social interactions while gaming, really well. So well, in fact, that Sony willingly aped popular features like Party Chat (on the PS4) and Achievements (realized as Trophies).

Microsoft no longer wants to own your living room. Leasing just a small corner of it is totally fine.

Xbox Entertainment Studios shutting down isn’t a surprise. It’s the next logical backward step. All of the major Xbox One moves made since the console’s announcement have been aimed at getting back to the gamer-first mentality that made the Xbox 360 such a success. Even Microsoft’s E3 2014 press conference spoke to that, amounting to a non-stop gauntlet of game trailers, demos, and reveals.

The shutdown is an acknowledgement of the fact that XES was a fool’s errand. Microsoft isn’t Sony. There’s no film/TV division at the company, no established infrastructure of technology or industry experts to lean on. Microsoft wanted to build all of that from scratch, just like it did with the original Xbox back in 2001.

That was a different time though, and Xbox was in the realm of products Microsoft was already equipped to produce. The company just isn’t set up to create original TV-style programming. That’s not to say it couldn’t get there, but someone finally got the sense in their head to ask the question: “Why are we even trying? Why are we spending all of this money to service a sub-section of a sub-section of our community?”

ms-nadella-satya-2014-02-The-Garage-484

This week, Microsoft confirmed plans to cut 18,000 jobs out of its workforce. It canceled all Android support for the Nokia X line of smartphones. And yes, it shut down XES. Many question why, especially when the company’s not actively hemorrhaging money.

It’s because the future is murky. There’s an investment in a huge workforce of non-essential employees. There’s a line of mobile devices picked up from a recent acquisition that strengthen a competitor’s operating system. And there’s a pure entertainment division that’s quite simply out of place at this tech-minded company.

Microsoft may not be losing money right now, but the closure of XES and the changes that accompany it are meant to ensure that it doesn’t start to anytime soon.

[Header image courtesy of Barone Firenze / Shutterstock.com]

Gaming

Get Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice for free when buying an Xbox One

You can get Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice for free when buying an Xbox One from Newegg. Eight different bundles are available for this deal, so you can walk away with Sekiro and another game such as The Division 2 or Anthem.
Gaming

These Xbox One exclusives are the definition of quality over quantity

Xbox One has a prestigious collection of handpicked titles that you can't play on other consoles. Here are the latest and greatest Xbox One exclusives, including some that are also available on PC
Gaming

Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro: Which console is more powerful?

Far from cooling down, the console wars are only getting more intense. We compare Microsoft's Xbox One X to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro to help you decide which premium console is right for you.
Gaming

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.
Gaming

Sony to launch State of Play videos for PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR

Sony will debut a new video program named State of Play on March 25. The first episode will focus on new PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR games, and it remains to be seen if Sony will tease the PlayStation 5.
Gaming

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild bug lets Link ignore temperature effects

A newly discovered bug in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of Wild allows players to max out both hearts and stamina. The glitch also disables temperature effects such as the heat of Death Mountain and the cold of Hebra.
Gaming

Report: Nintendo will release two new Switch models in 2019

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Nintendo will unveil two new Switch models at E3 and release them this year. One of the models will target hardcore gamers, while the other will be budget friendly.
Gaming

Twitch streamer somehow beats Bloodborne, all the souls games without getting hit

A Twitch streamer named The Happy Hob has managed to play through all Dark Souls games, Demon's Souls, and Bloodborne in a row without getting hit a single time. He has been attempting the feat for months.
Gaming

Here are the best items a Shinobi should buy in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a brutally challenging game that requires persistent focus and a lot close calls with death. You can make things a bit easier on yourself with by purchasing important items from vendors.
Gaming

Here’s everything you need to know about MLB The Show 19

MLB The Show 19 launches on PlayStation 4 on March 26. If you're interested in finding out what's new in the latest iteration of the annual baseball sim, we've got all the details, from new gameplay mechanics to Road to the Show changes.
Gaming

Newegg slashes prices on PS4 accessories and AAA games like Anthem

Newegg is currently offering big savings on a number of games for PS4 and Xbox One, including Anthem, Metro Exodus, The Division 2, and Kingdom Hearts 3. Accessories including headsets are also on sale.
Gaming

Apple Arcade might be the new game subscription service worth signing up for

Apple Arcade will launch this fall bringing a new game-subscription service with cross-platform support for iOS, Mac, and Apple TV. At launch, the service will feature more than 100 exclusive games, with more added to the service regularly.
Gaming

Fortnite World Cup kicks off April 13 with $1 million in weekly prizes

The Fortnite World Cup kicks off on April 13 with the start of Online Opens for solo play. $1 million in weekly prizes will be awarded during the Online Open Finals, so get practicing!
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.