Microsoft shuttering Xbox Entertainment Studios doesn’t bode well (editorial)
Over the past couple of years, original content has become a must-have for online video services. Amazon’s highly-praised Alpha House has done well, and more pilots are on the way. Netflix has been handed awards for House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Hulu is also getting increasingly further in on the action.
You get the message — content providers are moving towards original content, hitting the networks where it hurts the most. Microsoft released Xbox One with the idea of positioning the console as just as much an entertainment option as it is a gaming platform. It was a brilliant move, and one that put the company in direct competition with rivals like Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast, while providing the added features of such as titles like Titanfall.
That was the idea when the company announced it would begin producing original content. But that plan fell flat this past week as Microsoft told customers that it will be closing the entertainment studio arm of its business. Many employees are facing what will be a massive downsizing of the workforce. Cuts to certain products and areas should certainly be expected with such a far-reaching purge.
But original content is likely, at least in my own opinion (and you’re welcome to disagree — you will anyway), something the Xbox One really needed to compete in the living room going forward. Sure it can play those Netflix original shows, but what is lost by not producing its own content?
Already we are hearing rumbles about advertiser dissatisfaction with this move. And that is likely only the beginning. “Advertisers are not happy about the closure due to the fact that the shutdown happened only three months after the XBES pitched deals to major media advertisers, in an attempt to help build interest around planned scripted and documentary shows”, writes Cinema Blend, citing the Wall Street Journal as a source.
The loss will reach much further afield than Microsoft may imagine. Advertiser ire is part of it. The loss of a competing platform, and reliance on other services like Netflix, will potentially hurt much worse in the long run. For the sake of customers and competition, let us hope a revival takes place down the road somewhere.