When the mere mention of your console at EVO 2013 elicits booing from the crowd, you know you have a public relations problem. In an interview with IGN, Xbox One chief product officer Marc Whitten admitted that Microsoft screwed it up when it came to selling the next-gen console's features to players.
"I think it's pretty simple. We've got to just talk more, get people understanding what our system is,” Whitten said. “The thing that's really gratifying is that people are excited about the types of features that are possible, and it's sort of shame on us that we haven't done as good of a job as we can to make people feel like that's where we're headed."
"The number one thing I want to do is I want to get the product out, because people are going to use it and obviously a lot of this is more evident, but certainly what I want to do right is now is talk more about how we thought about these features,” he continued. “I see people feeling like we've moved away from digital, when certainly I don't believe that's the case. I believe we've added on choice for people. It was an addition of a feature onto Xbox One, not a removal of a feature. And I understand people see things like Family Sharing and they're like, 'Wow, I was really looking forward to that,' which is more of an engineering reality time frame type-thing."
More than 25,000 supporters have signed the Change.org petition asking for Microsoft to revert back to the Xbox One shown prior to E3 2013. One of the biggest features that potential Xbox One users are missing is the Family Sharing option, allowing all members of a family to share in a purchased title.
"When I read some of the things like that petition, from my perspective we took a lot of the feedback and, while Xbox One is built to be digital native, to have this amazing online experience, we realized people wanted some choice. They wanted what I like to call a bridge, sort of how they think about the world today using more digital stuff. What we did, we added to what the console can do by providing physical and offline modes in the console. It isn't about moving away from what that digital vision is for the platform. Frankly, I think we need to just do more to let people see how the console works, what they're going to be able to do for it.”
"Family Sharing is a great example of how you do that with content. I think you're going to see us, both with examples like that and with other things, keep pushing on how that's something great. An example is some of the stuff we're doing with what we announced around Gold, where other people in the house get the advantages of Gold when I'm a Gold member. You're going to see us continue to push in those areas.”
Whitten explained that the loss of Family Sharing when Microsoft first announced its reversal on Xbox One's always-online system was not a spiteful move by the company. Instead, Microsoft needs to figure out how to implement the feature under a different online infrastructure.
“I probably should have been more clear,” Whitten said. “We took some feedback and realized there was some stuff we needed to add to the program. We had to make room, just from a pure engineering perspective, to be able to get that work done. So taking Family Sharing out of the launch window was not about 'we're going to take our toys and go home' or something like that. It was just sort of the logistics of 'how do we get this very, very clear request that people really want, that choice, and how do we make sure we can do an excellent job of that, get to launch, and then be able to build a bunch of great features?'"
"You know, if there's anything I think that Xbox 360 has proven, it's that we're super committed to this constant cycle of improving the experience and the software, and it's what we've been doing for 360 for the past seven years, and it's certainly where we're going to go with Xbox One.”