After enduring several weeks of battering from journalists and gamers alike, Microsoft decided enough was enough, and changed two features of the forthcoming Xbox One. The question is, did it do the right thing or should it have stuck to its original strategy?
For those not into video games and therefore ignorant to what happened, here is the full story explained in the briefest terms possible…
Microsoft decided that the future of gaming was going to be digital and online. So in order to future-proof its next console, the Xbox One, it announced that the console would have to connect to the Internet at least once every 24 hours, and that there would be severe restrictions on the sale of physical games, killing the rental market and crippling the used games market. Both of these “features” went down rather badly with gamers, especially when Sony announced the PS4 and made a point of stating that it wouldn’t need to connect to the Internet once a day or have restrictions on used games. Microsoft then dug itself a deeper hole with some spectacular PR fails.
However, after listening to customer feedback, Microsoft has now done a u-turn and removed these restrictions. This means that the brave new digital future Microsoft had planned for the Xbox One is on hold, and the next-gen will work in pretty much the same way as the current-gen of Xbox 360 and PS3.
Listening to your userbase is never a bad thing, and Microsoft deserves credit for doing so on this occasion. It should be noted that it’s done the same thing with Windows 8, though it took a full year to implement the changes many people were calling for with the Windows 8.1 update.
The problem is that not everyone is happy with the new policies, with some coming out strongly in favor of the original plan. It’s a minority, but one that has been shown a glimpse of a future they liked the look of, only to have it snatched away again.
Microsoft has clearly done the right thing to assure the Xbox One wasn’t dead before launch, but it would have been better off starting from the position it has now adopted rather than flip-flopping between the two. As it is consumers will have been left dazed and confused by the messy launch.
I predict that this won’t be the last we hear of this, as the Xbox One will only ever be a firmware update away from reinstating these features. In five-years-time gamers may be much more willing to accept the constant need for a stable Internet connection, and a marketplace which values digital downloads over physical discs.