Microsoft employees have gone on to say it after all the bad press regarding their next game console’s policies and I’ll say it myself, I think it comes down to people misunderstanding the policies where all the hate stems from. People reacted about as warmly to that statement as one would expect; the statement was essentially misinterpreted as Microsoft calling consumers “stupid,” that’s not really the case. What they’re saying is people made immediate and biased assumptions about the system’s policies and this perpetuated ignorance and hatred for the system. Paranoia and unwillingness to change have, ultimately, had a negative impact on the future of gaming.
Microsoft was all sorts of elusive when confirming anything regarding Xbox One’s used game/always on policies. This wasn’t really a good move for the software giant, but understandable given the huge amount of backlash received after they made any confirmations. With some things cleared up, Microsoft went on to show off some astounding games at this year’s E3–which I thought gave the system the upper hand. Sony showed off some great games, too, but not a whole lot new, and not nearly the number of exclusives that Microsoft had. To win E3, Sony went for the throat and proudly undercut the Xbox One’s price by $100 and proclaimed that there will be no used game restrictions or always on policy. The audience erupted and immediately declared Sony the winner.
From there, the internet and her high-class citizens went on about damning the Xbox One and its restrictiveness. The assumption that gamers wouldn’t be able to buy, sell, trade, or lend used games was a major misconception in destroying the Xbox One’s reputation. The necessity to connect your system to the internet daily was another point counted against the system. The rampant disregard to purpose behind those systems is what screwed us all in the end.
I made my decision to pre-order the Xbox One immediately after E3. Why? Primarily because of the games. Beyond that? I knew what Microsoft’s policies meant. I highlight all of that wonderful stuff in my now outdated article on why I pre-ordered an Xbox One. I liked the idea of a game being linked to my account so I can play it without a disc. Why? Because it meant that no matter where I was or whether or not I had the game disc with me, I could download the game on any Xbox One and enjoy the game I purchased. The license granted to me from purchasing a game on Xbox One was good beyond the game disc, I had access to the game on Games on Demand and could continue enjoying the game even if I didn’t have access to the game disc. Pretty wonderful idea, if you ask me. I loved the family sharing plan. The fact that I could grant access to my entire gaming library to 10 of my Xbox Live friends was awesome. Rather than having to be local to lend games, I could give full access of my games to friends of mine out of state. Borrowing and lending games would be better than ever before because it wasn’t grounded strictly in real-world media.
I’m still a traditionalist–I love physical media. I’ve got a huge collection of games spanning 15 or so game consoles and they’re some of my most prized possessions. Gaming is a huge part of me and that tangible media is an important part of that–I love to collect. Having the option to enjoy owning and collecting the physical media while maintaining access to my games in the digital world is pretty awesome. Being able to borrow and lend games online is pretty awesome. The fact that our world is pretty much always online just makes me wonder, why on earth were we all afraid of the Xbox One? The DRM? The DRM incorporated in the Xbox One was simply to check to make sure that the game was attached to your account or you had legitimate borrowing access. That’s not a bad thing and it is, in no way, restrictive to what you can do with your game. Microsoft confirmed that used games and borrowing would continue without issue as they do now–the main difference is that third-party publishers would have the capability to earn money back on game resells if they so chose.
With all of that, the gaming community still complained. Harassing comments wherever they could be posted and ensuring Microsoft know that you’d much rather have the PS4 than the Xbox One because of its “less restrictive” approach to gaming. Your dollars spoke and, Microsoft being a business, had to react. Making money is pretty important for a corporation, so they have to make sure you’re willing to give it to them. Microsoft retracted their online spot check and DRM policies for you, but also for them. Why? Because you hated everything the system promised, so they had to make it more like the system you wanted to prevent the investment from being a total loss. Win.
I’m not trying to say any one system is better than the other. I have no doubt that I will own a PS4 before too long, but what I saw of the Xbox One made it my platform of choice at launch. It is frustrating, to me, that some of the reasons I chose the platform are being taken away from me. I made an investment in the system and now I’m losing the functionality I was so looking forward to. I’ll still have the games, sure, and that was, ultimately, the top reason I selected Xbox One as my Holiday 2013 launch system, but it is saddening that I’ll have to give up some of the system’s most promising features because of you.
The removal of these policies may seem like a big win for the gaming community, but we’ve really just put a halt on some groundbreaking features. Digital borrowing/trading was a huge win for us, but we didn’t want that. Switching games without switching discs was a huge win for us, but we didn’t want that. Access to our entire gaming library no matter where we are was a huge win for us, but we didn’t want that. It may have seemed like all these policies were put in place to restrict us, but they really promised a pretty bright future for gaming, but we didn’t want that. The next gaming generation could have been a huge leap forward, but, after eight years, we only wanted a small step. So, let’s celebrate because we won the battle. So, why then, does it feel like we’ve lost?