There is a very strange phenomenon that occasionally happens to the market leaders in the video game industry just around the time that they are announcing their next-gen console. For whatever reason, they seem to get extremely full of themselves and their executives start saying the dumbest things to their prospective consumers. With Microsoft’s extremely lacking Xbox One debut behind them, this phenomenon has now apparently taken hold in the halls of Microsoft’s executive offices.
Now, it is important to note that Microsoft was not the overall market leader this generation — like it or not, that would be the Wii — but their recent stranglehold in the North American market over the last couple of years has clearly clouded the good judgement of Don Mattrick, Microsoft’s Head of Interactive Entertainment Business. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mattrick had this to say about the Xbox One’s lack of backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 and XBLA games:
“If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards.”
To back up his statement Mattrick pointed out that “only 5% of customers play older games on a new video game system,” so Microsoft does not consider it worth the time and money to develop the technology to make that happen. Citing the social media firm Fizziology, WSJ believes the numbers are a bit higher at 12%.
While Mattrick is speaking about completely different issues, his statement brings to mind Sony’s infamous PlayStation 3 launch claims that rumble was a “last-gen” feature, and that people would want to “work more hours” to afford the $600 console. It wasn’t long before Sony was choking on those claims, and if things keep going the way they are, it might not be too much longer before Microsoft does the same.
Xbox 360 consumers have been buying retail and XBLA games for the last eight years, and I’d be willing to bet that a decent number of them would prefer those collections move over to the Xbox One. We will see how much this statement hurts Microsoft in the long run, but I think we can all agree that it is something that should not have been said in the first place.