Last week Microsoft did something that was pretty expected, but equally as infuriating. Ever since the announcement of the Xbox One potential purchasers have been screaming left and right about the console’s restrictions on things like used games and the requirement that the user has to log in to Xbox Live at least once every 24 hours. Well last week that all changed as Microsoft announced that all of those features were to be dropped in exchange for a more ordinary and mundane system (ironically this will be patched through a download from Xbox Live).
Personally I was looking forward to the move to an ‘always connected’ box. I personally believe that the benefits outweigh the negatives. Things like family sharing where you can share entire games with other people when you’re not playing them directly over the web, the ability to ‘trade in’ digital copies of games and the promise that developers could continually enhance their titles post-launch knowing everyone would receive the update were what the true next-gen experience would be about. Well that’s all gone now.
And yes, it hasn’t avoided my attention that I’m a PS gamer (I even own a Vita) who will undoubtedly buy a PS4 and not go anywhere near the Xbox One purely down to continuity and price, but if Microsoft had stuck to their guns they could have dragged Sony along with them. Sony’s new approach to purchasing games from the PSN (by new approach I mean having a store that actually works) would be even more enticing if you could sell back the games you were done with. And don’t think that Sony aren’t interested in limiting your purchases with DRM. If a publisher wants to put a ‘game pass’ (like the online pass many currently use) to limit the entire game if bought preowned they’re more than able to do that.
The big problem Microsoft had was their message. The way they announced their new box was appalling if you lived anywhere outside the US and if you weren’t interested in American Football or watching TV. They also completely fudged their messaging afterwards with spokespeople for the company all saying differing things about the console when asked by the press. The whole thing was a mess.
This ultimately leaves us with two next-gen devices (the Wii U isn’t next gen) that don’t really move us any more forward. These could very well be the last consoles people are able to buy before everything goes in the cloud and things are streamed, so it would have been nice to have a console that weaned consumers onto the idea of an all-digital device.
It’s a shame to see that Microsoft let go of their vision for the next-gen when the real issue was that they didn’t communicate their message across well. If the console needs to be online and have Kinect attached then sell me on those things rather than just caving in. On the other hand it is refreshing to see a company ‘admit its mistakes’ and listen to the market, limiting any potential damage to their brand.
Anyway, that’s my two pence worth on the subject.