Xbox and Sony are saying goodbye to their multimedia aspirations


Microsoft baffled the gaming community when unveiling the Xbox One. Rather than focusing entirely on video games, the company marketed the console as an “entertainment console.” Microsoft meant for the Xbox One to become an essential living room machine, and fans collectively scoffed. Meanwhile, PlayStation focused on being a gaming console. They offered rental services and streaming apps, but that was as far as they ventured into the multimedia realm.

Now, fans can rejoice! Microsoft is shutting down the Xbox TV OneGuide Listings in May. This old flagship feature used HDMI passthrough to include cable access so gamers could connect their console to their cable boxes. With an added TV tuner adapter, players also received free-to-air tv channels. 

Xbox Multimedia Approach

Microsoft created OneGuide to free up living room space. Between surround sound systems, other consoles, and TV sets, we use up much precious space. Unfortunately for Microsoft, turning the Xbox into a multimedia entertainment center did not work out.

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PlayStation never dove deep into the multimedia approach

Sony did not bother adopting the “one box fits all” philosophy. They released the PS4 without aspirations to take over the living room instead of taking the usual route to provide non-gaming content. They, like Xbox, support various entertainment apps that have become a staple over the years. However, Sony did make some odd choices when it came to multimedia.

PlayStation Multimedia approach

The Playstation 4 was initially unable to playback audio CDs. Also, the PS3 could stream video, music, and photos from connected servers or PCs. The PS4 lacked this aspect. So, rather than try to improve on their multimedia offerings, Sony took a few steps back.

For the next generation, Sony is discontinuing their movie and TV rental/purchase service. This is what they had to say in their official blog

“At SIE, we strive to provide the best entertainment experience for PlayStation fans, and that means evolving our offerings as customer needs change. We’ve seen tremendous growth from PlayStation fans using subscription-based and ad-based entertainment streaming services on our consoles. With this shift in customer behavior, we have decided to no longer offer movie and TV purchases and rentals through PlayStation Store as of August 31, 2021.”

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What about my purchases?

What happens to all those movies and shows we already bought? We still have access to all of them.

Why I’m highlighting the end of the multimedia era?

Trying to turn a video game console into a multimedia device is a bold move. It makes sense on paper, but not for consumers. Gamers want to game, and we often have other devices/services to satisfy our non-gaming needs. When it comes to an Xbox or Playstation system, the companies know their fans are eager for the games. So, it’s no surprise that we quirked a brow at the reveal of Xbox OneGuide.

I don’t blame Microsoft for trying. Imagine if it did work? Families would pick up an Xbox console for convenience, taking care of their gamers while offering another way to watch television. It’s not feasible to suddenly market a gaming system for another purpose. They had a vision, and the execution wasn’t ideal. Sony made the smart play and stuck with video games.

Now, Microsoft can focus on the race to true next-gen, but that’s another subject for another time.

Are you happy to see the non-gaming side of Xbox and Playstation lose traction?