Nat Brown was a founder of the original xBox project at Microsoft and he was the one who gave it its name. The famous console wouldn’t have been released hadn’t it been for his “painful, pointless, and idiotic internal cage-match” to convince his corporate overlords all the way to Bill Gates himself. All in all, Nat Brown feels that Xbox is his 14 years old love child.
Despite that, or perhaps because of that, Brown is saddened by the direction Xbox is and has been taking for the last few years.
"The past 5 years, and the last year in particular, have been simply painful to watch," he admitted on his ILike.Code blog. Coasting on past momentum. Failing to innovate and failing to capitalize on innovations like Kinect. Touting strategic and market success when you’re just experiencing your competitor’s stumbling failure (yes, Sony, Nintendo – you are, I’m afraid, stumbling failures). A complete lack of tactical versus strategic understanding of the long game of the living room."
"My gripe, my head-smack, is not that the broader content/entertainment business isn’t where you want to go with a living-room-connected device. It absolutely is," he explained. "My gripe is that, as usual, Microsoft has jumped its own shark and is out stomping through the weeds planning and talking about far-flung future strategies in interactive television and original programming partnerships with big dying media companies when their core product, their home town is on fire, their soldiers, their developers, are tired and deserting, and their supply-lines are broken."
As for user experience, Brown believes that "device OS and almost the entire user experience outside the first two levels of the dashboard are creaky, slow, and full-of-shit." He believes that console gamers shouldn’t be asked whether to save their game data on local hard drive or on the cloud – and especially not in a kids’ game. He also believes that it is frustrating to be forced to wait for 10 or more minutes to download and install updates or being forced out off Xbox LIVE.
"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. It doesn’t surprise me that most people spend more time watching videos or listening to music on xBox, because it takes too long to screw around with discs and wait for games to load."