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Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational technology company with headquarters in Redmond, Washington. It develops, manufactures, licenses, supports and sells computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and services.
Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen on April 4, 1975, to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800. It rose to dominate the personal computer operating system market with MS-DOS in the mid-1980s, followed by Microsoft Windows. The company's 1986 initial public offering (IPO), and subsequent rise in its share price, created three billionaires and an estimated 12,000 millionaires among Microsoft employees. Since the 1990s, it has increasingly diversified from the operating system market and has made a number of corporate acquisitions, their largest being the acquisition of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in December 2016, followed by their acquisition of Skype Technologies for $8.5 billion in May 2011.
Its best-known software products are the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, the Microsoft Office suite, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge web browsers. Its flagship hardware products are the Xbox video game consoles and the Microsoft Surface lineup of touchscreen personal computers. In 2020, Microsoft is the 3rd largest company in the world (after Amazon Co. and Apple Inc.).
This article will mostly focus on its business practices in the gaming industry but some of the reasons do focus on software related stuff as well.
Why They Suck Now
- They are extremely greedy, and focus only on the money. For example, online multiplayer on Xbox 360 and Xbox One requires Xbox Live Gold. Other examples include releasing a crappy version of Minecraft for the Xbox One, PS4, Switch, and Windows with microtransactions, overcharging for games like Kinect: Joy Ride, Halo 3: ODST and Sea Of Thieves, charging a premium in-game purchase in Solitaire, and forcing Valve to put a price on some DLC for the 360 versions of Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2. Not to mention deliberately removing Split-Screen Multiplayer from Halo 5: Guardians in an attempt to force gamers to cough up more money to buy another console, a copy of the game and a Gold Membership just to play with each other!
- It's also hard to notice but Microsoft has been deliberately shoving multiplayer down gamers throats when they don't want to. Notable examples are Halo 5: Guardians and State of Decay 2 because while players do have the option to play the campaign/story by themselves, it can be deeply frustrating due to the player's allies having really bad AI which forces players to, yet again, pay for a Gold Membership to play with online gamers just to complete it! Another example is Sea Of Thieves which again allows players to play by themselves but it makes it frustrating to man the ship since the game was designed around Co-op gameplay. There are concerns that the upcoming Xbox exclusives, Everwild and the Fable Reboot, will also try to force multiplayer down gamers throats as well.
- When the Xbox 360 came out in 2005, it was sold in two packages: the Premium which was sold at $399, and the Core which was sold at $299. While the Core version was cheaper, it severely lacks many accessories that were necessary like a Wifi adapter, Memory Card, or even a Hard Drive which forced gamers to go out and buy all of these just to play their games or play online. It should also be noted that these accessories weren't exactly cheap at the time.
- During the modern format wars between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, Microsoft unfortunately chose the latter which was getting utterly decimated by its competitor and also allowed Sony to snatch it. Even with that, it wouldn't have been so bad if the HD-DVD player was already built inside the Xbox 360 but instead, Microsoft decided to sell it separately for $200 which, even for the time, was just outrageous!
- As solid as the infrastructure is, Xbox Live still has issues:
- The service paywalls free-to-play games like Warframe and Fortnite behind its Gold subscription, defeating the point of the free-to-play model (PS4, Switch, PC, and mobile devices don't require a subscription to play these types of games).
- It is possible to get disconnected from Xbox Live for no apparent reason on Xbox One.
- From the era of the Xbox 360 to today, they can ban people for no reason most of the time, so you can lose your subscription, games you got getting blocked from playing them, and totally get your money! This happened with a lot of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 streamers who were just streaming the game and suddenly got banned without doing anything that broke anything related to the ToS.
- Xbox Live multiplayer didn't run first-party games on dedicated servers until the Xbox One released in 2013.
- They recently updated its policy to where if you swear even once, you will not only be banned from Xbox Live, but punishments may also include forfeiture of content licenses, Xbox Gold membership time, and Microsoft account balances associated with the account.
- At one point, they planned to integrate loot boxes into Xbox Live achievements and avatars, that is to say, applying loot boxes to console features!?
- Meta: By charging for online multiplayer on all their consoles, the practice encouraged Sony and Nintendo to do the same with the PS4 and Switch, respectively. Sony at least offered two to four free games a month that offered value for the price of PS Plus since Day 1. And despite how awful Nintendo Switch Online is, it's far cheaper to pay for than Xbox Live and even free-to-play games, like Fortnite, don't require it. Microsoft made online multiplayer the only incentive for Xbox Live Gold for many, many years.
- UWP (Universal Windows Platform). It allows any device with Windows 10 to run your game, but in order to use it, you must have your game inside Windows Store, which will charge 30% of your total revenue. It also restricts any kind of modding support.
- The Xbox One E3 announcement was a complete disaster. The event led to widespread criticism for focusing more on TV integration, sports, and features rather than games. The company went on a massive damage control campaign shortly afterwards. This has led Microsoft executives to say some asinine stuff; such as Adam Orth telling critics of DRM to "#DealWithIt" in a condescending manner, and of course, Don Mattrick's now-infamous "We have a device for those who can't get online: it's called Xbox 360" line.
- The Xbox One X was an unfortunate waste of R&D. It was the most powerful console in the eight-generation, but many games didn't utilize its full capabilities and even if they, they were mostly the same graphical improvements seen in the PS4 Pro (which was a hundred dollars cheaper). The severe lack of compelling games made it hard to justify spending $500 on it. And for those who did buy it, they got a huge slapped in the face when Microsoft talked about the next Xbox.
- Microsoft reduced Rare into making shovelware titles for the Kinect after the mess that was Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. However, they have stopped developing games for the Kinect after Kinect Sports Rivals, and they're now back to developing regular games, and even then, they still sit on their IP's and pander to nostalgia. Grant Kirkhope, a composer for Rare who left to become a freelance composer, said Rare was killed by Microsoft.
- The Kinect itself was a poorly implemented gimmick, due to its games usually having awful motion controls, by removing the controller from the equation in favor of using the whole body as the controller. When it was first announced, they let kids demonstrate how Kinect works, making their E3 conferences painful and straight up cringey to watch. Microsoft decided to kill off the Kinect, and Xbox One consoles no longer are bundled with the Kinect. In fact, the accessory is no longer being manufactured. Even the remasters of Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure and Disneyland Adventures do not require Kinect, as it is optional.
- Speaking of Kinect, even if you wanted to use the Xbox One's Kinect today, you wouldn't be able to do much with it as the newer Xbox One dashboard updates have now completely removed Kinect integrations like Gestures and Voice Commands and only made it strictly for games. It should be noted that the Xbox One is fully capable of having a hybrid dashboard (that allows you to switch from the normal dashboard to the Kinect dashboard) as the Xbox 360 had it with its own Kinect and is still being used with it till this day!
- They kept milking the Bedrock Edition of Minecraft to no end, leaving behind the Java Edition/PC version. In December 10th, they discontinued the entire Legacy Console Edition by porting this version for the PlayStation 4. Surprisingly, retail and digital copies of Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, and PlayStation Vita can be found and still playable, though that these versions doesn't receive updates anymore.
- Some of Microsoft's marketing tactics range from questionable to borderline illegal. The most infamous example is when they approached Machinima and paid some of their partners to say nothing but positive things about the Xbox One and its launch titles.
- They constantly make fans of existing IPs angry by signing exclusive deals with large third party titles for a multi-platform series (most notably Rise of the Tomb Raider).
- Almost all of their PC games nowadays are released on the Microsoft Store (except for Gears 5, which can still be bought on Steam), which is a terrible store. Before that, there was Games for Windows Live, which was also a horrible service.
- They rushed out Halo: The Master Chief Collection, resulting in a horrible launch. Even worse is that they've tried to act like it never happened by sweeping it under the carpet.
- Horrible customer support.
- Their first-party publishing has been awful as of late; outside of Halo, Gears, and Forza (although even Halo has suffered recently, see in BQ #17) everything they have released since 2017 has been mediocre at best, scoring 70 or less on Metacritic, with Crackdown 3 being the latest disappointment. A lot of their games even got outright cancelled, like Stormlands, Phantom Dust (2015), Knoxville, Fable Legends and Scalebound. Heck, they even discontinued the servers for Project Spark which removed the online features; players can still create and play in their own creations but are no longer able to share them with friends or even play in their creations. Also doesn't help that the Xbox Play Anywhere initiative gives every Xbox One and Xbox Series exclusive game a direct PC port, further diminishing the console's overall value.
- They have shifted a lot of their focus towards Indie games. While they are still great to play, that shouldn't be the Xbox console's main focus as it should be on AAA exclusives, especially considering that a lot of those Indie games were released on other platforms as well. In fact, at their E3s, they tend to announce showing off 50 or 60 games but a hefty amount of them are Indie games and they often try to speed through thinking gamers wouldn't notice or even care (but some obviously do).
- Speaking of their E3 events, they also tend to show off a lot of games that display "Console Launch Exclusive". This practice can get extremely annoying as it not only means that games will come out on the Xbox One first but they would later get ported to other consoles which defeats the whole purpose of saying "Exclusive". One of the earliest examples of this was PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds which, by the way, was an abysmal port and was eventually released on PS4 anyways.
- They included loot boxes in Forza Motorsport 7 which contain exclusive items such as cars, driver items, and even difficulty selections (which were selectable without loot boxes in older Forza games). They removed the loot boxes from the game later on down the road.
- Due to the Halo series' success, Microsoft has been milking the franchise (in a bad way), causing Bungie to leave out of franchise fatigue and even building a studio called 343 Industries to make only Halo games, but they've been nowhere near as good as the old ones. Halo 4, the first main series game made by 343 Industries, was a decent game but Halo: The Master Chief Collection had terrible multiplayer at launch and Halo 5: Guardians was very polarizing, and also had loot boxes before games such as Overwatch popularized it. They have also been milking the Forza series lately; there has been a new Forza game every year from 2011 to 2018 when the Forza Motorsport devs are working on fixing Forza Motorsport 7. Gears has luckily had a considerable amount of development time as Gears Of War 4 and Gears 5 were generally well-received but however, with the recent releases of Gears POP and Gears Tactics, it could further prove this series will also be on-board the Milking Train.
- This is further proven by the inclusion of microtransactions into both Gears Of War 4 and Gears 5 which further proves how they're milking this franchise as much as they can, showing where their priorities lie the most.
- They have become well known for overhyping their games way too much as they mostly put more money into their advertisements rather than their game's development. The best recent examples are Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Halo 5: Guardians, State Of Decay 2, Sea Of Thieves and Crackdown 3 which led to them to being huge disappointments. This was another reason for the cancellations of Phantom Dust (2015), Fable Legends and Scalebound.
- Another recent example was their gameplay for the upcoming Halo Infinite being shown at the Xbox Games Showcase. While the gameplay was OK, it was heavily criticized for its unappealing graphics that failed to meet gamers expectations and didn't really show off what the upcoming Xbox Series X was capable of, which was a major factor that caused the game to be delayed to 2021.
- They like to beat around the bush when it comes to sales figures; they claim that State of Decay 2 had one million players in 48 hours after release, and even mundane things like "6 million snacks eaten". Okay, but how can that translate into actual sales? This is possibly to cover up potentially low sales numbers.
- They've also, to this day, not shown the actual sales figures for the Xbox One which is ironic considering Nintendo were able to show off the Wii U's lackluster sales figures.
- The company is one of the few publishers that want to push the "Games as a Service" model. This means they may start releasing more games that are Online-Only, unfinished, filled with bugs and glitches, loaded with microtransactions, have frivolous DLC on Day 1, constant content updates, etc. Sea of Thieves was a more recent example of this. There are also major concerns that the next entry in the series, Halo Infinite, will feature heavy monetization, and will be more like a "Live Service".
- As of late, Microsoft has been prioritizing controllers, console features and Xbox Game Pass over compelling first-party exclusive games for the Xbox One. There is a running joke within the gaming community that Microsoft "has more controllers than they have exclusives!"
- One of the executives, Mike Ybarra, even went after Sony, claiming they aren't listening to gamers for not allowing cross-play, when he should be worrying about the issues his own platform has. This comes off rather hypocritical on Microsoft's part since they not only continue to paywall free-to-play games, but they aren't pushing first-party exclusive games, which fans have been demanding for since the beginning.
- They released the Elite Series controllers claiming that is the best controller for "Professional gamers", but it is extremely overpriced, costing half the price of an Xbox One, and what's worse is that these controllers are infamously known for their extremely poor quality and short warranty time. Also, the extra functions of the controller are not worth the price.
- They have started acquiring third-party studios just for the sake of pushing Xbox Game Pass, with the most recent example being Zenimax Media (who owns Bethesda Softworks).
- On top of that, they started to ruin those studios to death. A famous example is when they bought Mojang (along with Minecraft) and ruined them. They've also shut down Ensemble Studios, Press Play, and Lionhead Studios. They even caused Darkside Game Studios, the studio developing the reboot to Phantom Dust, to close down after the game's cancellation.
- In fact, adding to WTSN #15 and #24, the reason Microsoft canceled Press Play's Knoxville and shutdown Press Play itself was to "focus its investment and development on the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and want to play".
- Instead of extending Windows 7 support for free (as they did to Windows XP when Windows Vista had its development reset), they force users after January 2020 to pay a monthly fee to extend support until 2023, with the price increasing each year after 2020 until 2023. Alongside that, you will only gain support if you're running Professional or Enterprise SKUs of Windows 7.
- They try very hard to force their own products and leave out third party. Some beta builds of Windows 10 October 2018 update has the ability to intercept the installation of third-party browsers in favor of Edge. Luckily, this check was removed shortly after.
- Microsoft has tried to force Windows 7 and Windows 8.x users to upgrade to Windows 10. This caused many Windows 7 and 8.x users to either just not upgrade and keep their current OS, or migrate to other operating systems, like Linux.
- Very little testing goes into Windows 10 updates, even after Windows Insiders filed bug reports for numerous major issues. Microsoft had to delay the April 2018 update because of major stability problems and worse is that October 2018 actually deleted user files upon update. It took Microsoft three days to pull the original October 2018 update, but users who lost their data from the update could not retrieve their files without third-party software.
- They rushed the Windows ME development so much that the operating system crashed and suffered from several BSOD errors, glitches, and bugs, making the home users end up staying at Windows 98 or buying the superior Windows 2000, which was intended for business use.
- In addition, they're rushed Windows Vista as well, as the operating system had lots of bugs, glitches, poor optimization for old hardware etc., because of this, they're released Windows 7 two years after Vista's launch.
- The Vista Capable branding on Windows XP computers, which ruined Windows Vista's reputation.
- They have also killed off Hardware Accelerated Audio (Creative's EAX technology, which it doesn't work on Vista and later operating systems anymore without using Creative's Alchemy tool).
- Just like eBay, they suspend accounts for little or no reason. And everytime it's suspended, you have to verify your phone number.
There was a time where Microsoft made consoles that people wanted to support, and released games that are considered revolutionary. As mentioned above however, they have been corrupted by greed and terrible decision making. See Microsoft on the Awesome Games Wiki to see everything they did right. Other things include:
- We wouldn't have the Windows operating system, nor would Apple be in the position it is currently in if Microsoft didn't exist (since Apple once used Microsoft's software).
- Xbox Live practically gave birth to an online multiplayer as we know it. For better or worse. Despite charging for it at the start, gamers forgave it since the technology wasn't as advanced back then, yet was still revolutionary for the time.
- They published or developed several awesome games, like the Halo series (Bungie era, i.e. from Halo Combat Evolved to Halo: Reach), and Gears of War. Their racing franchise, Forza Motorsport, was the only one that gave Sony's own Gran Turismo series any kind of competition. The OG Xbox and the 360 had games that made the consoles worth buying.
- They brought back Minecraft to its popularity after releasing the 1.14 and 1.12.0 updates of both Java and Bedrock Editions and made a massive improvement over the old versions by fixing a lot of bugs and glitches, adding new features and new mobs.
- Windows 10 was a huge improvement over Windows 8 that it brought back desktop mode from Windows 7 and you can switch back to Windows 8's Metro Interface by choice. It was also the most popular OS among Steam users until the popularity of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and later Among Us in China where Windows 10 was being overtaken by Windows 7 due to the OS being popular in China.
- Despite their bad practices with various "exclusives" for Xbox One, it is still pretty nice to see these games come out on PC, so more people can have an opportunity to play them.
- However, it also can be ruined by fact that they can be bought only from Windows Store and even then it forces you to have Windows 10 installed as your operating system even if you just want to buy the game.
- Phil Spencer does at least show good faith towards his competitors by congratulating them and their developers on successful game launches (though this could trigger some Xbox fans due to how he's not supporting the console).
- Microsoft always strives to push for the best console hardware, and for the most part, they do deliver.
- They are willing to support Japanese games, given the presence of many Japanese games they showed at E3 2018, which should kill the Xbox One fanboy narrative of "Japanese games suck!"
- However, most of those are third-party titles as opposed to first-party exclusives.
- Microsoft added Xbox Game Pass which gives you full access to over 100 games by just playing a monthly subscription. You get to even download 360 and even OG Xbox titles. However, this is a double-edged sword since new games get added day one and can be played for £7.99/$9.99 a month rather than being bought at full price. Because of this, fans may start excusing these games if the quality isn't up to standards.
- They also have a service called Games For Gold, where those with an Xbox Live Gold subscription can download up to 4 full games for free, all with their different times that you can play them until they expire. And all Xbox One, 360 and OG Xbox Games are going to be available for free if chosen!
- Following the backlash of trying to increase Xbox Live Gold to $120 a year, Microsoft eventually reversed their decision, but also plans to finally lift the requirement for free online games to need Xbox Live Gold.