Xbox One Community Unites to Spur UI Improvements

Baffling omissions and the disappearance of beloved features have upset Xbox gamers, but it looks like they're persuading Microsoft to listen.

It's been a good few weeks since the Xbox One has been let out of its cage, and from all accounts, it's doing well. Thankfully it has not been anywhere near the disaster that some feared it might be.

There have been some major issues such as the "Green Screen of Death" and disc drives with a insatiable appetite for new games. But console launches have always been like this, and the competition, Sony's PlayStation 4, has had its own share of problems launching too.

But although the sales have been good, the UI is now under fire from gamers over baffling interface choices and the disappearance of much loved features that fans cherished on the Xbox 360. The solution? Moaning and putting together a list of issues to petition Microsoft directly with. And it looks like this movement might actually be succesful.

If It Ain't Broke, Fix It Anyway

The biggest gripe about the Xbox One interface is it's similarity to Windows 8. But as well as being as unloved as the loathed OS interface, what's worse is that the cumbersome and clunky UI is replacing some of the very succesful features the Xbox 360 had.

The Guide feature that made navigating the Xbox 360 menu easy and intuitive, and it's something the players want back. The layout makes things that were once quick to find now a mystery and/or a chore to locate, having to now go back to the Home Screen every time you want to load an app and navigate through sub-menus from there. The only alternative is to "snap" them to you screen using the Kinect's voice commands, but unfortunately this doesn't work for all apps and features. For example, the Guide used to make things like loading and navigating players' Friends List a breeze at the click of a button. Now finding out who's online is a labour of love.

Other issues include some inexplicable decisions, such as no way to see the battery life of your controller, inability to turn off all notifications, and no way to see your remaining hard disk space: you have no idea if you've got enough space to install a game until it refuses to install. Things like this just seem like common sense approaches, and its a wonder why throwing these out with the bath water was ever a viable decision.

Are You Talkin' To Me?

For all the awards and praise for the technology behind the Kinect, it's still causing controversy. Namely, players don't realise that the default for the microphone is "on". Therefore, multiplayer gamers are finding themselves unwittingly broadcasting private conversations to the rest of their peers. Similar issues occur when snapping Skype whilst playing a game, with other gamers now being able to eavesdrop on your calls.

Furthermore, Kinect voice commands are criticised for being too narrow in scope, and too strict. You have to say the full name of the game i.e. "Forza Motorsport 5" to run the game. You absolutely cannot get away with "Forza" or "Forza 5". To make matters worse, the shallow/lack of voice learning on the system is also causing gamers with funny accents trouble too: all things we pointed out that could be potential issues.

There are loads of other more pernickety things and suggestions on how to make things better suggested by players. For a full list, visit http://xboxfeedback.com.

Xbox Gamers 1, Mircosoft 0
"It looks like fixes, reinstatement of missed features, and some general improvements may well be on the horizon. But for now, Xbox players are just have to grin and bear things until they get fixed, and sit there wondering, "Who's bloody stupid idea was all this, anyway!?""

However, the community have gone about collating all the woes and turmoil gamers have been having and using this list to petition Microsoft to make some changes, and it looks like this might work. On Reddit today, Microsoft social media guru, majornelson, announced that:

"I had a meeting today about much of this and I can say that things will get better. I can't offer a timeline of a list of what till be addressed first, but we are aware of the issue and things will get better."

It's great to see Microsoft accept responsibility and are looking to actually address the issues rather than ignoring them. But given the fallout from the PR disaster in the run up to launch, they probably don't have much choice but to seeing as their customer relations has already taken more than a significant beating.

So it looks like fixes, reinstatement of missed features, and some general improvements may well be on the horizon. But for now, Xbox players are just have to grin and bear things until they get fixed, and sit there wondering, "Who's bloody stupid idea was all this, anyway!?"

Published Dec. 4th 2013
View Comments
  • GabrielKross
    Featured Columnist
    Now that you mention it, I do like the 360 UI better. It's mostly the achievment and friendlist sections that frustrate me.

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