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

Microsoft is reportedly planning an Xbox One without a disc drive for 2019

Microsoft is reportedly planning to release a new Xbox One model without a disc drive in 2019. The console will be significantly cheaper than other Xbox One systems, including the Xbox One S.
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

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 everyone.
Gaming

Xbox One adds mouse and keyboard support, levels playing field with PC

The latest system software update for Xbox One has added mouse and keyboard support. The support is limited to Warframe and Fortnite at the moment, with more games coming in November and December.
Gaming

Xbox gaming chief has sights set on improving Microsoft Store experience

Xbox chief Phil Spencer acknowledged that the Microsoft Store still has a ways to go to become a solid platform for PC gamers. Microsoft promised to work toward improving the frequently buggy experience with gamers in mind.
Gaming

Find a fish and get your boogie on with Fortnite's week 8 challenge

The Fortnite season 6 week 8 challenges have arrived as we near the end of this spooky season. The big free challenge this week is the Fortnite fish trophy challenge where you need to dance with different fishes. Here are all of the…
Gaming

For the first time ever, PlayStation will be a no-show at E3

For the first time in the event's history, E3 2019 will not feature Sony or PlayStation. The massive event almost always features a lengthy press conference from Sony, often after all other major companies give theirs.
Deals

All the Best Target Black Friday deals for 2018

The mega-retailer opens its doors to the most competitive shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, and signs indicate that the retailer means business this year. We've sifted through all of the deals, from consumer electronics to small…
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.
Gaming

‘Fortnite’ gifts perfect for the video game fan in your life

Chances are someone on your holiday shopping list is a fan of Fortnite. As the most popular game on the planet, there are plenty of Fortnite-themed gift options available for purchase in stores and online. Here are the best ones we found.
Deals

The Best Black Friday Deals from Best Buy in 2018

We've been hard at work assembling all the best Black Friday deals Best Buy offers in 2018 and putting them in one place to save you time and money this holiday season. From laptops to TVs, game consoles to smart speakers and much more…
Computing

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

HDR isn't the most common of PC monitor features and is often charged at a premium, but the list of available options is growing. These are the best HDR monitors you can buy right now.
Gaming

Every rumor about the PS5, including a new game from Luminous Productions

PlayStation 5 rumors have been circulating for over a year now but there's still plenty we don't know. Here's everything you need to know about the PS5, including rumors about its release, specs, and games.
Gaming

‘Gears of War’ designer Cliff Bleszinski says he’ll never make another game

Cliff Bleszinski, the game designer best known for his work on the Gears of War series, says he will never make another video game. His studio, Boss Key Productions, shut its doors earlier this year.
Gaming

Nintendo and Microsoft say they’re all-in on E3 after Sony bows out of 2019 event

Shortly after Sony announced it will not participate in E3 2019 for the first time, Microsoft and Sony announced the show will go on as usual for each software giant. E3 2019 now presents a unique opportunity for Sony's major competitors.