Imagine losing so badly that your brand hasn't recovered one generation later. This is exactly what's happening with Xbox.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer admits to "losing" the console war against PlayStation due to the Xbox One's botched approach to digital game ownership, leading to Microsoft's shift in focus towards making Xbox a service.
During a Kinda Funny interview, Spencer explained why losing the console arms race last generation was such a big deal:
We lost the worst generation to lose in the Xbox One generation, where everybody built their digital library of games.
So when you go and you're building on Xbox, we want our Xbox community to feel awesome, but this idea that if we just focus more on great games on our console, somehow we're gonna win the console race, I think doesn't really [match] the reality of most people.
Spencer then mentioned the importance of the "continuity from generation to generation", adding that "there's no world where Starfield is an 11/10 and people start selling their PS5s."
Ironically, Xbox One initially pushed digital ownership over physical copies. But, the plan backfired and let Sony race ahead of the Xbox One.
It's safe to say that the PlayStation hasn't looked back since, even though the Xbox, via the Game Pass, is technically more supportive of digital games ownership and video game preservation.
Perhaps this massive "loss" explains why Microsoft has taken a step back from the console wars and turned the Xbox into a service, with Spencer hinting at this by saying, "people play with their friends regardless of what other screen they're on."
Ultimately, this isn't an idea that most, including us, can't agree with Spencer. At the end of the day, great games will sell platforms. If Starfield is indeed an 11/10 when it comes out in September, it'll make people buy more Xbox Series S and X units, as opposed to what's happening right now where Xbox is struggling to sell consoles.
Nintendo has proven over several generations the quality of your games matters the most. Last year's mainline Pokemon games, Scarlet and Violet, sold well despite the game's subpar performance on the Switch. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is expected to post similar numbers if not better even if it's a taxing game that will undoubtedly push the Switch to its limits.
It'll be interesting to see what this "unique vision" Phil Spencer has for the Xbox brand, but for now, it's all sounding like Spencer is just making excuses to save face.
If it's any consolation, Spencer did recently own up to the company's faults for letting a game like Redfall come out in its sorry state.