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"YOU'RE WINNER !" — Victory screen from Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing
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Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational technology company based in One Microsoft Way, 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 acquisitions in this period 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. Since 2020, Microsoft has greatly expanded its gaming division via a series of major acquisition, most notably the acquisition of Bethesda Softworks and its associated companies for $8.1 billion in March 2021, and a pending deal to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in January 2022.
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 2022, Microsoft is the third largest company in the world (after Amazon Co. and Apple Inc.) and third largest video game company in the world by revenue (after Tencent and Sony).
Unfortunately, since the 1998-2001 antitrust lawsuit regarding PC and Internet monopolization with Windows and Internet Explorer bundling, the company became very greedy with the release of the Original Xbox by charging players a subscription service to play online games, which was worsened with the Xbox One, as well shoving Co-op in several games. Not only that, but they also bought several companies to monopolize.
NOTE: While there are issues with Microsoft as a whole, this page will primarily cover the problems with Xbox Game Studios
- The company is well-known for being extremely greedy, and focus mostly on getting as much money as possible (Does this sound familiar to you?). For example, online multiplayer on any Xbox consoles require Xbox Live Gold (except Free-to-play titles as of 2021). Other examples include overcharging for games like Kinect: Joy Ride, Halo 3: ODST and Sea Of Thieves, charging a premium in-game purchase in Microsoft Solitaire Collection, 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 doesn't help that they started the paid online multiplayer trend not too long after the 1998-2001 antitrust lawsuit, a period where the company didn't exactly have the best reputation.
- 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.
- Many have also speculated that Microsoft's forced Co-op practices contributed to the cancellations of Fable Legends and Scalebound.
- They still use non-rechargeable batteries for their controllers, which is a problem due to the following problems. They claim it is because for longer shelf life and flexibility, but using AA batteries for a controller in 2022 is not "flexible."
- The Wireless Controller's of the Xbox 360 and Xbox One battery life is short and dies a little quickly compared to DualShock Wireless Controllers. When this happens, it forces you to use your controller wired and it makes you waste money on batteries (unless it's rechargeable).
- The batteries in the Xbox 360 controller don't connect to the controllers directly, instead they are placed in a separate piece built as a peripheral that attaches to the controller. This piece can loosen off and disconnect your controller during gameplay very easily. Also, there is a rechargeable battery pack that is not bundled with each wireless controller you purchase.
- 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 Wi-Fi 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.
- They have started acquiring third-party studios just for the sake of pushing Xbox Game Pass, most notably Zenimax Media (which owns Bethesda Softworks) and Activision Blizzard.
- They released the Elite Series controllers claiming that they are the best controllers 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.
- Windows holds a near-monopoly on PC gaming, at over 90 (95-96% according to Steam Hardware Survey in May 2022) percent.
- Their consoles have some backward compatibility errors due to limitation of the library of games and firmware errors:
- Backwards compatibility with the original Xbox in the Xbox 360 is very limited since only a certain number of games can be played, with some games being removed in some firmware updates. Some Xbox 360 S models lack backwards compatibility all together, with a message saying an update may be required to support games that are already on the backwards compatibility list. Lots of original Xbox games played on the 360 are also bound to have some bugs like graphical glitches, lag and frame rate drops. For example, in Halo 2, players may occasionally observe ghost images displayed on the screen and performance issues occur when playing on the Backwash map.
- Although the Xbox One supports some Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles, there are a couple issues:
- It's not the full library of original Xbox and Xbox 360 titles.
- If any game requires the Xbox 360 Kinect or any other specialized peripherals, such as a guitar controller, then that game is not available for backwards compatibility.
- Even if you do have the compatible games, you still actually have to download the games which can take up your hard drive basically forcing you to get a USB 3.0 external hard drive or solid state drive.
- On June 10, 2019, Microsoft announced that they will stop adding more games to focus on its successor, the Xbox Series X/S.
- In November 2021, for the Xbox's 20th anniversary, Microsoft added backwards compatibility for 70 games.
- 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 and Halo Infinite's Multiplayer are recent examples of this.
- 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). Thankfully, on April 21, they removed this feature for good.
- 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 lose all the money you spent on the service. 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 Microsoft Services Agreement.
- 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 and Windows 11 to run your game, but in order to use it, you must have your game inside Microsoft Store (formerly 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, along with $499 pricing and technical issues during presentation. 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. This almost ruined the Xbox brand's reputation until Phil Spencer became the head of Xbox Game Studios.
- 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). Couple that with 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 slap in the face when Microsoft talked about the next Xbox).
- Their Kinect add-on for the Xbox 360 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 cringeworthy 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 to this day.
- They have a huge habit of abusing their subsidiaries to death, mostly with executive meddling. They have shut down Ensemble Studios, Press Play, and Lionhead Studios, and even caused Darkside Game Studios, the studio developing the reboot to Phantom Dust, to close down after the game's cancellation. In addition, they 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.
- In fact, the reason Microsoft cancelled 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" which is a really bad excuse.
- Their Japanese support has been pretty lackluster. While they have supported Japan during the Original Xbox and Xbox 360 days (despite not selling well), they have lately been giving them little support which resulted in the Xbox One selling even worse in Japan than the previous two consoles ever did.
- Not to mention that they only focus on the major Japanese publishers like Bandai Namco Entertainment, Square Enix, Capcom, Sega, Koei Tecmo and Konami. Because of this, many smaller Japanese developers and publishers have outright abandoned making games for their platforms.
- 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).
- 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.
- Their first-party publishing was awful in the late 2010's. 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 their friends or play in creations of theirs.
- During their E3 events, they 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.
- 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; there was 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 with Gears of War 4 and Gears 5 but however, with the releases of Gears POP and Gears Tactics, it could further prove this series will also be on-board the Milking Train.
- 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 example was their gameplay demo for 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 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.
- 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!"
- Former executive Mike Ybarra (now of Blizzard Entertainment) 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 force DRM on their backwards compatible games for the Xbox Series X.
- They tend to stretch other companies' properties for no reason other than to try & milk the name just for profit and gaining more money, such as when they stole Rare from Nintendo in 2002 and even had the balls to even purchase Nintendo themselves along with Rare themselves, but Nintendo thankfully refused the deal as they still wanted to make their own games and consoles, and didn't want to make games on a system that felt too mature for their liking, but sadly for Rare, they were fully brought out by Microsoft and began to suffer from a major decline since then.
- They always make inferior ports of their beloved IPs by downgrading the graphics or making a big amount of changes that were completely unnecessary or just flat out dumb, such as the several ports of Minecraft from each separate multiplatform version, which are still fantastic though, but still suffer from quite a bit of a huge amount of downgrades such as the missing content from the PC version, or being riddled with a severe amount of glitches here or there, and several more other aspects that were downgraded from the original PC version, but again they are still very good and are at least faithful to the original PC version.
- Some may argue that they are buying too many game developers, and Microsoft, as a whole, is very likely going to turn into a monopoly, especially given their recent Activision acquisitions. [Here's a comprehensive list of all of Microsoft's past acquisitions].
- Between 2010 and 2016, female employees filed a total of 238 internal complaints about gender discrimination or sexual harassment. One of these complaints was "founded" by the company. Bill Gates acknowledged that he had an affair with a female employee while he was still married. This scandal showed that Microsoft was no better than Activision Blizzard.
- In April 2019, CEO Satya Nadella announced that the company would change its rules on handling complaints of harassment and discrimination.
- Ironically, they criticized Activision Blizzard of doing this and later sided with both Sony & Nintendo to give pay their respects to those who used to work at the entire company itself (though they did backfire at this though as they later announced that they would buy out Activision for their Xbox line-up as apart of their own Game Pass).
Despite their downfall and their history of greed, they still are good enough to be on Awesome Games Wiki. For the points, click here.
- Steam Hardware & Software Survey: May 2022 (archived)