UFC fighter Rashad Evans has an unorthodox training technique. He takes off his gloves, puts down the pads and walks over to the nearest mirror. He looks at himself dead in the eye and he says "I don't give a f*ck". Then he says it again. And again. And again. He keeps saying it until he actually believes it, until he no longer has any f*cks to give.
There's a power that comes from giving zero f*cks. For Rashad it means ignoring the distractions that come with being in the public eye, the negativity, the pressure, the loneliness that comes with fighting another human being in a cage. Letting go of the things he can't control allows him to fight with more freedom. It's transformative. It allows Rashad to fight his own fight.
Which is really just a long-winded way of saying: I think Microsoft needs to give less f*cks.
The Vision Thing
After spiel upon spiel about how integral Kinect was to its all-in-one media monstrosity that will consume our living rooms and, indeed, our lives, Microsoft has now announced that Kinect on the Xbox One will no longer be mandatory.
As a solitary statement of fact this is fine but, in context, it's the end result of a series of backflips that make Microsoft look very much like a ship without a rudder. Or, indeed, a Captain. First Xbox One was the always-online centre of your living room. Then it wasn't. Then Kinect was the key that made your living room a throbbing, vibrating world of 'accessible' motion control. Then it sorta was, but only if that's what you want and you still have to pay extra for it, even if it's not what you want.
So, some seriously mixed messaging.
But first, allow me to provide a list of things I am not saying...
- I'm not saying Microsoft shouldn't listen to consumer feedback. It should. - I'm not saying the ability to turn off Kinect is necessarily a bad idea. It isn't. - I'm not saying that always-on is an ideal solution to piracy. It isn't.
Now allow me to provide a list of the thing I am saying.
- If Microsoft had more confidence in its own ideas for the Xbox One, we'd all be more inclined to buy into it. - If Microsoft had done more realistic market research before announcing the Xbox One, everything might feel a little more cohesive. - The Xbox One needs to somehow redefine itself as a console with vision.
And allow me to reiterate. It should give less f*cks.
Consider The Homer
When Rashad Evans was busy swearing at himself in the mirror he clearly understood one thing: no matter what he did, no matter how he fought or prepared himself, people would have something to say about it. That 'something' may be positive, it may also be negative. Sometimes you have to let go of the reactions and give less f*cks. You have to be confident in yourself and push forward.
Microsoft is now in the process of learning a harsh truth of the internet age: no matter what you do, no matter what decision you make — regardless of the direction you head towards — there will be a group of people who disagree vehemently with your decisions.
Giving less f*cks is essential. You must be flexible enough to make the changes that must be made, but those changes must be made for the benefit of your product. They should be made at the behest of your overall vision for that product. These are the kind of decisions that can only be made when you can coolly evaluate the responses and — crucially — you have a tested faith in the product you are attempting to sell. Maybe this was always the problem — Microsoft came to the party underprepared, with a machine it didn't know how to sell. It had no faith in the Xbox One itself and maybe those cracks are now beginning to show.
But above all consider The Homer. When The Simpsons came to visit Homer's long lost brother Herbert Powell, they discovered a motor magnate in rapid decline. Sales were down; people were no longer interested in the automobiles Powell Motors was producing. In desperation Herb turned to Homer, the average American. Build me a car, he said, that the average American will love.
The end result? 'The Homer', a bloated car without vision, burdened with last-minute additions that made no sense: the modern-day representation of Henry Ford's faster, weirder horse. I'm not saying that Microsoft is anywhere close to that level of lunacy with the Xbox One, but it must watch carefully: it isn't too many steps removed from adding gigantic cup holders, shag carpeting and three horns that play 'La Cucaracha'.