I was sitting at breakfast yesterday morning with one of my favourite games journalists.
He’s a smart man and a talented writer and he faced a problem. He played some Xbox One games, and he loved them.
The problem? Apparently you can’t say anything nice about Xbox One online without invoking the wrath of the internet. An internet of fans that are angry – perhaps understandably so, perhaps not – over proposed DRM restrictions.
But sod it, here we go. Xbox One is really bloody good.
Microsoft’s PR strategy to only talk about the games at E3 has backfired. Because everyone is talking about everything but the games.
And that, if you excuse the hyperbole, is a tragedy. Because yesterday I sat down with Forza 5 and it is one of the best and most visually stunning racing games I have ever played.
Ryse? Not my sort of game, but it plays a bit like an ancient Rome version of Call of Duty and works nicely. Quantum Break? A candidate for my game of the show. Killer Instinct? Actually I’ve never liked Killer Instinct. But Project Spark looks nice so far.
I feel most sorry for the developers of these games, who are eager to talk about their new titles but are left batting away questions about online check-ins and shared game restrictions. Important questions, but not ones that are relevant to the quality of their games.
The reality is, if consoles wars are won and lost on games alone (and they often are), then Xbox One won E3.
Its line-up is stunning, arguably the strongest at the show. It is definitely a games console, despite what was suggested before the event. And any Microsoft press conference that closes with an exclusive game from the makers of Call of Duty and a new Halo tease, would usually send fans into fits of hysteria.
But Xbox didn’t win E3.
Its cloud gaming vision, although forward facing and well intentioned, has upset its core fans. And those fans have taking to the forums to express their dismay.
Maybe, as I type this, Microsoft’s top brass are in deep discussions about a new compromise for gamers. Perhaps it is busy talking to publishers. Perhaps it is busy coming up with a better PR strategy. Hopefully all three.
And if that’s the case, then they should just say so. Stop this silence. And maybe then gamers can relax a bit and discover what a lovely little machine Xbox One is shaping up to be.
And journalists will feel more confident in telling the world about the things that it does right.