Two consoles, games accessible to all … In its 20th anniversary, Xbox adapts to the new habits of its players

November 15, 2001 is a date that many players will never forget. This is the day that Microsoft had chosen to join the battle of video games with its Xbox. Despite the mixed commercial success with 24.65 million units sold versus 155 million for the PlayStation 2, the first console from the computer giant has established itself and impressed. In part, thanks to licenses that have become a cult today like Forza or Halo. These games remain relevant with recent releases on Xbox Series X / S. Additionally, on November 19, 2021, the first cited game reached ten million users for its fifth installment, ten days after its release date. A figure that should be put into perspective because Forza Horizon 5 is included in Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s “games” subscription service.

Over the past 20 years, gamers have been able to experience four generations of Xbox consoles. The Xbox 360, released in 2005, will continue to be the most important for many. It remains to this day the best-selling Xbox with more than 85 million copies sold. This success is due in part to multiple technological innovations and the environment developed by Microsoft to compete with Sony, its main competitor. A finding that is noticeable with the Xbox Series X. The US manufacturer has made the most powerful console on the market, but nevertheless remains behind Sony in the sales battle (in October 2021, 13.4 million for the PS5 according to Sony figures and 8 million for Xbox according to analyst Daniel Ahmad).

But according to Ina Gelbert, who has led the Xbox brand in France since September 2019, thinking about Microsoft’s machine is not being carried out solely to win a “war” against competition. For the director, the main objective is to offer the best possible experience to the players. “We think about what gamers want. We want to give them the option to be able to consume the game the way they want. If they want a great console, we try to provide them with the best console there is (with Series X, editor’s note). Yes. they are looking for a large catalog of games, they can subscribe to our Game Pass. And if they want to play everywhere, we provide them with a cloud gaming system. Remove the barriers and do not offend the players, “she says.

The Xbox Series S (white) is 100% digital, while the Series X (black) has a 4K Blu-Ray player. (JUNG YEON-JE / AFP)

Microsoft’s global communication has evolved on the mistakes made during the presentation of the Xbox One, launched in November 2013. In the months before the arrival of the console, the company had focused its comments on the multimedia and ultra-connected aspect since its machine. Without really taking into account the will of the community. The exorbitant introductory price due to the Kinect camera that came with the device had also dampened gamers’ enthusiasm. “The multimedia aspect has been criticized although it has been used a lot. The players want above all a video game console”, admits lna Gelbert.

With the launches of Xbox Series X and S, the American multinational therefore seeks to get closer to the current wishes of the players. In particular betting on accessibility to the next generation, with the S Series that is less efficient, 100% digital and less expensive. These two machines provide users with an option that is tailored according to their video game practice.

GRAMthanks to projects used in internal, Microsoft is compromised make video games Y its ecosystem to all. In 2018, the firm to commercialized tome adaptive controller intended for people with disabilities.

“The Xbox Adaptive Controller Enabled to develop accessories. And that gave visibility to people with disabilities. We have a responsibility to cover these topics. We target millions of players. It is important for us because it facilitates the task of associations “, details the director of Xbox France whose mission isto work for the opening of the game for everyone.

From 2020, another program accessibility to emerged, called “Xbox Accessibility Guidelines”, which can be translated as an accessibility guide. L ‘Initiative for developers videogame to allow them to do your playable titless through everything.This guide supports studios in their creation process, detailing all the steps to make a game usable by everyone. The goal is to ensure that accessibility will be taken into account in the development and that it will not be added at the end “, details this fan of the Halo saga.

By acquiring 23 studios that produce content for Xbox, Microsoft wants to strengthen the offering of its monthly subscription service called “Xbox Game Pass”. The catalog currently offers hundreds of games, including next-gen exclusives available at launch and classics released on older consoles. This system, which can benefit PC and Xbox gamers, changes video game consumption practices. “It has become essential in our ecosystem. We notice it in the players who use it. Originally, they subscribed to one or two games and then were tempted by many others, “says the director.

This facility has gained access to several titles and is intended to expand further in the future. “When we look to the future, we want our players to be able to access games in the cloud (in beta for now). That is, they can continue playing their games on their phones or using a smart TV where they need an app. Xbox and a controller ”, imagine.

Should we therefore imagine the future of video games without a console, following the example of movies and series whose consumption on streaming platforms is skyrocketing? Xbox wants in any case to adapt to the times and the new habits of its players. “What characterizes the brand is the experience in the ecosystem, the fluidity, the services that we have made available to the players,” said Ina Gelbert. The goal is to say that Xbox will be able to evolve without necessarily the world of consoles. Yes, we want to continue being very good at the console part because it is still our core business, but we don’t want to limit ourselves for the future. “

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