Few consoles have successfully course-corrected to the degree the Xbox One has in its first few years on the market. When Microsoft first released the Xbox One back in November 2013, it did so amid a sea of bad publicity over a string of poor decisions leading up the console’s release. The Xbox One’s image problems were the main contributing factor to the console falling far behind Sony’s PlayStation 4 in terms of popularity and market share, but it’s also true that the system itself suffered from a number of significant issues for months after its release.
Then in 2015, it was as if a light finally switched on and Microsoft started to make a number of smart decisions that not only fixed some of the Xbox One’s more glaring technical issues, but also moves that won it public favor, such as the announcement of Xbox 360 backwards compatibility at last year’s E3 press conference and a new “games first” marketing strategy. Add all this together and it’s fair to say that in 2016, the Xbox One is now a worthy contender to the PS4. Still, as good as the Xbox One is now, it’s far from perfect and still has some glaring problems that need to be addressed.
10. Achievements Mismanagement
Although they’re largely meaningless, Achievements are still an important meta-game for many Xbox players. As anyone who’s played a video game in the last decade can attest, there’s a certain joy that comes along with seeing the “Achievement Unlocked” notification pop up on the screen. While the Xbox One carried over Achievements from the Xbox 360, for whatever reason, they’re not as well integrated as they used to be. On the Xbox One, Achievements are segregated into their own separate app, which wouldn’t be an issue if the app wasn’t buried under one too many sub-menus.
In contract, on the Xbox 360, you could quickly view your Achievements list by tapping the dashboard button and finding it in one of the tabs. On Xbox One, this process is nowhere near as intuitive or quick, and things get even worse when you want to actually compare your Achievements list with a friend. Achievements are so poorly integrated into the Xbox One experience that it’s easy to forget that they’re even there, which makes the process of attaining them feel less enjoyable overall.
9. Sensitive Touch Buttons
Note: this issue only affects the original Xbox One console. The new Xbox One S replaces the touch-sensitive buttons with clickable ones, a welcome improvement.
Unlike earlier Xbox models, the Xbox One’s power and eject buttons are touch-based. There’s nothing inherently wrong with touch-based inputs (in fact, they’re a much better alternative to physical buttons, as they can deteriorate over time) but the Xbox One’s are much too sensitive. The power button in particular is a point of contention for anyone with pets or small children in their homes, as its larger size makes it an easy target for accidental (or deliberate in the case of overly-curious children) touching. There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of playing a game, only to have the whole console suddenly power off. Thankfully, new Xbox One owners won’t have to deal with this issue anymore if they opt for the Xbox One S model (and why wouldn’t they at this point) but early adopters are unfortunately stuck with their sensitive buttons until they decide to upgrade.
8. Too Many Ads
While the huge user interface update that Microsoft dropped last fall fixed many of the Xbox One dashboard’s more glaring issues and made things more pleasant to look at overall, it still has its quirks. One of the worst annoyances that still plagues the Xbox One dashboard is the large number of ads that permeate almost every tab, but especially the home screen. There’s no problem with advertising a games sale that may be happening on the Xbox Games Store (this is something most of us would want to know about, after all) but all too often, the Home and Community screens are spammed with ads for games and services — even ones you already own! Yes, ads are just a way of life with game systems that are always connected to the internet (and the irony of complaining about this on a site that relies on ad revenue is not lost on me), but you would think that a Xbox Live Gold subscription would buy you a bit of relief from advertisers. You would be wrong; as it stands, the Xbox One could stand to tone down its bombardment of ads; many of us play games to take a break from the real world, not to be marketed to while we do it.
7. Xbox 360 Controller Support
With Microsoft putting so much focus on Xbox 360 backwards compatibility over the last year or so, you would think that the ability to play Xbox 360 games on Xbox One would come with the ability to use 360 gamepads to control these games too. Alas, the Xbox One still does not support 360 controllers and frankly, that’s more than a little absurd. Yes, 360 and Xbox One controllers use different wireless technology, so it makes sense that a 360 controller can’t connect to the console wirelessly. Still, why can’t the controllers work when plugged in through USB? Some gamers still consider the 360 gamepads to be the superior controller and it seems a shame to let our 360 controllers go to waste. Admittedly, there is now a workaround available thanks to the Xbox One’s ability to stream to PCs, but this doesn’t equate to native support.
6. The Hardware Needs A Overhaul
If ever there was a console in need of a “slim” model update, it’s the Xbox One (okay, we’ll admit that the original Xbox was a much bigger eyesore). Although the Xbox One has the benefit of running at a much quieter level than early Xbox 360 models, which sounded akin to a jet engine, the console isn’t winning any awards in the looks department. It feels strange to say, but in many ways, the Xbox One is an uglier console than its predecessor, which is something you never want to say in the console space. New consoles are supposed to look cooler than what came before and while the Xbox One has a lot more going on under the hood than the Xbox 360 did, it’s still a heavy beast that isn’t very aesthetically-pleasing. Granted, the PS4 isn’t the sharpest looking console we’ve ever seen either, but at least it has some decent sight lines on it. The Xbox One is just a big black box that, while functional, isn’t attention-grabbing in anyway. If reports of an upgraded Xbox One end up bearing any fruit, hopefully it also means that Microsoft will be changing the overall look of the console too.
5. Release Controllers With Rechargeable Batteries
This is definitely more of a personal preference thing than a significant issue with the Xbox One itself, but it would be nice to see Microsoft release some of its controllers with rechargeable batteries already built-in, similar to Sony’s DualShock 4 controllers. As it stands right now, rechargeable batteries are sold separately and while it’s great that Microsoft gives consumers the choice between using disposable batteries or rechargeables, it also would be nice if they offered the choice of a gamepad with a rechargeable already built-in (yes, you can purchase packs that include a rechargeable battery, but these tend to cost more than the controllers by themselves). While it’s also true that Sony really should release some PS4 controllers that allow users to switch out batteries, Microsoft could cover all its bases by taking a page from Sony’s book and letting us not have to worry about AA batteries anymore.
4. No “Add To Library” Feature
This is a very simple fix that would go a long way in terms of managing game libraries on Xbox One. The Xbox Games with Gold program allows subscribers to download a selection of free games each month, but you might not always want to have the game on your console right away due to bandwidth caps or storage limitations. Right now, if you want one of the free games but don’t want to play it yet, you have to start the download, then head into your games library to pause the installation and delete the file. The game will still show up in your library tab, meaning that you can go back and download it anytime you wish, but this whole process could be streamlined considerably if Microsoft included a “Add to Library” feature. This is something that Sony introduced in an update for the PS4 awhile back and it’s made the process of securing your free games each month much easier than it used to be, and the Xbox One should follow suit.
3. Controller Connection Issues
One of the Xbox One’s stranger problems that doesn’t seem to get talked about enough is that controllers drop connection from time-to-time for no apparent reason. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if the controller could simply be re-synced with the console, but this is a solution that doesn’t even work sometimes. In our experience, you have to fully power down the console, unplug it, plug it back in, and then try to reconnect the controller. Whether this is caused by a problem with the Xbox One’s wireless technology or just a simple glitch, it’s an annoying problem that crops up far too frequently to be an isolated incident and needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
2. Backwards Compatibility Still Needs Work
It’s hard to deny that Microsoft’s backwards compatibility initiative has been a real boon for the Xbox One; a feature that not only allows consumers to access and enjoy their old games, but also one that the company can hold over Sony’s head as something that the PlayStation 4 lacks. While most of the Xbox 360 games that have made their way to the service play pretty much identically to how they did on the Xbox 360 (with some games even seeing performance improvements), there are some games suffer from a number of different issues. Whether it’s framerate issues in Gears of War 3 that lead to a less than ideal playing experience, or slowdown that is so bad as to make a game such as Halo: Reach practically unplayable, the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility is by no means perfect and still needs a lot of work if it’s going to convince people to trade in their 360s altogether.
1. Public Image
Of all the issues highlighted on this list, this is the one that definitely has no easy solution. While Microsoft has made significant strides in turning the Xbox One from something to be avoided into a console that can reasonably be declared a must-own, that hasn’t been enough to make the gaming public at large forget about the system’s many early controversies. It’s not unreasonable to say that Microsoft needs to avoid any more big public missteps if it wants the Xbox One to succeed, as consumers don’t easily forget bad publicity no matter how many PR coups Phil Spencer and the rest of the Xbox team have been able to pull off in the last year.
The recent issues surrounding the Windows version of Xbox-exclusive Quantum Break aren’t doing the company any favors, but if Microsoft continues to focus on its “games first” initiative, it will go a long way in improving the console’s public image. Next year’s release of the more powerful Xbox One Scorpio may also help Microsoft back into gamer’s good graces.