Former Microsoft Xbox team member slams current state of Xbox 360

Microsoft has been patting itself on the back this week for its successful Xbox business, saying that it has now sold a total of 76 million Xbox 360 consoles, along with 24 million Kinect add-on devices. It also says it now has 46 million Xbox Live members.

One man who was part of the original Xbox team believes, however, that Microsoft's "success" with the Xbox in the last few years has not really been Microsoft's doing. In fact, he believes that it's all due to the failures of Sony and Nintendo in the console business. That man is Nat Brown and he posted his thoughts on the current Xbox business in a blog post this week on his personal site, ILIKE.CODE.

Brown worked at Microsoft from 1990 to 1999, two years before the launch of the original Xbox. However, before he left he was part of the engineering team that sold the Xbox idea to Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. In fact, Brown takes credit for coming up with the name "Xbox".

In his blog post, Brown faults Microsoft for not offering smaller developers a better way to sell games on the console. While Microsoft offers some form of this support in Xbox Live Indie Games, Brown counters that it should be much easier. He says:

Why can’t I write a game for xBox tomorrow using $100 worth of tools and my existing Windows laptop and test it on my home xBox or at my friends’ houses? Why can’t I then distribute it digitally in a decent online store, give up a 30% cut and strike it rich if it’s a great game, like I can for Android, for iPhone, or for iPad?

Brown also feels that the OS and user interface in the current Xbox 360 is "creaky, slow, and full-of-s***", adding, "You don’t turn on your xBox to play a game quickly — it takes multiple minutes to load, flow through its splash screens, and then get you playing."

Brown also repeats what Valve founder Gabe Newell stated a few weeks ago. Brown believes Apple could launch an effort to be more present in the living room which could "simply kill Playstation, Wii-U and xBox." Brown end his blog post by saying:

xBox just needs somebody with a brain and focus to get the product in order tactically before romping forward to continue the long-term strategic promise of an xBox in every living room, connected to every screen.

Source: ILIKE.CODE | Image via Microsoft

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Butt hurt ex-employee from two years before the original Xbox was released, slams MS.
I couldn't care less about that. Interesting article though, shows how some people really really need to sort themselves out and grow up.

He does strike a point about all the ****in splash screens. Every game these days has them, but on Android and iOS you generally only get the developer's name.

But on consoles and PC it's AMD/Nvidia logo, engine logo, publisher logo, developer logo, epilepsy warning etc. I'd rather they throw you into the start screen, letting you click start and show those when the level loads (and while you get a drink or something).

Oh yes, please flood the market with garbage that I have to dig through... Please do that. That's surely holding the XBox back... /sarcasm

Haha, this brown dude sounds like some chick left standing at the alter.

Poor thing, no one loves him...lol

Lol. This guy is ridiculous, no wonder he's not with Microsoft anymore.
"Why can't I write a game for xBox tomorrow using $100 worth of tools and my existing Windows laptop and test it on my home xBox or at my friends' houses? Why can't I then distribute it digitally in a decent online store, give up a 30% cut and strike it rich if it's a great game, like I can for Android, for iPhone, or for iPad?"

... because Xbox is a console and not like Android or iOS. This is why I think the Ouya and those other cheap Android consoles will not work. Console gaming isn't meant for cheap games.

Why does he insist on calling it the "xBox", instead of "Xbox"? It might have once been called that over a decade ago, before it was ever announced, but that's just weird nostalgia.

so former employee, not only former, from before xbox was even xbox.... credible. someone who MS didn't even consider worth enough to bring on with the team when they bought the xbox concept. yeah. ..

on top of thta, he complains about loading time. well the xbox is the fastest loading consoleout there, it's also quite old now. but then lets compare it to something brand new like the Wii U... oh right, slowest startup of any console EVER, slowest game patcher EVER. slowest game and level loading EVER.

I guess he just wanted his 15 minutes, and for some reason Neowin thought his useless rant was good enough for a few clicks to help him get that 15 minutes. sheesh, learn to filter what news to post and not, you don't need to post everything.

I like my Xbox but there is most definitely much room for improvement! I feel like the box is total locked down and the features you do get are like little bread crumbs The Xbox team is feeding you to keep you interested. Now I understand that "user experience" must make sure that the box boots, Loads up and plays games 100% of the time. Adding functions that could jeopardize that is critical. Just like a phone, no matter what you do, it must always turn on and make calls.

That being said, it still has a horrible interface, is extremely slow doing anything, and has crappy features. Plus if you want real media center experience you have to pay for a service for music or video. If I want to play the music on my PC through my Xbox the music player app is from like 1990! as well as the video player app and video codec support. I feel the DRM police are lurking behind the apps. The Media Center app is so damn slow to boot and then has slow navigation and crappy controls. The sound quality even through HDMI is also a little degraded.

Also why can I not get a Keyboard and mouse drive for USB or Bluetooth. What about an app to transfer file to and from? FTP,Windows app, or HTTP portal? How about some good options screens! easy parental controls. the ability to remember multiple network connections. Web cam app to capture movement with the kinect camera. Home automation. DVR. The list goes on. The possibilities are endless. But I keep hearing that would make it too much like a PC. It is a PC!

Lastly, the Xbox.com website is the most uncoordinated web site I have seen in a while. How many different teams or web designers did they use to make that! It has no consistency, and again the options are bad and laid out is a confusing manner. Plus the Microsoft Points system is just stupid! Just give me a dollar amount to pay!

I guess bottom line it plays games fine. It just feels so stubbed out beyond that when I know it can do so much more.

OK I have to confess, I just want Keyboard and Mouse support to play FPS games

I hate to say it.... but imagine an iGame box that connects to your TV. Can stream music, video via airplay faultlessly, stream netflix, hulu and others, rent movies, surf the web, display weather, email, icloud access (email/chat/calendar/files), easily purchase main stream games and apps from the itunes store, is a cable box and DVR and can be controlled by your iPhone or ipad or OSX or Window .

The only thing not in place for this iGame box is development agreements with the major game developers....But that would also solve the developers problem with lost revenue with buying and selling used game discs and agreements with cable companies.

Who needs dead space, mass effect, metro,fallout etc this guy could have developed the next minecraft or angry birds!

No thanks.

Developers have been making games for the Xbox 360 since 2006, with an entry cost of $99, are able to test the games on their Xbox and their friend's consoles, in addition to testing on their laptop during development. They then can submit them to Microsoft and sell them on the Xbox Marketplace and the development tools are all FREE.

So a person on the Xbox team in 1999, and has NO CLUE how the current development of Indie titles currently work and people are listening to him, why?

http://xbox.create.msdn.com/en...e/about/how_it_works_submit

Seriously, since 2006, before the iPhone existed, people were developing independent gaming 'Apps' for the Xbox 360, and this guy 7 years later decides to go on a rant about it, and isn't even close to accurate?

Edited by thenetavenger, Feb 13 2013, 4:32pm :

The average xbox360 user is not the same than the average wii or ps3 user.

For instance, it is not rare to find that a xbox360 user has owned 3 or 4 xbox360 units. Some because RROD while other because the problems with the first units and decided to "upgrade" to a new one.

Anyways, it is true that MS hasn't done so much. After all, they are still milking HALO franchise.

Brony said,
The average xbox360 user is not the same than the average wii or ps3 user.

For instance, it is not rare to find that a xbox360 user has owned 3 or 4 xbox360 units. Some because RROD while other because the problems with the first units and decided to "upgrade" to a new one.

Anyways, it is true that MS hasn't done so much. After all, they are still milking HALO franchise.

There are also people that have own several units as they have a family that likes to game together and they also want a media device for additional rooms in their home and for an extra $100 are willing to get a full Xbox instead of a limited Roku type device.

As for the RROD and multiple units, VERY FEW people have had to 'replace' or 'buy' a new Xbox, as 99% of all these issues were covered under warranty. Microsoft also had extended coverage for several other issues that were not common, but Microsoft deemed a design failure and replaced these units as well, like the Video Out error.

As for PS3 users owning one unit, I agree, as most users don't find enough use to have more than one in the house, let alone play 'online' games together in one household, especially with the laughable state of PS3s online gaming.

Oh, back to the RROD, back when Hollywood Video had 'GameCrazy' their #1 returned console was the PS2, and the #1 reason for return was smoke or fire. So I'd take the RROD over that 'quality'.

As for screwing over customers, how does that backward compatibility for PS2 games work on the PS3 after they removed the hardware to run the titles to save $15 per unit?

Nintendo is doing well, has a handle on what they are doing and know what they are NOT and don't try to compete outside of the sandbox that they own. Sony could learn from Nintendo, as they have not been able to compete in playability with the Xbox 360 or graphically, offering 'nothing' over what a user can get with the Xbox 360.

thenetavenger said,

As for the RROD and multiple units, VERY FEW people have had to 'replace' or 'buy' a new Xbox, as 99% of all these issues were covered under warranty. Microsoft also had extended coverage for several other issues that were not common, but Microsoft deemed a design failure and replaced these units as well, like the Video Out error.

I'm gonna call BS on this. I'm normally very skeptical of claims made on the internet because you can always find people complaining; however, the 360 RROD issue was very prevalent to everyone around me. My brother went through 3 consoles before jumping to the PS3. My friend Jesus, who's a member on Neowin even, went through a couple 360's and ended up giving his last one to his brothers I believe, going on to PC gaming instead.

Last neighborhood get together I was at, I was listening to the parents talking about the 360, and how their kids were gonna get a PS3 because they too went through to many 360 consoles. It's kind of sad on both sides really, considering Microsoft lost business, and Sony gained business by kids who didn't want to switch anyway.

Please don't mistake this for "hatred" towards Microsoft. I'm upset with Microsoft in many ways, but their console definitely isn't one of them. (I'm still waiting for the debut of their next console even!) There's no sense in just sweeping this under the rug though, unless you're biased to Microsoft. Sony's had it's share of issues too (see PSN).

This guy is 100% correct on every point. Microsoft has forgotten how to cut to the chase (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cut_to_the_chase), they waste so much time in elaboration.

What we want to do is make games, play games, make movies play movies, obvious stuff. But when you look at what has been done to facilitate this, XBox, it can feel like a maze.

why do my comments keep getting ate?

"You don't turn on your xBox to play a game quickly, it takes multiple minutes to load, flow through its splash screens, and then get you playing."

Lol. Is he talking about xbox? This is a complete 180 from my experience.

deadonthefloor said,

Do you have Kinect and the latest dash?
It's Slow .....

It takes some time, but multiple minutes? That's just not true.

With Apple and Google somewhat competing here, I think beautiful aesthetics are essential. The Xbox does not have that. It is clunky, it is slow.

Torolol said,

i can assure you, my ancient real SNES boots & ready to game, a lot faster.

And also doesn't do much else, you're comparing apples to oranges here.

And get the tons of bul...t, like in all app stores? MS does it right keeping Xbox for the serious games, not for ugly birds...

What games came out for Playstation this past holiday season? Playstation All-Stars the Super Smash Bros. rip off that ended up flopping? And what else? A God of War collection of old PS2 games. At least Xbox got a new Halo, Forza, Dance Central, & Fable game. PS3 has been a joke every holiday which is why it gets murdered in sales by Xbox.

Snake89 said,

Xbox is for serious games? you got to be joking right? If the Xbox was ment for serious games, then why does it only got 3 games that people play? Halo, Call of Duty, and Gears of War.

If you want a lot more serious games, then you gotta spend the money on a playstation or get a nice gaming PC.

Such as? The last few years Sony has done a better job at providing exclusive games but the majority of games are multiplatform. If you happen to like a MS exclusive then an Xbox is a cheaper option that stil plays the fast majority of games.

You might not like it but the Xbox is the core gamer's choice of console. It has by far the highest attachment rate in the industry well above PS3. PS3 might have sold as much units as the Xbox but it did so later in its lifecycle when core gamers had already decided upon the Xbox.

Microsoft was early on the market and very strong in its first few years. But I do think they are currently letting it slide and they might wake up with Sony taking the cake oncde again. but right now there is no way around it, the Xbox is a big succes, sells lots of games and is the console of choice for most serious gamers.

EDIT: with attachment rate I mean ''games per gamer''.

Brown believes Apple could launch an effort to be more present in the living room which could "simply kill Playstation, Wii-U and xBox."

Yeah, I can just picture it... the iBox Retina. Somethin like that, lol.

For me, it meant nothing when some ex-employees talk about their former company.

"xBox just needs somebody with a brain and focus to get the product in order tactically before romping forward to continue the long-term strategic promise of an xBox in every living room, connected to every screen."

That is why they don't keep you ...

It's also embarrassing when an ex-employee (or even a current one) doesn't know how to spell the name of the product they work on. It's Xbox, not xBox or XBox.

JTaylor69 said,
A comment he had wrote stated that's how he had proposed the name back in the day. Read through the comments on his blog.

Yeah, it is still not the name of the console. That's more like a fixation he has with it.

NeoNut said,
Search neowin for "slams". All news articles are written by John Callaham

Yes, it's getting tedious in its repetition. Perhaps John Callaham has a fixation with the word.

While Microsoft offers some form of this support in Xbox Live Indie Games, Brown counters that it should be much easier. He says:

Why can't I write a game for xBox tomorrow using $100 worth of tools and my existing Windows laptop and test it on my home xBox or at my friends' houses? Why can't I then distribute it digitally in a decent online store, give up a 30% cut and strike it rich if it's a great game, like I can for Android, for iPhone, or for iPad?

The Angry Bunny said,
While Microsoft offers some form of this support in Xbox Live Indie Games, Brown counters that it should be much easier. He says:

Why can't I write a game for xBox tomorrow using $100 worth of tools and my existing Windows laptop and test it on my home xBox or at my friends' houses? Why can't I then distribute it digitally in a decent online store, give up a 30% cut and strike it rich if it's a great game, like I can for Android, for iPhone, or for iPad?

Everything he asks for is already available, and the things he is complaining about are not accurate.

You can produce an Xbox game for $99, test it on your Xbox and your friends Xbox as well, and then submit it to be sold on the Xbox Live Games market.

The ironic part of this is the comparison to iPhone and Android, yet developers have been making games for the Xbox 360 marketplace since 2006, a year before the iPhone even existed and several years before Apps and Android appeared.