The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S have been out in the wild for over six months now, proving their power and quality over the course of the year. More and more games are getting native enhanced versions, showcasing the speed and capabilities of both consoles. Microsoft is also hard at work solving the games "drought," with blockbusters like Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, and Starfield right around the corner. Microsoft has heard that criticism loud and clear, and only time will solve that one. But even beyond the games, not everything is perfect and polished, though.
To commemorate the half-year anniversary of the new-gen consoles, we thought we'd celebrate by complaining! What has Xbox done for us lately after all? But seriously, the Xbox platform is far from perfect in various ways, although the team has worked diligently to offer mountains of improvements since launch.
Xbox achievement system
This is something I've written about previously, and a concern I hear often while podcasting and talking with Xbox fans from across the web is, what's going on with the Xbox achievement system?
The Xbox achievement system rewards players with points for accomplishing certain challenges, as defined by game devs, within games. Gamerscore is a reflection of your accumulated achievements, but beyond that, the system has barely seen an update. A few years ago, we got the ability to see special achievement toasts when we obtained a "rare" achievement, but the system doesn't catalog exactly how many of those you got anyway, making it a bit useless.
The achievement system has also been degraded by a flood of indie games that take advantage of the system, allocating gamerscore very easily as a means of convincing people to play.
I have a feeling that there may be some underlying legacy code or database issues preventing extensions to the system, but have yet to confirm that. Either way, it would be awesome if the achievement system could get some new features or track new stats, and many Xbox fans agree.
Xbox backward compatibility
Another big question on Xbox gamer's minds is the Xbox backward compatibility program. Last gen, Microsoft differentiated itself from the competition with the most pervasive and consumer-friendly approach to backward compatibility we've ever seen on a console. Microsoft obtained the licenses to allow the sale and re-use of existing purchases of Xbox 360 games on Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Series S, and future Xbox consoles too. Many of the games are even available on Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming as well. However, there are still many great games missing from the platform.
There are licensing issues preventing certain games from hitting the new consoles via backward compatibility, as pertains to licensing music, royalties, and other legal-type things. Despite that, many gamers (including myself) are hopeful that Microsoft will once again spin up the program, and bring more of those titles forward into the future. Max Payne please.
Xbox Game DVR, streaming, and sharing
Probably the biggest volume of complaints were inspired by the Xbox Game DVR, which allows you to record clips and take screenshots inside Xbox games for sharing. At least, that's what it's supposed to do.
The Xbox Game DVR has taken a nosedive in quality in recent years. The surprisingly decent Upload Studio app was cancelled off, rather than polished up and developed, and the actual Xbox Game DVR system itself hasn't been a particularly great replacement. Trimming clips is slow and crashy, and moving between different areas of the DVR isn't always consistent. Uploading screenshots from Xbox to a PC often creates strange washed-out images in the .JXR format if you were using HDR, which is a pain to edit and deal with.
The storage allocation for cloud clips is also incredibly small and requires extra steps if you want to use OneDrive premium cloud storage. Editing clips together also requires third-party software, which isn't always free to use on Windows or on phones either. The Windows 10 Photos app has a video editing section inside it, but it's also terrible.
There's also the issue that since the death of Mixer, streaming games or sharing clips directly from your Xbox to streaming platforms is not as easy as it once was. The vast majority of complaints seem to at least mention the Xbox DVR, even if their focus was elsewhere.
Xbox localization and global expansion
Here's another topic I've written extensively about: Xbox localization and global expansion.
Historically, Microsoft has (and remains) a very Anglo-centric company, prioritizing the American market above all else. As an American company, that's to be expected somewhat, but as a corporation worth over a trillion dollars according to shareholders, it seems a bit odd that Microsoft hasn't attempted to reach out beyond its heartlands more.
Microsoft has begun improving language visibility in its storefront, but things like Microsoft Rewards, subtitle support, and language support for many games and locales remain spotty at best. Some countries don't have the proper support infrastructure in place, if indeed they have any infrastructure at all.
There's no overnight fix for these kinds of issues, and often they're subject to geopolitical restrictions, tax situations for foreign companies, and so on. Microsoft is a massive target for litigation, too, and must tread carefully when it comes to the legal status it has in different nations. However, it's ultimately gamers who suffer at the end of the day, and it's tough to defend when the competition, namely Nintendo and Sony, often do far better in this area.
Support for Xbox from Japanese studios
This stems from localization somewhat, but another big concern from Xbox fans is the support from Japan on the console platform. The situation has been gradually improving to some degree. We've seen Octopath Traveler and Dragon Quest XI hit Xbox Game Pass. We've got Tales of Arise coming to Xbox soon. We've seen Yakuza hit the Xbox platform in a big way as well. However, Final Fantasy VII R, XVI, and XIV skipping Xbox continues to be sore point for many. Big-name franchises like Persona and classics like Legacy of Mana are also skipping over Xbox, too.
PlayStation has seen a dramatic decrease in its Japanese footprint since moving its headquarters to the U.S., with Nintendo taking all 30 most-sold game positions at retail recently. If there was ever a time for Microsoft to try to capitalize in Japan, that time is absolutely right now.
Third-party SSD storage for Xbox
Another question I often get about Xbox is, when will Microsoft expand its list of best SSDs for Xbox Series X and Series S beyond the exclusive deal it has with Seagate?
Right now, the only internal storage SSD you can get for Xbox is the expensive CFExpress Seagate Xbox SSD card. And while it's very good, and very convenient, the lack of competition is probably allowing Seagate to dictate the price at a premium.
Perhaps we'll see that exclusivity end in November 2021, giving Seagate a year of exclusivity. After that, it remains to be seen who, if anyone, steps up to offer a cheaper alternative.
Other concerns and questions
A range of other comments and questions appeared across social media and Discord, as well as my DMs about what fans hope Xbox do next. Many are hoping Microsoft looks into VR support in some way in the future. Others are hoping Quick Resume on Xbox Series S and X gets a consistency boost. The lack of support for mouse and keyboard-based games continues to be a pain point too. Some are wondering if it's possible that Xbox will ever get HDR support at 1440p in some form, while also wondering when Dolby Vision support will roll out. We still get questions about ray-tracing and shader support for Minecraft on Xbox Series X and Series S, too, after the death of the Super Duper Graphics Pack. And of course, many are wondering about the Xbox game roadmap — when are we going to see games like Hellblade II, Perfect Dark, Fable, and Avowed?
I'm more than happy with my Xbox experience, as I'm sure most others are too, but there's always room for improvement.
Personally, for the most part I'm more than happy with my Xbox experience, as I'm sure most others are too, but there's always room for improvement. I'd love to see Xbox achievements get some love, as well as the Game DVR. I desperately want to see more Japanese games on the platform as well. My biggest want of all is more rapid development on Xbox Game Pass' cloud gaming, though. More games need custom cloud-aware UI design like Hades and Minecraft Dungeons, and we need more devices like the Surface Duo which can offer a 2-in-1 experience without having to carry around additional devices to get the most out of it.
What are your biggest Xbox concerns? Hit the comments, and let us know!