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Why would Microsoft's upcoming CEO want to kill Xbox?

It's practically Xbox One Eve--yet behind the scenes, the well-established console brand seems to be going through some transition pains. CVG News reports that, in his final shareholder address as Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer had to defend the Xbox as a valuable arm of the tech giant. Ballmer called the Xbox brand a "reflection of what is possible when a company, our company, is unified under a common vision." But wait--who's saying that the Xbox should be cut loose, just as it's hitting its next-gen stride? Why, none other than ex-Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, the forerunner to be Ballmer's replacement at the head of Microsoft.

Even though the Xbox 360 is one of the most widely popular consoles ever, and even though people are clamoring to pick up their Xbox One this Friday, Elop might see the brand as little more than an unprofitable department. According to Bloomberg's inside sources, Elop "would also consider selling healthy businesses such as the Xbox game console if he determined they weren’t critical to the company’s strategy." And Elop isn't wrong: Market analysts like Rick Sherlund claim that Microsoft's entertainment branches, Xbox included, are losing billions. But amputating the Xbox limb now seems incredibly short-sighted.

To gamers, Microsoft sits alongside Sony and Nintendo as part of the almighty Big Three, the giant corporations who determine the macro-level future of our favorite industry. And even though the Xbox isn't exactly printing money for Microsoft, throwing the brand to the wind would squander so much of that built-up reputation. Companies would kill to gain the foothold that the Xbox has attained--just look at Valve, with its SteamOS push to get even a fraction of the living room space typically occupied by an Xbox.

With two generations of experience under its belt, Microsoft shouldn't give up on the Xbox brand--they should rally behind it. Microsoft isn't the monopoly it once was when it comes to computers; why not spend less time alienating people with Windows 8, and more time catering to your gigantic, relatively new audience of console gamers? Kinect's debut stumbled, but Kinect 2.0 (look away now, pessimists) could very well change the way we consume entertainment. Why kill a fledgling piece of visionary technology before it realizes its full potential?

The Xbox wouldn't flat-out die if it was sold off, but without a mega-corporation like Microsoft backing it, I'm not sure it would fare so well. Like tossing a crying baby off a cliff, it seems foolish to terminate something with so much potential just because it's currently annoying you with constant financial loss. Yes, companies ultimately make video game consoles to turn a profit--but it'd be like Nintendo or Sony giving up the ghost. It just wouldn't feel right.

Oh, and Elop, if you're reading this--you should go ahead and kill the Bing brand if you want. Absolutely no one will miss it.

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44 comments

  • StrayGator - November 21, 2013 3:50 a.m.

    A headline obviously phrased with Zergnet in mind. Please, GR, don't go down that route. I mean, yes, companies ultimately make video game sites to turn a profit--but it just doesn't feel right.
  • GR_LucasSullivan - November 21, 2013 3:36 p.m.

    THE 20 THINGS YOU WON'T BELIEVE MICROSOFT DID THIS TIME
  • JoeMulvihill1 - November 21, 2013 1:50 a.m.

    This is old news. Someone at microsoft has even tweeted saying it's bs. this is why GR has lost it.
  • longjohndevine - November 21, 2013 1:29 a.m.

    "Yes, companies ultimately make video game consoles to turn a profit--but it'd be like Nintendo or Sony giving up the ghost. It just wouldn't feel right." NO IT'S NOT.... NINTENDO ARE PROFITABLE. Sonys game division is not.
  • BladedFalcon - November 21, 2013 8:17 a.m.

    Ah, how Ignorant you are. Sony's Playstation division is actually one of the most profitable branches of Sony, and has been for years even when their electronics division has been suffering and dragging the rest of the company down. Yes, they had loses with the PS3, but they won a shitload of money with the PS1 and PS2, and they wouldn't even be here with the PS4 if they didn't expect to make a profit again.
  • longjohndevine - November 21, 2013 8:57 a.m.

    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/191983/ Ignorant? Fuck.
  • BladedFalcon - November 21, 2013 9:02 a.m.

    Again, that was the PS3 phase in which they did lose money, I mentioned as much. The years before, the Playstation division was pretty much the part that printed money while the rest of the company was in trouble. So again, your statement that it's gaming division isn't profitable IS ignorant, and shortsighted if you're only taking into account a recent period of years. It's like me Saying Nintendo wasn't profitable overall just because of that bad phase they had during the Virtual Boy and N64 era >_>
  • Sy87 - November 21, 2013 12:37 a.m.

    Ah, I like bing. It just has that flare that I like over google. Just wish they think about their pictures more. I worry the day they put my nemesis on the page. Damn those evil spiders. I hope they aren't stupid enough to do that. Anyway. That would suck if Xbox brand were to disappear. I may not be rushing to the one due to poor customer satisfaction from this/previous generation but I do plan on getting it. Someday.
  • tuomotaivainen - November 21, 2013 2:39 p.m.

    Interesting thing about Bing... if you like Bing you might as well be searching on Google. It's been proven that Bing simply takes it's results from Google. So, I don't understand why M$ even bothers with Bing, since they're just throwing money at a piece of software that just does a google search instead of actually searching the web. Go to http://searchengineland.com/google-bing-is-cheating-copying-our-search-results-62914 for proof.
  • Sy87 - November 21, 2013 4:40 p.m.

    Somethings do come up the same, but for some of the stuff I search for come up better on bing and a bit more safer.
  • shawksta - November 20, 2013 10:10 p.m.

    Well isnt this a strange one
  • mikehoncho - November 20, 2013 9:22 p.m.

    If they really want to make more money off of Xbox stop buying things like exclusive DLC and first access to DLC. These things aren't winning the console war for them.
  • Eightboll812 - November 20, 2013 8:44 p.m.

    The interesting thing is, MS already sold off their set top box division (the one responsible for U-verse). I thought that was pretty crazy considering here they were saying they were all about TV. A marriage between U-verse and Xbox could have been a fulfillment to that vision of MS having one box in your house (starting with U-verse service then expanding to other TV providers). They could have even had the DVR all built in. But they go and sell their set top box. It shows MS is already divided on "entertainment", and why wouldn't they be? MS has a huge problem in consumer markets it doesn't already control. Zune, Windows Phone 8, .... the failures litter the wake of MS. Look at it this way. If you love Xbox, it might be the best thing to have MS sell it off. If you were displeased in any way around how the launch was handled, and worried a little about what that might mean down the road, how can you not see that it was the corporate "dominate or else" culture of the larger company interfering with the console division? I do agree that there needs to be competition. I recall absolutely hating Sony in the 80s when they had a stranglehold over portable cassette and then (to a lesser degree) CD players. I boycotted Sony products for a long time. Then they got better because they had real competition. Sony does need someone to keep them in check, FOR SURE. But lately, the console market has felt more like the lesser of two evils, rather than making a positive choice. Xbox being taken over by a company TRULY interested in gaming rather than interested in DOMINATING your living room, can do nothing but improve the market vastly. I disagree that there is no company that could sustain Xbox. There are several that I can think of. Most prominently, what about Valve? Could you imagine the Xbox owned by Valve, backed by Valve's success, offering "Steam sales", turning back on all the GOOD digital features MS came up with, leaving the over-intrusive DRM off, and announcing that Kinect was capped in terms of development? Who wouldn't be an instant fan of that? Honestly, if there was one thing that might get me re-interested in Xbone at this point, it would be it being bought by a company that wasn't famous for trying to control and monopolize every market it played in.
  • BladedFalcon - November 21, 2013 12:38 a.m.

    I don't think Valve has nearly enough money to buy the Xbox brand though... I could be wrong, of course.
  • Eightboll812 - November 21, 2013 5:12 a.m.

    I think if they wanted to, they could get the capital. All they need to do is come up with some of their own (I'm sure they have a decent bit) and convince a venture capital group they can make it work to secure the rest. It's not like if MS does in fact shop Xbox around that they will be asking for their entire investment back. They will be selling it for less than it might have originally been worth.
  • BladedFalcon - November 21, 2013 8:02 a.m.

    Of course, but still, I can think of a few companies that have way better means to acquire or outbid Valve to get the brand, such as Apple, Activision-blizzard or even EA, despite them not doing so hot right now. And all three of those would be baaaaad news if they got their hands on the brand...
  • Eightboll812 - November 21, 2013 11:10 a.m.

    I thought about Apple, but I don't see how they would possibly be interested, so didn't mention them.
  • BladedFalcon - November 21, 2013 11:43 a.m.

    They probably aren't, seeing how completely uninterested they are on making any push towards videogames, but they definitely have the means to snatch that before anyone else else could if they so wanted. Again, thinking Valve could snatch the Xbox brand is nice to think about, but I honestly see it as wishful thinking.
  • Pantera8623 - November 20, 2013 8:40 p.m.

    I think Xbox is Microsofts brightest star right now. Nothing else that theyve developed in the past decade is any good. It would be stupid to drop the xbox when it literally might be the only thing holding the company together. No it hasnt been a very profitable branch yet but if they stick to it they could turn that around with time. with such fierce competition in the market i think only nintendo has been profitable so far and its because theyve been around a long time in this business and established theyre brand early when the market was less intense.. Besides this ex-ceo of what? Nokia? oh you mean that company thats all but extinct? Is giving him the reigns really a good idea?
  • kevin-mercado - November 20, 2013 8:10 p.m.

    Those that care about bing must get things going so this toolbox is not made CEO .

Showing 1-20 of 44 comments

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