The lights are on
Yesterday was the first big news day of the next generation. Sure, the PlayStation 4 reveal was exciting. Yes, the internet exploded (many times) as the Xbox One came into focus. Of course, E3 2013 was a monumental event. Yesterday was still bigger.
When a report on Giant Bomb first disclosed that we'd be seeing sweeping changes to the Xbox One DRM and online connection policies, social media channels erupted (largely) in applause. The optimists believe Microsoft executives were listening to consumers. The pessimists are certain that it was financial motivations that forced the change. The realists know that it doesn't matter.
With the good news comes one major, unfortunate development. The down side of Microsoft's reversal is that all game sharing has been eliminated. This includes digital purchases that shouldn't necessarily be affected by the change to retail games. Xbox chief product officer Marc Whitten explained to us that prior to the switch, all media was viewed the same way. This shift to an environment in which retail and digital are different has left Microsoft with no choice but to abandon game sharing.
Yesterday's big story isn't the change in tactics. It's that Microsoft finally realized that it couldn't force the digital future it so desperately wants. Despite the delay, the company hasn't abandoned its plan. Far from it.
No, Microsoft has gotten smart. The vision of a digital future spearheaded by Don Mattrick, president of Microsoft's interactive entertainment division, is still alive. I have no doubt that plans are already underway to lure gamers away from physical media. All is not lost for Microsoft. The Xbox One's original endgame is still something the company very much believes in, and here's how I think they are going to get there:
The difference is in the communication. Change is scary, and the knee jerk reaction is often one of revulsion. Microsoft attempted to force sweeping alterations to how consumers view ownership in the console space without fully considering perception.
The company can still achieve its goals of a digital future. Now, it can get there with gamers saying, "thank you" instead of "screw you."
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I like your ideas for MS getting the XBO where they had intended and I believe they will work toward it, hopefully slowly, like you suggest. I don't doubt that both systems will resemble this concept by the time this generation is over. I just hope that they do it on our terms and not try to force it all at once. Some change needs to be drastic and sweeping, but I think in terms of gaming and the gamer's experience, that is not necessary.
Good content drives profits more than digital delivery schemes and nutty rules. I'll repurchase Just Cause 2 to play it again on PC, DRM locked through Steam happily. I'd have felt like a sucker if I paid $60 for Bioshock Infinite because (good as it was) it was over way too soon for me.
I was thinking the same thing, offering exclusive perks and digital download discounts would lure lots of gamers to purchase digital software in my opinion. As a designer, I had hoped Microsoft didn't conform completely to the public's demands and I hope they push this digital software movement in the future. Still, I understand the power that GameStop and GameFly has on the market.
That just made my day.