June 29, 2013
Taking It Back: Microsoft’s Folly
Recently, Microsoft got a taste of what it’s like to have the entirety of the gaming industry beating them down with their cold, crooked fingers. If you haven’t been keeping up with the news, then you don’t know that Microsoft issued a statement days ago, retracting all of the Xbox One policies that were originally planned for the console’s release. While we’ve already discussed the fact that taking back these policies will eliminate the planned family share plan, as well as a few other social features for the console’s OS. I’m still worried that Xbox fans aren’t out of the woods yet.
The vocal minority that argues for Microsoft’s original policies say that they’ve lost incentive to trust a company that would so easily change a business plan because of the lack of consumer demand. Exactly how easy did Microsoft give up? Nearly six months of bad press and biased console articles are what drove the Internet to pick such a bone with Microsoft’s Xbone. Now, the Xbox One is about as generic and boring as the PS4; no integration for social features or plans to truly make the console physically different from its competitors.
A games console that pushes 1080p and 60 fps game-play, and you’re worried that Kinect 2.0 is spying on you? The complaints will never stop for some of us.
For others that continuously show commitment and support to video games, I salute you. But for the many others such as Microsoft whom struggle with acceptance, I’m having trouble understanding how the Xbox can remain relevant in the coming years.
Last Monday’s E3 showed me that it might be possible that Microsoft’s culture could be secure again with the change of focus now going to great game support. Games like Project Spark, Titanfall (now including the PC platform) Halo, and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood all showed Microsoft in a new positive light that gave hope for a company that’s prided itself on its competition. Of course this means nothing next to the policies issued for the Xbox One.
They were horrendous.
It’s not a matter of whether or not we need an always online DRM or a family share plan for loved ones and friends, but rather the way that they were introduced to the general public. For example, a better way to innovate the used games policy into the Xbox’s interface would involve gauging a gamer’s social circle much differently. Not all of us utilize borrowed games from our friends.
But, that leaves the question of how I would advise a share plan. Ultimately, I would scrap the limitations of sending to just 10 friends/family members because of the lack of concern that gamers have. Sure, used games will make it more difficult for publishers to ring out a profit from game releases, which complicates public relations between publishers and gamers that much more difficult. Perhaps removing the game’s online achievements would be an interesting way to provide that exclusivity to the game owners?
It’s your money, your game, and so it is also your authority that you may do so whatever you please with the product that you buy. But should the publishers lose money on the basis that your friend simply can’t afford to buy their own copy?
I know, I know, “If it wasn’t for used games, game developers would never get any popularity from their creations” Well, I’m not entirely sure if that’s true. While yes, the ethics of freedom with used games seem like the right idea, they’re not the same as owning a PC or a car. These are digital pieces of media that digital artists spent hundreds of hours crafting for your enjoyment. If the software were like a tool, such as Adobe, then we’d have no place to argue the ethics of used games.
But it would be the same as owning a new CD or Blue-Ray movie; you are not allowed to copy, borrow or distribute copies of the said product on your own terms. For an industry known for being pretty open with its wide demographic meter, gamers seem to look past these things a lot.
Image Credit: Arcady / Shutterstock