What Microsoft learned from Xbox One's many mistakes

This week's best games, stories, and videos from the world of video games.

[Hi, I’m Chris Plante, and you’re reading Postgame, a weekly newsletter collecting the best games, stories, and videos in the video game community into a fun, digestible package on Sunday mornings. Learn more on the Postgame About page. Postgame is edited by Stephie Grob Plante. Want to support Postgame? Please share it with a friend! Or even better, visit my work-home at Polygon.com!]


Don Mattrick Xbox One reveal 1280

This week, I published a review of the Xbox One in its sunset.

Frankly, Xbox One may have been hobbled from the start by a nasty mix of hubris, poor timing, and a lame-duck leadership group that bailed within the first couple of years of the console’s life. And yet! In the longterm, Xbox One’s failures have positioned Microsoft to accomplish something genuinely revolutionary. How did the brand pull off a U-turn in broad daylight?

Here’s the intro to my piece:

Even the most talented creators struggle to end a trilogy. Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, the Wachowski sisters, David Fincher. By the third entry, a project is established, and the audience expects both more of the same and also that spark of newness that originally attracted them to the series.

The trilogy is a useful template for Microsoft’s video game consoles. The original Xbox introduced Microsoft to the gaming world. The Xbox 360 established the tech company as a legitimate competitor. Then, like so many trilogy endings, the Xbox One struggled to find balance between expectation and ambition.

And like a trilogy, these three consoles will be remembered not only as individuals but as a unit. The future of Xbox will take a different approach to the brand, a creative reboot of sorts of the very assumptions of how we play, buy, sell, and share our experience with video games.

To critique the Xbox One without including its predecessors would be like analyzing The Godfather Part III without mentioning The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. It would be critical negligence, ignoring the unfortunate confluence of ambition, creative freedom, critical expectations, and fan entitlement that comes with the conclusion of something that’s been a meaningful part of people’s lives — for some, from childhood into early adulthood.

The Xbox One has been a messy, disappointing, often frustrating gizmo, but it also, in hindsight, is an exciting misfire that inspired brilliant ideas across the gaming and tech worlds. And it has bridged the gap between the past and the future of the medium.

Perhaps the better comparison is Return of the Jedi, a film that had to follow a masterpiece and set up a universe that extended far beyond film. The Xbox One will be remembered for bridging the hardware era of the brand to something much bigger, less predictable, and potentially revolutionary.

And so, without further ado, my eulogy.

Read the full essay at Polygon.


Xbox Series X and S get prices and a date

Microsoft confirms $299 Xbox Series S console - The Verge
Some bonus thoughts on Series X and S:

At NoEscapeVG, Adam Clark wrote that “PC gaming doesn’t have to be expensive,” a reaction to the reveal of new graphics cards that cost upwards of $1,500.

From Clark:

If the PC gaming hivemind is to be believed, you must spend thousands of dollars and get hundreds of frames per second to have a real gaming PC. In reality, there’s a much wider world out there open to people wanting to play games on PC, and if you are interested, you can get to work building your own quality gaming PC easily, and at nearly any budget.

The same logic now applies to the next generation of video game consoles. To join the fun at previous console launches, you’d typically need to cough up at least half a grand. The Xbox Series S will cost $299 — that’s the same price as the current Xbox One, a seven-year-old piece of electronics that cost $499 in 2013.

Some folks will want the Xbox Series X and every ounce of power it has to offer. But for most folks, I think the Series S will suffice.


Tony Hawk: the GotY campaign begins

'Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2' review: a gnarly remaster bound to inspire a  new generation of skaters

Two games to play

A Monster’s Expedition

“Charm is so easily overdone or under considered, but for charm to work it has to already be there, in some way, within the material. A Monster’s Expedition has it in spades (a spade is a giant spoon, the exhibition tells me by the way). It’s in the way you can stop and dangle your feet in the water, to the sound of a swelling, but still soothing little groove […]” (Chris Tapsell, Eurogamer)

A Monster’s Expedition is available on PC and Apple Arcade.

Hotshot Racing

Hotshot Racing is a slick callback to a much-loved era of racing games made by people who are clearly passionate and knowledgeable about the genre. Older players will get all the references; newcomers will enjoy a bright, exhilarating game that forgoes modern frills for pure, seamless racing entertainment.” (Keith Stuart, The Guardian)

Hotshot Racing is available on PC, Switch, and Xbox One.


Three stories to read

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Four videos to watch

Highlight Reel has a new home

Chris Person’s years-long chronicle of video game goofs and glitches has a new home on YouTube. You can support Highlight Reel on Patreon.

The “Tony Hawk for Game of the Year” campaign continues

This is probably the closest we’ll get to a Steep sequel

An extremely watchable summary of the Xbox leaks and price drops


The best of the rest

Marvel's Avengers: How old is Kamala Khan in the game? Sandra Saad steals  the show! – HITC

Ephemera

byrne and his band members perform

But what do you think?

Send links, tips, comments, questions, games, and x-bots to @plante.

That’s a wrap. See y’all next time. Wear a mask!