Power of the Masses

Anyone watching the aftermath of E3 will probably agree that it did not exactly go in Microsoft’s favour in terms of public opinion. I for one could not understand why: with a slew of exclusive titles the Xbox One was on equal or better footing than the PS4. This was not what most took away from E3 (not the most vocal commenters anyway). The contents of Sony’s presentation were what caused the stir, with a short segment dedicated to essentially mocking the Xbox One’s controversial features gaining a standing ovation (the trailer summarising this basic message is below)

I for one feel pretty sorry for the Xbox One team (let’s be honest, it’s not really Microsoft proper that runs the console division), with Sony doing an incredibly vague “reveal” early on, the Xbox One surely thought that they had the console war in the bag. So soon after Xbox One did their own reveal, showing the console off in all its glory, thinking that they had the superior console. What happened next you all know. What I found interesting was how a plan that in theory should have worked really well, backfired so much. With strict anti-sharing measures the Xbox One gains favour with the all important publishers, but with it being up to the publishers to enforce them, Microsoft remains the good-guy in the public eye. Partnering with EA puts them in cahoots with the most powerful games developer / publisher in the world, a good position to be in. Needless to say, this is not how it came across. You only need to take a look at Xbox’s facebook page to see the page and pages of comments consisting of a pair of middle fingers saying “sony wins”. It was genuinely difficult to get a screenshot as the comments are being deleted regularly (names erased to protect the stupid)

Sony wins

Although this does annoy me as a pretty immature response, you can’t allow yourself to get wound up by the internet, that’s just sad. Plus Sony deserves infinite credit for playing to public opinion so well, I’m a massive Sony fan outside of the gaming industry and would always pick them over their competitors (including Microsoft), so I definitely don’t resent Sony for their success. I honestly thought that Sony had won this one outright until I saw the news this morning:

“Last week at E3, the excitement, creativity and future of our industry was on display for a global audience.

For us, the future comes in the form of Xbox One, a system designed to be the best place to play games this year and for many years to come. As is our heritage with Xbox, we designed a system that could take full advantage of advances in technology in order to deliver a breakthrough in game play and entertainment. We imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing, and new ways to try and buy games. We believe in the benefits of a connected, digital future. 

Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One. 

You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.

So, today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. Here is what that means:

  • An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
  • Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.

In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console — there will be no regional restrictions. 

These changes will impact some of the scenarios we previously announced for Xbox One. The sharing of games will work as it does today, you will simply share the disc. Downloaded titles cannot be shared or resold. Also, similar to today, playing disc based games will require that the disc be in the tray. 

We appreciate your passion, support and willingness to challenge the assumptions of digital licensing and connectivity. While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content. We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds.

Thank you again for your candid feedback. Our team remains committed to listening, taking feedback and delivering a great product for you later this year.”

[Source: Don Mattrick, head of interactive entertainment business, http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/update)

Microsoft caved to public opinion. All controversial features removed, demolishing Sony’s competitive advantage but also showing that Microsoft can listen when it upsets its fans to such a great extent. I have to admit, in a small way I am disappointed that they caved in. Although this does make it a better console, no question, it proves public opinion can bring even the most powerful companies to their knees. This is of course a good thing in most situations, however I do feel that this is a case of ignorance winning out against progress. Things will have to change some day in the games industry, I won’t like it and most gamer’s won’t either, but it will be necessary and this announcement is the most sensible step in the wrong direction I’ve ever seen.



2 responses to “Power of the Masses

  1. Totally agree, and I’m personally disappointed by the changes. The saddest part is that most of the people whining had no intention of buying an Xbox One no matter what the policies were – they were just PS4 fanboys joining in the “our console is better than yours war”.

    And now that they don’t have used games to throw around, they’ve quickly latched onto the higher price and the fact the Kinect is spying on you to continue the battle.

    The MS policies had a lot of good in them. I don’t think people have realised yet that this backtracking means we will lose a lot of the awesome features talked about at E3.

    My opinion is a bit more detailed here if anyone’s interested: http://dtiapril.com/microsoft-drm-policies-reversed

    • It’s always reassuring to know that you’re not the only one when the “controversial” things like this happen. I thought that either I or the world had gone mad. Probably still a little bit from column A and a little bit from column B.

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