We tipped our caps to Microsoft as the company reversed course on some major sticking points of its Xbox One console. Don Mattrick, president of interactive entertainment business at Microsoft, laid out the changes in a blog post titled "Your Feedback Matters – Update on the Xbox One."
Giantbomb’s Patrick Klepack broke the story Wednesday before Mattrick got down to official specifics, stating that those who buy the Xbox One when it goes on sale later this year should expect to do what they currently do with their Xbox 360 games: whatever they want.
Bending to what some would say was "pressure from the masses," the company won’t force you to have an internet connection to play offline games, and One owners will only need a one-and-done connection when they’re setting up their console.
Last but not least, Microsoft won’t go forward with a used games policy that would have banned certain types of trade-ins for disc-based games. Of course, Sony made copious amounts of hay with this fact at last week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).
A new attitude?
Whether from fickle gamers or not, complaints have come in that Microsoft "caved," but isn’t this what most everyone wanted? Or at least, what the squeaky wheels in the gaming "blogosphere" clamored for? While that’s not necessarily a fair way to look at things, the fact remains that in a social media-driven world, change can be and in this case was impacted by the vocal-est of them all.
Mattrick wrote "my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback." He probably also saw that Shu Yoshida/Andy Boyes "instructional" video, but we don’t doubt his inbox has been full of venom since earlier this month.
Microsoft is doing what people literally cheered Sony for just over a week ago: offering a relatively hassle-less used game and sharing policy and giving gamers freedom from having to say howdy to the internet once a day. And while the news alone is making waves, the fact that Microsoft has appeared to listen to consumers is astounding in its own right.
The company is infamous for its cantankerous attitude towards consumer feedback, something recently witnessed with Windows 8 (It’s lame on non-touchscreens? Deal with it!) and an affectation we’re sure to see again.
The Softies’ we-know-better-than-you air actually appeared in all its haughty glory when Microsoft originally gave word on its always on and much-maligned used game policies, condensed so sharply last week when Mattrick himself told gamers that if they didn’t have a decent internet connection, they had the fortunate choice of buying a 360 instead.
It looks like the lampooning finally got to Mattrick and Co, however, as in what is a surprisingly quick turnaround from its own E3 press conference, the company is sailing its Xbox One ship in a completely different direction.
Maybe we’ll even see the new approach work its way into other parts of the company?
It may not be budging on bringing back the Start button in Windows 8.1, but at least when it comes to game consoles, Microsoft can take a hint. It bodes well for future products and features, game related or not.
Of course, we can’t ignore that there were definite monetary/sale considerations in the reversals too. Sony has already slammed Microsoft to the mat, so why wait for the holidays for its next knock out?
Damned if we do, damned if we don’t?
In giving the gaming world what it seemingly wanted, Microsoft had to sacrifice a few things it promised would be doable with the Xbox One’s old ways.
Without 24-hour check ins, users won’t have the ability to access their game library from anywhere in the world nor have a "family" of up to 10 members log in and play a title bought by an individual.
These losses are just that for those who looked forward to them, and we wouldn’t be surprised if even more "scenarios we previously announced" are retracted in the days to come.
For better or worse, the detractors won out in the end, if this is indeed the end.
The chances we would have heard about these policy changes sometime between now and November are high, but, as much for its own good as the good of the gamers who wanted to hear a different tune, Microsoft decided now was the time to nip the backlash in the bud.
Though who knows, perhaps the crowd lamenting the loss of game library access will get their own set of concessions. Microsoft seems to be in a changing mood these days.