Microsoft reverses position on used games, online requirements

The report on Eurogamer

This is the latest in a series of decisions from Microsoft that shows a real lack of corporate resolve: Windows 8.1 and the start button, Windows Phone 8 rendering Windows Phone 7 redundant in a matter of months, Office taking 5 years to arrive on iOS, etc. If, as it appeared as recently as E3 10 days ago, they believed so strongly in their vision for the future of gaming, why not back up that vision proactively? The biggest problem for Microsoft was that they tried to have the best of both worlds without making the necessary sacrifices on their part. Restricting used game sales needed to have been accompanied by general reduction in game prices, promise of regular sales a la Steam or some other mechanism to offset what would have been permanent investment from gamers. They were going to mandate 24-hour online checks without communicating to the public any hint of contingency plans should internet access for whatever reason become unavailable, or offering some type of internet service deals to ensure connection. They were going to charge $100 more than PS4 mainly because of Kinect, which (still) needs to be connected for the games to work, but Microsoft did not explain in any detail either why this was necessary, or why Kinect was a good thing for games, instead emphasising its usefulness as a surrogate TV remote and Skype mic. 24-hour online checks and no used games were drastic changes for a console market that had been familiar with neither concept for 30 years. Their implementation required difficult choices from within and tough bargaining with various existing and potential partners, because it needed to be in conjunction with real concessions like cheaper games and internet service provider deals. Even after E3, when they faced overwhelming hostility to their plans, Microsoft could have gone to work mitigating consumer discomfort with sweeteners or genuinely informative and honest communication. It would have required very hard work in a short space of time, but if Xbox One’s original vision was as wonderful as they said it was, the fight would have been worth it. Instead, today’s climbdown has confirmed two things: one, Microsoft themselves did not fully believe in the always-online, no used games Xbox, and two, Microsoft were simply not willing to put in the hard work to make this happen. They have taken the easy option, and so proved to the world that the benefits they were supposedly trying to bring to gamers with these restrictions were just empty words.

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