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A Look Back at Xbox One’s Turnaround Year

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Another year bites the dust.

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The Xbox One didn’t have the smoothest transition out of the gate when it was released at the tail end of 2013. Here was a platform that was following up what was considered to be one of the best home consoles ever released. It smashed all of the original Xbox’s records and made a name for itself by aligning with some of the biggest video games in the industry.

The Xbox One had some big shoes to fill but most had faith that it could do so with no problem. Not a single fan in the world wanted to see a repeat of the PlayStation 3, a prime example how a company can fall from greatness (even if it was only temporary). Unfortunately the green machine never learned from its competition and 2014  was not a good year for the Xbox One. A struggling message, and the PS4 capitalizing heavily on their faltering made it very difficult for the Xbox One to recapture that momentum that the brand had held for so many years. But then 2015 came along.


Phil Spencer had a plan. He was going to do his best to give the Xbox One the best damn year he could. It would require a re-cementing of the platform’s message (with a touch of rewriting of course). Then he would need to create a line-up that no other platform could match which would take a lot of deals, and some serious posturing. But in the end, it may have just paid off. 2015 showed a turnaround for the struggling platform and it all began with a Windows 10 event.

xbox windows 10

It was during the Windows 10 event that Phil Spencer expressed his plans for combining the Xbox One and Windows 10 devices. It was a way to put gaming at the forefront of his message instead of him just pushing a single platform onto prospective fans. That message of gaming first was initially introduced during E3 2014 and the head of Xbox wanted to make sure that he carried it throughout the entirety of 2015 in order to give the Xbox One a leg to stand on. Of course, it would take some time for everything to come to fruition, so Team Xbox kept their heads down as they focused on other ways to make their platform shine.

The step to doing that was showing off some new and exciting content that players could expect in the near future. This was eventually called the ‘best lineup in Xbox history.’ E3 2015 kicked this off with games like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Halo 5: Guardians along with 2016 newcomers Scalebound and Quantum Break. There was also the reveal of the Xbox Elite Controller (one of the best gaming peripherals you could get your hands on at the moment) and a very huge announcement that nobody was expecting: the folks over at Microsoft figured out how to make the Xbox One backwards compatible.

This sent a wave through the industry, as some people were still wary about upgrading due to the large library that was available on the last generation of consoles. While there were many individuals who claimed they didn’t need the feature, it was admittedly a very big deal. The Xbox One was finally able to offer something that its primary competition could not, and it was something that fans didn’t mind having (unlike the once mandatory Kinect). Both digital and disc games would be able to be played later in the year with an initial supported library that would be expanded on in the coming months.

Then Gamescom came along. The Xbox conference during Gamescom 2015 was the first time gameplay for a large number of these games that everyone wanted to see was shown off. Scalebound’s frenetic, dragon-powered action was revealed,Crackdown 3 got a gameplay trailer and the ‘power of the cloud’ that had been touted for months was finally shown off in complete world destruction. The highly elusive Quantum Break finally got a release date, as well as some new details as the game moved closer to its final form. All of the dominoes were falling into place. Helping Spencer and company out a bit more was the fact that both Sony and Nintendo decided to sit out for the conference allowing Microsoft to soak up all of the limelight. Now all they had to do was execute.

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