Xbox One had 75 prototypes before its final version


Microsoft launched its stellar Xbox One on November 22, 2013 in 13 countries (Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, UK, and USA). By the end of the year it had shipped 3.9 million units to retailers, selling “over 3 million” of those, against the 4.2 million PS4 units sold by Sony through December 28 (here’s a practical comparison).

However, a lot of hard work had to be done during the previous years in order to reach that milestone, involving a lot of designs and iterations. More than 75, actually.

One Xbox to rule them all

Carl Ledbetter, senior industrial design manager at Microsoft and the guy behind the Xbox One design (and the original Intellimouse!), admits it wasn’t an easy task.

There was this conundrum in that we had to meet and satisfy desires of core gamers and Xbox fans, and at same time we wanted Xbox to reach out and mean something to new people. From a design perspective, how do we make that happen? That was a big challenge.

He and his team had to create a sophisticated yet approachable gaming powerhouse, that could become the entertainment manager without overshadowing the rest of the living room. By the end of the process, they had more than 75 iterations of the console, 100 of Kinect, and more than 200 of the controller

We put a lot of time into all of the details. The overall product is really premium. It really feels designed, engineered and crafted in quality.

You can read the full interview here.


Is a multiplayer game tougher to market?

Titanfall is, without question, one of the most anticipated games of the year (it will be launched on March 11). Let’s sum up:

  • It’s a multiplayer-centric first-person shooter, a combination that has proven successful when executed smoothly.
  • It’s exclusive for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. Actually, Microsoft hopes that it becomes a system seller for Xbox One (it’s even getting its own controller).
  • It’s going to be published by Electronic Arts (the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue after Nintendo and Activision Blizzard).
  • It’s being developed by part of the original team that turned the Call of Duty franchise into a billion-dollar business.
  • It’s been receiveing extremely positive buzz from the press, winning over 75 awards after its E3 2013 reveal.
  • And last but not least, it will let players fight each other as elite assault Pilots or as HEAVILY ARMORED TITANS.

So, it’s a game that’s being created by a team more than skilled in that genre, backed by Microsoft and Electronic Arts and with enough hype to fill a stadium. Therefore, a dream came true for marketing, right?

Apparently, no.

According to producer Drew McCoy, the multiplayer nature of the game forced the team to take a different approach to get the game noticed.

It’s actually been really tough trying to accurately market Titanfall. If you look at what we’ve done, its a lot different than what most FPS games do. Without a bunch of highly scripted singleplayer moments to recam from different angles, the usual ‘movie like’ trailer is just about right out.

Although Titanfall will provide some narrative moments, the main core of the experience is to play with other people, and that’s what they’re trying to emphasize (along with driving HEAVILY ARMORED TITANS, of course). So, their current marketing strategy consists in releasing full unedited 3-5 minutes segments, showing the flow of the game.

What I find interesting about this is that, when McCoy says that they have  had problems ‘accurately’ marketing Titanfall, what he’s really saying is that, because of its multiplayer nature, they had no choice but to use actual game situations to get audience’s attention.
The marketing guys didn't get the chance to build their own Titan (?)

Marketing guys didn’t get the chance to build their own Titan (?)

And actually… that sounds like a good thing to me. There are lots of games that were marketed in a dubious way, frustrating players (because they weren’t getting what they were expecting) and creators (because their game was being advertised as something else) alike. As a matter of fact, in the only trailer they published (the one at the top of this post) there are no first-person sequences… and it’s a first-person shooter! But I’ll write later about that.

Titanfall is a hardcore game (there’s nothing casual about it) that’s being marketed to its potential hardcore audience through actual footage, even minimizing risks. Instead of showing a more controlled experience (i.e. a regular trailer, like the one they used for presenting the game), they are simply showcasing gameplay.

I understand that it may be a change from the more classic way of advertising a game like this one (and that, at some stage, an edited video can be useful for awareness) but I hope in the future more companies start to be more transparent regarding their actual products. Or, as McCoy himself admits,

There’s no amount of polished marketing that can replace playing the actual game.

Source: IGN