At this point, it’s not controversial to say that Microsoft has failed with the Xbox One. It hasn’t been a colossal failure, mind you — with estimated sales of 30 to 50 million units, this isn’t a Wii U-level catastrophe we’re talking about — but when measured against its closest competitor, the PS4, and Sony’s record-breaking success with that console (75 million units sold and counting) this generation’s console race hasn’t even been close. Meanwhile, the Nintendo Switch, which was released over three years after the Xbox One, is widely expected to eventually outsell it. Of course, sales only tell one side of the story. The Xbox One’s biggest problem — and one I’d argue is more important given that Microsoft doesn’t make much money off of selling hardware — is that the console has suffered from a lack of exclusive software pretty much from day one.
While Sony has managed to make the PS4 an exclusives powerhouse thanks to a ton of top-tier first-party titles such as Uncharted 4, Horizon Zero Dawn, and God of War, Microsoft has struggled to put out must-play games that you can only get on Xbox One. In fact, thanks to Microsoft’s Play Anywhere initiative, which makes every Microsoft-produced game also available on PC, I can’t think of a single game that can only be found on Xbox One. That’s a tough sell for consumers, as they can get a superior experience without missing any Xbox games on PC, but are also more likely to opt for a PS4 given that system’s large lineup of games unavailable anywhere else.
I won’t deny that Microsoft has repeatedly shot itself in the foot this generation with the Xbox One, but I think it’s also true that Xbox head Phil Spencer and his team have made a number of significant improvements over the last five years. By scrapping the Kinect and focusing on quality-of-life updates, the Xbox One has come a long way since its disastrous 2013 launch, even if it is still the last console I’d recommend someone buy. Here are 12 things Microsoft has actually managed to get right with the Xbox One.