I thought Microsoft had a pretty good E3, speaking broadly. The company's presentation - once you could tear your eyes away from Phil Spencer's pleather jacket and legs-akimbo stance - indicated unquestionably that there are plenty of good games coming to Xbox.
Certain commentators have drawn attention to the lack of VR from Microsoft as being a bad thing - in part because there was a general consensus (despite any concrete evidence to suggest as such) that Project Scorpio/Xbox One X was designed to offer some sort of VR option.
Personally, if I was in Microsoft's position, I wouldn't be pursuing VR either. The Xbox One has a much smaller installed user base than the PlayStation 4, and while PSVR has sold around a million units... those sales are, reportedly, slower than Sony would've liked. It would be too much of a risk.
Microsoft is also stating that it expects most new Xbox One owners to join the family via the cheaper Xbox One S, rather than the premium-priced X model. In short: they're trying to keep everybody happy, and offer Xboxes for both those who want top-end 4K graphics, and those working with a smaller budget.
Except... I think that's a mistake, because - man alive! - Microsoft's messaging is all over the place here.
See... here's the thing... If you're someone who wants to buy a new games console, these are your choices:
- Nintendo Switch (relatively low-powered, has Zelda, Mario on the way, portable, £279)
- PlayStation 4 (market leader, been around a bit, still lots of power, tons of games, £220-ish, can do VR if you want it)
- PlayStation 4 Pro (tons of power, tons of games, can do VR if you want it, £340-ish, plays nice on 4K tellies)
- Xbox One S (plenty of games, powerful enough, plays old Xbox games, around £200).
- Xbox One X (the most powerful games console ever if you've got a 4K TV, plays old Xbox games, £450)
Switch is doing its own dance. You either want a Switch or you don't - it isn't competing with the PlayStation or Xbox brand. You can have a Switch AND one of the other consoles, because - and here's a phrase we'll come back to - they're demonstrably different.
So it comes down to whether you want a PlayStation or an Xbox. The slightly rotten reality of this for Microsoft is that - if it was me - I'd pick a PlayStation. I certainly wouldn't fork out more than twice as much for an Xbox One X. I'm not sure how many other people would either, unless they're the hardest of the hardcore Xbox fanboys. Or because they can't quite afford a PC. Or because they need a reason to justify that 4K telly they just bought.
There are a handful of upcoming Xbox One exclusives that look pretty good - Cuphead and Sea of Thieves to name the two that I can remember - but they wouldn't be enough for me to take a punt on a system that has sold half as much as its rival machine. Certainly not as I'm already an Xbox One owner, and the machine is fundamentally fine.
Microsoft is saying that they now have an Xbox for everyone - but for those who value really high-end visuals over and above everything else... well... most of them already own a PC. Which, of course, will be getting all the same games that'll be available on the Xbox One.
Ultimately, there's this: it's hot, and I don't care what Microsoft wants to do.
At this point, I don't even care if the Xbox brand disappeared altogether. That's a massive shame, because I loved my Xbox 360. It remains in my top three consoles of all time.
The Xbox One went wrong from the off, and now we're in a position where it's virtually interchangeable with the PlayStation 4... except that the PlayStation 4 has more games and PSVR. Fact is, Xbox One - whatever letter you apply to the end of its name - is kind of irrelevant.
And here's the biggest problem with Xbox One X; all Xbox One games will run on all Xbox Ones. Some games on the X will have graphical enhancements - but not to the point that they risk affecting the gameplay or experience on the cheaper, older models, because Microsoft has insisted that's the way it must be. There will be no Xbox One X exclusives..
This means that Microsoft is constraining "the most powerful games console of all time" right out of the gate. Its wings have been clipped. Furthermore, by tying it so closely with the Xbox One brand, the message isn't that this is a bold new epoch of gaming, but... uh... well... who knows?
If I'd been Microsoft I'd have branded this as something entirely new. I wouldn't have handcuffed developers into making all Xbox One games run on all Xbox Ones. I'd have given developers permission to explore what they can really do with such apparently powerful hardware - and indicated to the world that the PlayStation 4 is the past.
That would of course be a risky strategy, given that it would potentially indicate to an estimated 26 million Xbox One owners (Microsoft no longer shares its sales figures) that their machine was also obsolete - even if Microsoft insisted otherwise.
Then there's this: find some other way to distinguish the Xbox One brand from the PlayStation 4. Because at the moment, to most people, the Xbox One - even the Xbox One X - is just PlayStation 4 without the VR and momentum.
Phil Spencer is pragmatic, saying that he expects Xbox One S to sell more than X, which is positioned as a "premium" product. Still, how is he going to woo people to Xbox One X? You don't release something without wanting people to buy it. You've got to recoup development costs at the bare minimum.
Speaking to Business Insider he says of the potential Xbox One X customer: "You ask who is that person today? I'm gonna bet a large percentage of those people have a current-generation console already. So in that world, I have to show them an experience that's demonstrably better."
Thing is, I'm not sure that Microsoft has shown an experience that's demonstrably better, because how can it be demonstrably better when the games are going to be more or less the same on all Xbox One consoles? Most of us - most regular people - won't be able to tell the difference.
I've written about video games for 25 years, and I'm confused by Microsoft's messaging. I don't really understand the difference between Xbox One X and Xbox One S - because Microsoft never ran two versions of the same game side-by-side (surely the best comparison?).
They just bombarded us with technical specifications, then said that some of the games demoed were running on the Xbox One X. I couldn't really notice a massive upscale in graphics from what we've generally seen already from the current generation.
If you ask me, Microsoft is running scared of demonstrating that demonstrable difference, because they don't want to piss off their existing customer base. They're soft-pedalling on what Xbox One X is, because they want to have their cake and eat it. It's the console hardware equivalent of slowly pulling a sticking plaster off a hairy forearm, rather than ripping it off in one swift motion.
They've quite literally - ha ha - Xboxed themselves into a corner.