Lack of a platform ecosystem, a failure to capitalize on innovative add-ons like the Kinect and a publishing protocol unfriendly to indie developers have made the last five years of Xbox development "painful to watch," former Xbox engineer Nat Brown wrote on his personal blog.
Brown, who worked at Microsoft from 1990 to 1999, wrote that he believes the company has been focusing on the console's multimedia experience when it should be more concerned with gaming.
"More and better content was always the point and the plan," Brown wrote. "My gripe is that, as usual, Microsoft has jumped its own shark and is out stomping through the weeds planning and talking about far-flung future strategies in interactive television and original programming partnerships with big dying media companies when their core product, their home town is on fire, their soldiers, their developers, are tired and deserting, and their supply-lines are broken."
Brown wrote that Xbox needs a "functional and growing platform ecosystem," similar to Apple's iOS system, that better supports small developers and the downloadable games market. Indie developers that publish to iOS and Android give up only a percentage of their revenue, whereas becoming a registered Xbox developer costs $10,000.
"Microsoft, you are idiotic to have ceded not just indie game developers but also a generation of loyal kids and teens to making games for other people's mobile devices," Brown wrote.
This issue, coupled with a "creaky, slow, and full-of-shit" Xbox Dashboard UI, are bringing Xbox development down, Brown says.
"Microsoft is living in a naive dream-world. I have heard people still there arguing that the transition of the brand from hardcore gamers to casual users and TV-uses was an intentional and crafted success," he added. "It was not. It was an accident of circumstance that Microsoft is neither leveraging nor in control of."
Polygon has reached out to Microsoft for comment and will update this story with more information as we have it.