Last night, gamers had a reason to celebrate. Microsoft announced that they were essentially backing off on all of their restricting policies for the Xbox One. You can catch a recap of the event by watching our own Ashley Esqueda’s video surrounding the news.
The relief since then has been palpable. So have the jokes. I think I’ve heard “Xbox 180” around 382 times this morning.
A month ago, I wrote a story about my stance on the Xbox One. “Xbox One: Unless Microsoft Changes Their Policies, I’m Out.” They’ve done their part, now I’m here to explain mine. I’ll also end with a poll.
Why the change in tune?
I personally believe that Microsoft fell victim to a perfect storm of negativity. Gamers were vocally outraged on nearly every outlet within a finger’s reach. Gaming press took to writing massive editorials and features built around how poor of a choice Microsoft had made.
Then Sony decided it was time to absolutely destroy Microsoft during E3. A huge chunk of their press conference was dedicated to showing gamers that they were sticking to the old and preferable policies. Then, they took it one step further and released this amazing video.
That thing has more than 13,000,000 views since its June 10th, 2013 release.
Then the mainstream media jumped into the fray. Their big bone to pick? The online check-in requirements. One big article really caught fire, “New Xbox ‘a sin against all service members,’” and it highlights the fact that service members don’t necessarily have access to the Internet and, thus, wouldn’t be able to use their Xbox One.
Finally, one has to assume that retailers like GameStop, Best Buy, Amazon and Walmart weren’t happy with Microsoft’s used game policies. Sure, gamers would be able to trade games in at some, if not all, of these places. But Microsoft’s new system created a lot of extra legwork and potential problems for retailers. You can bet these places applied pressure as well.
All of this chest pounding and frustration forced Microsoft to make a move. They might be painting a “we listened to you gamers on Twitter” picture right now, but I have a feeling the potential hate from mainstream consumers and shops is what really did it.
Giving up on the future.
One of the only real negatives stemming out of Microsoft’s decision to redact all of their Xbox One connection and used game policies is the fact that they scrapped all of the stuff people were actually jazzed for.
Beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose, but Microsoft was genuinely doing exciting things with their stance on digital games. Loaning games to friends digitally, as flawed as the system was in terms of bureaucracy and hoops to jump through, was a really cool idea. Giving family members on different consoles access to games was pretty innovative. Playing games without inserting discs? Yes, laziness had a minor victory.
These were the major positives of Microsoft’s digital plan for the Xbox One. Somehow, in moving from their previous state to their current one, they decided to scrap all of the exciting features altogether.
Gamers wanted the ability to trade and sell games to anyone, and they wanted to play their consoles offline forever. Why did Microsoft have to sacrifice the truly interesting bits of their new platform in order to meet the needs of the masses? The Internet connection could have been optional. You want all of these extra sharing and convenience features? Cool, you need to stay online in order to use them.
This should have been a moment for corporate and consumer compromise. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Microsoft changed their stance on these things, but the heavy handed return feels like the kid took his ball and went home.
I’m not in, but I’m less out than I was.
The whole backbone of my initial article, “Xbox One: Unless Microsoft Changes Their Policies, I’m Out,” was that I’d be gone unless Microsoft fixed their stance. Well, they’ve fixed their stance…the only problem? I’m frustrated.
Yes, things are much better than they were, but I genuinely think Microsoft showed their true form when they announced the previous roster of “features” and then told gamers “tough cookies” when they began to storm up in anger. Like I said before, I don’t think they changed their policies for us. I think they changed their policies because they didn’t want to hinder their potential sales.
This was a business decision. Should we hate them for that? No, of course not. But, as a gamer, consumer and proponent of this medium, I can’t entirely forgive them, either. They aren’t in this for me. They are in this for the bottom line. What will make them the most possible money.
And yes, sure, Sony and Nintendo are in it for the bucks, too. All business are built to make money. But, at least they didn’t roll out policies that any gamer with an ounce of common sense would shoot down. Sony could have totally copied Microsoft’s decision and changed gaming forever. They would have gained the love of publishers the world over. They didn’t. They chose to keep things familiar and consumer friendly. That says something.
It’s going to take a killer exclusive. One game that’s so inspired and different and exclusive to the Xbox One that I’ll have no choice but to buy the console.
All that’s left is the expense.
For consumers? It’s the price difference. Some folks might have a bit of a sour taste in their mouths after all of this bad press surrounding the Xbox One, but that has plenty of time to go away between now and launch. What’s going to dictate the success of this new platform is its price.
For the average consumer walking into Best Buy this holiday season, they’ll see a PlayStation 4 with a $399 price tag next to an Xbox One with a $499 price tag. They’ll also see a Wii U with a $299-349 price tag and a whole slew of Mario games. Which one is the odd system out?
Will Microsoft be able to justify the $100 difference to folks who just want to play Madden and Call of Duty? I’m not so sure.