Once bitten, twice shy.
Repellent DRM policies; an all-seeing, ever-listening, always-on camera; an online dependent infrastructure; a short-sighted focus on region specific, multimedia functionality; a multiplayer paywall with no rewards incentive. A middle finger to gamers across the globe.
This was the Xbox One no more than three months ago. This was the next-generation machine that Microsoft had designed; the machine that Microsoft firmly believed in. Controversial policies were imposed for the good of the consumer and were intrinsically woven into the DNA of the Xbox One. It was all about giving you, the gamer, one of the best all-in-one devices on the market. A device that could do almost everything, at the cost of even the most basic of consumer rights. This was the future. This was the Xbox One.
And we hated it.
All for One. Input None.
Changes have been made. Decisions that were previously paramount to the Xbox One hardware and the console’s ecosystem have, somehow, been magically overturned. A victory for gamers, then? Or undeniable proof that Microsoft’s concept stunk something rotten right from the start? A combination of both, perhaps.It still baffles the mind as to how a multi-billion dollar company managed to cram so many bad decisions into one big, uninspiring black box. However, in the three months since the Xbox One’s tempestuous reveal, Microsoft has capitulated under the pressure of a vocal, well-informed community, backing down like the bully in the playground who has finally been confronted by their battered, beleaguered victim.
So why the fuss? Microsoft held their hands up. They admitted that they got it wrong. They apologised, so let’s just move on already!
Decisions that were previously paramount to the Xbox One hardware and the console’s ecosystem have, somehow, been magically overturned.
Except they haven’t apologised, and they’ll be no form of one in the future, either. (You know, kind of like the whole ‘red ring of death’ fiasco.)
Scour the Internet and I guarantee you won’t find one statement that specifically says sorry – in any general sense – for trying to screw everyone out of the primary colour which Microsoft so clearly loves: your money. Instead, Microsoft cleverly flipped a much-needed apology or admission of wrongdoing on its head by – get this – thanking the gaming community.
Thank you to all the gamers who passionately put the knife into the black heart of Microsoft’s distasteful policies and exposed them for what they are. Thank you to all the gamers who chose to pre-order a PS4 or picked up a Wii U and threatened Microsoft’s precious profit margins. Thank you to all the gamers who shaped Microsoft’s next-generation console after it was already finalised into something now fit for consumption. Thank you, thank you!
It’s disgusting when you realise that’s the actual honest truth behind Microsoft’s dramatic U-turn in policies. They haven’t really done consumers a favour, or purposely listened to us with attentive ears. What Microsoft have done is basically the equivalent of thanking the guy who slept with your wife for reminding you how much you love her and that you don’t want to lose her. It’s sickening PR spin at its finest. And so many gamers have fallen for it – hook, line and sinker.
Eyes Open Wide
Amid the slightly unsurprising news that Amazon UK and GAME have sold the majority of their Xbox One pre-order stock, I found it impossible to suppress a sigh of genuine disappointment. I know gamers are a notoriously fickle bunch, but are we really that easy to please? Is a free download code of FIFA 14 really all that matters deep down – regardless of anything else? Maybe it’s this exact and demoralising logic which Microsoft used as the foundation to build their house of sand in the first place.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go out and buy an Xbox One – that’s completely your prerogative and I’m well aware that there’s some promising and exciting titles available at launch for Microsoft’s new console. But please, please do not forget what Microsoft tried to do – above all else. If that means waiting a couple of weeks, months or years before you make a purchasing decision, then do it. Because there’s nothing stopping Microsoft from flipping the switch back on at any time; they’ve already stated that a digital, online ecosystem “remains a core philosophy” – a warning if there ever was one.
Living Out Of Touch
But if you won’t heed my plea for patience, reflection and general common sense, then perhaps the words of Andrew House, the president of Sony Computer Entertainment, will ring true:
“While others have shifted their message and changed their story, we were consistent in maintaining a message that is fair and in tune with consumer desires.”
Put aside any allegiances to a particular console manufacturer you may have, and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s difficult to argue with the above statement.
Unfortunately, though, it seems that Andrew’s message has already fallen on deaf ears with some sectors of the gaming community. The day-one, downloadable patch that effectively washes away Microsoft’s previous sins will be much harder to ignore, however.
To all the Xbox One Day One customers, I hope it’s worth it. I really, really do.