Xbox Fanfest

A Special Bond: The Unique Relationship Between Xbox and its Community

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In any business or industry, most interactions between the companies and customers are pretty cut and dry. In most cases, the extent of the relationship is simply an exchange of products or services for monetary value. The gaming industry is a bit of a different case. Most companies do have more interaction with their communities. But the Big Three (Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox) show varying levels of community interaction.

Nintendo is generally pretty old-school in their approach to events, interactions, and community outreach. This works perfectly fine for them, as they have been at the forefront of gaming since the ’80s. PlayStation takes a moderate approach, having community interaction and outreach, but at a fairly reserved level. However, Xbox operates on a very different wavelength regarding the community. For this piece, I’ll focus on a discussion of Xbox and the unique relationship with its community.

Xbox Community Involvement

Xbox is ALL IN on community outreach. They put the player first when it comes to involvement, listening to feedback, and everything else they do. High-ranking execs from major companies don’t generally hang out regularly with folks from the community. But Xbox is wired differently and makes it a core tenant of who they are.

You’ll often find Aaron Greenberg and Major Nelson getting coffee and beer with fans during E3. Phil Spencer regularly squads up with folks on Xbox Live for Destiny 2 play sessions. Additionally, various Xbox execs hop on podcasts from the Xbox community. These are just a few common examples of how Team Xbox interacts with its community.

While these are obviously good moves from a Public Relations standpoint, I don’t believe that is the entire focus. To the Xbox leadership, they themselves are just as much a part of the community as other gamers. Building relationships, establishing a flourishing community, and enabling success are critical to the Xbox brand.

Player-First Technology

Accessibility and compatibility are other key tenants of the Xbox brand which go above and beyond the competition. Xbox engineers created a controller that enables players with disabilities to fully enjoy gaming. This is a massive achievement in the industry and one which they’ve shared with other platforms.

The Backwards Compatibility Team has made three generations of games, (OG, 360, One), compatible on current consoles, (Series S/X). In fact, these legacy games perform at levels far greater than what was possible on their original hardware. Controllers and accessories from the Xbox One generation are forward compatible with Xbox Series X/S. These are all player-focused initiatives that clearly embody Xbox’s DNA.

Listening to Feedback

The disastrous launch of the Xbox One was a wake-up call for Team Xbox. With the change of leadership to Phil Spencer, Xbox made enormous strides in prioritizing community feedback. Some of the fan feedback resulted in initiating the Xbox Backwards Compatibility Program. Additionally, Xbox promised to improve the quality of first-party game development. The recent studio acquisitions suggest that Xbox aims to deliver on this promise.

Another aspect is being willing to admit when they misstep, and correcting mistakes. The brief decision to double the price of Xbox Live Gold was resoundingly met with scathing criticism. The idea came off to many as tone-deaf and greedy, especially during a pandemic.

To their credit, Xbox quickly took the feedback to heart. They reversed the decision and announced the removal of the barrier for online free-to-play games. Most companies would not be as quick to admit their mistake and to completely rectify the situation. Obviously, businesses need to make money, but community relationship is paramount to success. Xbox has demonstrated that it fully understands and embraces that fact.

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