One of PlayStation’s most notable videos is its 2013 “PlayStation Used Game Instructional Video” made in a hotel room hours before PlayStation’s E3 press conference. The video was created to spite Xbox’s at-the-time “always online” approach for the Xbox One, and let gamers know they were allowed to share games with anyone on PlayStation 4. The video has amassed 18 million views and is remembered fondly among the PlayStation community and the industry at large. However, the people over at Xbox remember it a little differently, according to a just-released 6-part documentary titled “Power On: The Story of Xbox.”
In the documentary, GM of Xbox Games Marketing Aaron Greenberg recalls that PlayStation’s video was an example of when things got “really ugly” for Team Xbox. At the time, Xbox Head Don Mattrick was throwing out ideas for the Xbox One that really weren’t jiving for the public such as requiring purchasers to always keep their Xbox online and having the console block the ability to play used games. It dealt a massive blow to the Xbox brand and was part of the Xbox One’s extremely slow start, not to mention the need to revitalize the brand’s image in the people’s eyes.
The current head of Digital Eclipse, Mike Mika, mentions in the documentary that as Sony came blazing out of the gate with all guns at the ready, poised to be the champion of the used games industry, the blow sent Xbox reeling and was “brutal.” Indeed, it was Sony at its most tenacious, and totally unlike something it had ever done, before or since. These days Sony is a little more subdued when it comes to brand tenacity, such as responding to Xbox’s acquiring of multiple talented studios with its own acquisitions.
Don Mattrick was replaced with Phil Spencer as Head of Xbox in response to his apparent mishandling of the Xbox One console and the Xbox brand at large. After all, Mattrick has an infamous line about gamers with no stable internet connection at the time just having to stick with the Xbox 360. It was a crazy time for Xbox, but thankfully it has course-corrected majorly since.
While the times of public feuds appear to be over between Sony and Microsoft, current strategies such as both companies’ numerous acquisitions, seems to be setting the stage for a more subtle but intense struggle between the two. Currently, Xbox has done much heavy lifting such as with xCloud and Xbox Game Pass to really put them on even ground with PlayStation and make up for 8 years of lost time. This momentum will be key to Xbox’s future.