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The Guns of Navarro: Reversal of Fortune

Microsoft's changes to its Xbox One DRM policies were undoubtedly shocking. Alex sifts through the ashes to see what it all means.

Corporations are notoriously slow creatures. That slowness generally stands in direct proportion to the size of the corporation itself. The bigger the beast, the more people, bureaucratic processes, and legal wrangling every single decision must be pumped through before any kind of minute decision can be made. It's why I never expect much when fan outcry arises toward the various monolithic companies that make up the video game industry. Especially in the case of a behemoth like Microsoft, whose Xbox One DRM policies became the subject of much derision over the course of the last month. Here was a company that was laying out its carefully built plans for a new console, its first in eight years. This is unquestionably a huge undertaking, involving years of research and development, and considerable capital. Yes, people reacted poorly when Microsoft announced that it would not allow traditional used game sales on the system, and would require online check-ins every 24 hours in order to even play offline games. Seemingly, in its mind, the potential riling up of DRM-weary consumers was worth the risk given the potential long-term benefits of the tech.

Patrick's Xbox One story as it appeared on BBC's Click (thanks to Rowan Pellegrin for sending this over!)

Until, of course, it very suddenly wasn't.

To say Microsoft's reversal of those aforementioned policies this week was a surprise would be a gross understatement. Nobody saw this coming. Not the developers we talked to at E3, not the various press people commenting following the show, not anyone. Even if you believed Microsoft could be worn down at some point in the future, I hardly expect you could have foreseen them making such a jarring about-face less than a week after E3's conclusion.

This is not how companies typically react to fan or media outcry. Usually there's a lot more quiet hand-wringing as they attempt to adjust messaging, or even just flat indifference to the whole thing. Which isn't to say game companies never listen to fans, but this kind of complete reversal on such a seemingly fundamental policy that had just been announced is practically unheard of. All that research, all that preparation, all that money, essentially tossed off in the hopes that fan response would turn back in Microsoft's favor.

Yes, Microsoft has been presenting these changes as very much the result of "fan feedback," that nebulous term that could refer to the myriad angry message board and comment thread postings, the consistent feed of backlash from the games press, or even less public factors, like pre-order sales. For my money, I tend to lean on that latter one. In my experience, nothing sets a game company's ass aflame quite like soft pre-order numbers. We don't know exactly what pre-orders look like for either the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4, but there's enough anecdotal info going around to suggest that Sony's E3 press conference, with its promises of no new restrictive DRM policies and a $100 cheaper price tag, brought the company terrific early results.

If you're Microsoft, I have a hard time believing you scrap such a noteworthy chunk of your system's architecture just because a lot of angry people on the Internet were angry. Companies are trained to learn that these kinds of complaints are typically more indicative of a vocal minority. But actual, tangible sales? That's another story entirely. If people aren't pre-ordering your console to the degree that you're expecting, that's when you would typically see a company leap into action to affect change. A leap this high and this fast tells me that something was very seriously wrong in Microsoft land, and that this was not just some play to appease an upset audience, but a desperate attempt at total course correction in the face of what I can only assume they foresaw as an impending doom scenario.

Even more intriguing than Microsoft's immediate about-face was the reaction that followed. Unsurprisingly, those who had spent the last 20-some-odd days deriding the Xbox One's DRM system were generally quite thrilled. But almost immediately after the announcement hit, another side of the argument piped up. While there had been some vocal supporters of Microsoft's new DRM--typically, those who believed that such a system would be the impetus to put consoles more on par with Steam's currently (mostly) beloved digital library system--their voices were largely drowned out by people who weren't into these restrictions one bit.

Former Epic Games honcho Cliff Bleszinski has been one of the more vocal opponents of Microsoft's reversal.

So now, this previously shouted down group had reason to pipe up even louder, as the opposition quieted down. They were most certainly being fueled by numerous developers, who came out in dismay over Microsoft changing a policy that they believed would save the industry from eventual collapse. A predominantly dire attitude was taken on by prominent figures like Cliff Bleszinski and Lee Perry as they spoke of doomsaying numbers that they proclaimed showed how bad things have gotten in top-tier game development. The thing is, they're not wrong. The current model is deeply in the red, with not a lot of return on investment for increasingly bloated game budgets. That bloat, as most developers will tell you, is the direct result of the staffing and resource requirements inherent to crafting "top quality experiences" in the kinds of timetables major publishers require. Games that sell millions of copies are often still "disappointments," because they're not hitting the kinds of targets the publishers had banked on. Whether those expectations were ever realistic to begin with is, sadly, not often up for debate, since usefully precise data on game budgets and sales numbers is still generally kept away from the public view.

But as Chris Kohler notes in a piece written Friday, this isn't just an either/or argument. It's not literally: "We get rid of used games, or top quality video games go away." Nothing so binary has ever existed in this business. Companies have failed and succeeded in widely varying forms over the course of the last few decades, and how the industry might reshape itself in the face of unsustainable costs is very much an unknown. Cliff seems convinced that not having these new digital licensing tools would guarantee the status quo of tons of DLC, microtransactions, and the return of online passes, inevitably leading to some kind of eventual cataclysm. I don't think we really know that to be our only possible future yet.

Removed from the apocalyptic foretellings, some people were just mad because the various sharing features built into the system sounded pretty great. The family sharing feature, which would have allowed you to share any game you owned with up to 10 family members on any Xbox One, sounded really ideal. While some doubt over the veracity of that feature's description popped up later last week, those claims--that the system would only allow family members to play shared games for up to 60 minutes at a time, before being told to buy the full product--seem to have been debunked by various Microsoft men via Twitter.

And then there was the ability to access your entire games library digitally, even if you bought a physical copy originally. Losing that one does suck, no question, but if someone really is invested in the current vision of an all-digital future, Microsoft says they'll still have every game published on the system available day-and-date digitally alongside the disc-based copies. Access might not be quite as broad as it was before, but it still allows for a notable upgrade over Microsoft's current system, where disc-based games tend to lead their digital versions by quite a margin.

So certainly, there is reason to lament some of the losses in the wake of Microsoft's change, but such lament comes with a level of faith that a lot of consumers evidently weren't willing to put in Microsoft's $500 machine as it previously stood. Now, sans these restrictions, it seems that Xbox One preorders have risen on various retail sites. Granted, the PS4 still had a strong week-long lead of positive press driving it into Amazon's top sellers list, and with many of those pre-orders put in, we're now seeing those who held out on Microsoft meeting its about face in kind. Again, actual numbers for these sorts of things we won't know about until somebody decides a sufficient benchmark has been reached to put out a glowing press release, but it does seem like Microsoft has gotten a shot in the arm here, if nothing else.

Did Microsoft's about-face change your mind when it came to pre-ordering an Xbox One? I mean, I'd already pre-ordered one, but if I didn't need one for my job, I'd have waited.

It's also really only put-off what may still yet be an inevitable all-digital future, as the New York Times noted this weekend. Many seem to think that physical media isn't really long for this world. Even if Microsoft is removing its DRM restrictions on the Xbox One, there's no reason to believe they couldn't just implement that stuff again whenever it feels the market dictates. We are most certainly progressing toward a heavily digital games market, as indie games and day-one digital releases have become increasingly normal. It's been a slow push, and not everyone is there yet. The bandwidth isn't there for everyone, nor is the affordable storage space. But if you look at where we are now compared with, say, five years ago, the digital market has expanded by leaps and bounds. In another few years, the used market may begin to dry up all by its lonesome, with no forceful nudging from console makers. All those features Microsoft was talking about could easily be plugged back in, and at a time when the market is actually prepared for this kind of shift. And isn't that how it ought to be, anyway? The consumers dictating the fate of the used games market, instead of the game companies dictating it to us?

Whether or not this gambit pays off in the end, on some level, you just have to admire the moxie of it all. Sony drilled Microsoft at E3, and managed to rally the core gaming audience behind them in a way that a single console maker hasn't been able to in ages. Where Microsoft looked out-of-touch and indifferent, Sony looked self-aware and clever, and clearly were able to parlay that into strong early numbers. In making this change so abruptly, Microsoft may have dimmed Sony's E3 afterglow a bit, and brought itself back into the race. We have ourselves a ballgame again folks, and when two companies compete with this kind of fierceness, it's we, the consumers, who most often win in the end.

Alex Navarro on Google+
278 Comments
Edited by TehBuLL

achievement! Eh, those were the days. Still don't care for Microsoft nowadays. Windows 8 is a nightmare.

Posted by ONIKAGEI

"essentially tossed off in the hopes that fan response would turn back in Microsoft's favor" Has hilarious double meaning in the UK vernacular.

Also great article, watching this whole thing pan out has been a real eye opener onto some of the wrangling that goes on.

Posted by Veiasma

Great article Alex!

@tehbull said:

achievement! Eh, those were the days. Still don't care for Microsoft nowadays. Windows 8 is a nightmare.

I really like 8, but then again I have a touchscreen device.

Edited by Spiiken

I don't get why people were so furious with the Xbox One's "DRM" to begin with. Could it be that it's mostly based on a misunderstanding of their policies?

I mean, getting to share a game with up to ten people, regardless of where they live, doesn't sound that restrictive to me. Their used game policy, which allows for used games but in a way which can contribute to the consumer AND the developer sounds like a pretty awesome solution to the whole used games issue.

Oh and why does it take people so long to realize that the Kinect can actually be deactivated (on an OS level). It's written on Microsoft's bloody website.

I can, however, get why people don't like the whole 24-hour verification system. I don't think that it's a counter-piracy measure, it's more like Microsoft wanting to make sure that their entire user base is connected before they start working with server offloading to maximize the consoles performance and letting developers use their "cloud" to enhance their games.

These futuristic solutions require broadband.

It feels like the Xbox One did a lot av very interesting things that could have greatly benefited the gaming industry, but people never gave it a chance.

Edited by sephirm87

It's unfortunate that Microsoft backed down because so many gamers want to continue to live in the past. People who don't have high speed internet connection will either have to get an internet connection and join the rest of us in the 21st century, or stay behind and not enjoy games. It is a rather simple trade-off.

Edited by LikeaSsur

It's unfortunate that Microsoft backed down because so many gamers want to continue to live in the past. People who don't have high speed internet connection will either have to get an internet connection and join the rest of us in the 21st century, or stay behind and not enjoy games. It is a rather simple trade-off.

Goodness gracious. They really can't win, can they?

They had DRM, and people were unhappy. They took away the DRM, and people are unhappy because they did what the people wanted. Misery is never in short amount on the internet.

Edited by Nate

Great article, Alex. I agree with a lot of this. The one question that I still am asking, though, is why didn't Microsoft SHOW US the benefits of always online? What is the benefit to the consumer? I believe there are many, and we they only brought up a couple. In other words, why did they completely reverse their policy before even giving a decent attempt at defending how their policy might benefit consumers? Unless their really wasn't much benefit in the first place? In that case, how the hell did they think they could get away with it? I think Cliffy B and other DRM apologists out there are doing a better job of defending Microsofts policy decision than they ever did. What a royal mess.

Edited by oldenglishC

I don't know. It's good they made the console less restrictive, but now you just have two very similar consoles with a hundred dollar price difference. Why would somebody spend $100 more on the same thing? Something, something, something, substitution effect.

Posted by sephirm87

@sephirm87 said:

It's unfortunate that Microsoft backed down because so many gamers want to continue to live in the past. People who don't have high speed internet connection will either have to get an internet connection and join the rest of us in the 21st century, or stay behind and not enjoy games. It is a rather simple trade-off.

Goodness gracious. They really can't win, can they?

They had DRM, and people were unhappy. They took away the DRM, and people are unhappy because they did what the people wanted. Misery is never in short amount on the internet.

don't get me wrong, I am more upset with the gaming community that I am with Microsoft. Microsoft is trying to do what they think will be best for themselves. They had no idea that they were trying to sell a system to such a backwards audience.

Posted by cheishxc

Everything is fucking crazy right now. MS is seemingly on fire scrambling to figure out what the hell they're doing and saying with this thing. Killer Instinct is back. Cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria!

Posted by Andheez

@spiiken said:

I don't get why people were so furious with the Xbox One's "DRM" to begin with. Could it be that it's mostly based on a misunderstanding of their policies?

I mean, getting to share a game with up to ten people, regardless of where they live, doesn't sound that restrictive to me. Their used game policy, which allows for used games but in a way which can contribute to the consumer AND the developer sounds like a pretty awesome solution to the whole used games issue.

Oh and why does it take people so long to realize that the Kinect can actually be deactivated (on an OS level). It's written on Microsoft's bloody website.

I can, however, get why people don't like the whole 24-hour verification system. I don't think that it's a counter-piracy measure, it's more like Microsoft wanting to make sure that their entire user base is connected before they start working with server offloading to maximize the consoles performance and letting developers use their "cloud" to enhance their games.

These futuristic solutions require broadband.

It feels like the Xbox One did a lot av very interesting things that could have greatly benefited the gaming industry, but people never gave it a chance.

THIS. These are pretty much my exact feelings on the whole situation. The 24hr check was the only I had a problem with as well, I was more than okay with the trade offs on the rest of the features.

Edited by KemoSabe
Posted by Wuddel

This whole stuff left me so jaded about consoles, that I am currently shopping for PC parts.

Posted by believer258

That bloat, as most developers will tell you, is the direct result of the staffing and resource requirements inherent to crafting "top quality experiences" in the kinds of timetables major publishers require. Games that sell millions of copies are often still "disappointments," because they're not hitting the kinds of targets the publishers had banked on. Whether those expectations were ever realistic to begin with is, sadly, not often up for debate, since usefully precise data on game budgets and sales numbers is still generally kept away from the public view.

If companies are complaining about games selling millions and not making the money they need to cover their budgets, then it seems quite clear to me that budgets have been blown way out of proportion and are not in the least realistic. I'm no industry expert, but something must be done to lower these budgets. Cutting used games out of the picture and forcing more DRM on people aren't going to cut it, nor are tacked-on multiplayer and overly expensive DLC.

Cliff seems convinced that not having these new digital licensing tools would guarantee the status quo of tons of DLC, microtransactions, and the return of online passes, inevitably leading to some kind of eventual cataclysm.

And just what the hell makes Cliff think these things would go away if the Xbox's DRM had not been taken out of the picture? All of those things make money. Don't forget about the fact that, in this glorious all digital future, Microsoft has control over the prices of all games and you can bet your ass that they will stay at $60 as long as they can, so while online passes would go away, you would still be paying exorbitant amounts of money for games that should be much cheaper than they are. Mediocre DLC and microtransactions will continue to be a thing with or without DRM simply because they make money.

Edited by Claude

I'll buy a used Xbone one day and play a used game just to say, yeah, I fucked twice the bitches.

Posted by dougbrit2

A wonderful read Alex,

I think what my personal feelings on the matter are that Microsoft burnt a lot of people by saying this is what we're doing, get onboard or buy a 360. Then they see sales figures grim, they 180 and as you explain get a huge "Shot in the arm". Why? Simply because now everyone wants to sweep it under the rug and keep their gamertags and achievements. Something about that disturbs me in the worst way, that a company can show so little respect on to say, 'yeah, just kidding guys'!

I was ready to sit this generation out, but Nintendo's messaging came off as very open, honest and sincere, restoring my faith that some compainies still have moral employees.

Sony's message about, we were for gamers and still are also made me feel there is hope.

I don't want competition to go away, I just wish more people were willing to stand up and not just slap microsoft on the wrist. /EndRant

Posted by neoepoch

Everytime someone says they "don't understand why people are upset about the always-on DRM" and try to point at Steam at being the same thing as what Microsoft was trying to do, I always have to counter that Steam has an actual offline mode.It is like people seem to forget that.

Edited by darkest4

You lost by quoting Cliff, can we please stop giving this guy attention? I can't believe people really buy into this notion that used games are killing video games. Used games have been around from the start and the industry has grown tons. Many developers are doing just fine, those that struggle are struggling due to their own fault, stop letting them convince you otherwise. Every other physical product in the world has a used market. Blaming used games is just them not wanting to take responsibility for their own mistakes. Those companies are paying their execs too much, focusing too much on costly things like EXPLOSIONS EVERYWHERE instead of quality story telling, creating shitty games that no one wants, not managing their money correctly and so on... and then blaming everything on used games. It's just a cop out, stop letting them convince you it's true.

Stop listening to guys like Cliff talk about how they desperately need more money and used games are killing them.. the guy is just another greedy millionaire who want to make more millions with minimal effort pumping out lazy sequels. Maybe developers should start by cutting the pay checks of guys like Cliff instead of blaming everyone else?

http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-businessmen/cliff-bleszinski-net-worth/

Boo hoo Cliffy, making 15million in this "dying industry" being pillaged by "used games", you only have hundreds of times more money than your average customer poor guy I feel so bad for you. Give me a break.

Posted by Corvak

The problem wasn't the Xbox One. It was always a gaming public unprepared for it. The future of gaming will exist in the digital space - but quite simply, its really easy to be in a major city (especially on the west coast) with broadband everywhere, and call this an amazing idea, where a large chunk of 360 owners - maybe 20-30% - don't always have their system connected.

Furthermore, you get into the whole can of worms that opens when internet providers seek to limit usage, while media providers develop ways to use even more. We're not talking about ISPs cracking down on 1% of customers torrenting and eating up more than their share of service anymmore - that level of data consumption is becoming the norm. Only when providers can offer fast low cost service without data caps, will cloud based processing be viable.

Edited by Anund

This whole discussion is so pointless. I don't see why it has to be an either/or situation? Why does a digital library require a draconian DRM system?

How about, oh I don't know... if you purchase a game digitally it gets added to your digial library of games. You can access this library while you are online. If you want to play offline, just buy a disc and slap it in the system. Problem fixed, no? Everyone is happy. The people who don't mind playing online always can do so and get the benefits of an always present digital library and the people who want to be able to play offline can do so with discs.

And why, if digital purchases are so much better for the industry are they always more expensive than their disc-based counterparts? A new game on Steam is invariably €5 - €10 more expensive to buy directly through Steam rather than getting a physical copy in a store.

Posted by alwaysbebombing

@tehbull: Why is it that people hate windows 8? Once you click on desktop, it's pretty much the same thing.

And from my Information Systems standpoint; it functions almost identically to Windows 7.

Posted by dougbrit2

@sephirm87: Why must everyone who was against needing to connect every 24 hours be 'Backwards'?

There is room for both the digital future we're seeing and more choice, who's losing? Don't be hurtful to others please, dividing a community is the only thing I'd see as backwards. We all wan't the same thing :-).

Edited by Anund

@alwaysbebombing said:

@tehbull: Why is it that people hate windows 8? Once you click on desktop, it's pretty much the same thing.

And from my Information Systems standpoint; it functions almost identically to Windows 7.

Because change sucks, right? No, seriously, I have no issues with Windows 8. My computer starts in 20 seconds, and 5 of those consist of me entering my password. The screen takes longer to start than the computer. All metro is is a reskin of the start menu. Sure, running apps in Metro mode is insanity on a desktop, but there is no need to do that.

Posted by neoepoch

don't get me wrong, I am more upset with the gaming community that I am with Microsoft. Microsoft is trying to do what they think will be best for themselves. They had no idea that they were trying to sell a system to such a backwards audience.

It is like you are not even trying hard to be subtle about the fact that you are a pompous douche on a high horse. Get over yourself. There are more reasons than "not having broadband" that people take issue with about this draconian DRM. You are right about one thing. Microsoft was doing this DRM for themselves, not the consumer. It isn't about making things easier for the consumer, but rather treating their actual paying customers as criminals and constantly branding them with suspicion. They wanted control over everything you did, and people didn't want to have anything to do with that. The market fucking dictates, and if people won't buy because of that issue, then Microsoft better damn well accept that. Capitalism works both ways.

Edited by darkdragonmage99

The digital only future isn't going to happen we still sell cd's for god sake you can buy the song you like off it for 99 cents the entire album for 7 dollars or buy the cd for 20 and the cd market is still strong. Physical media is here to stay whether people like it or not.

Posted by sephirm87

@neoepoch said:

@sephirm87 said:

don't get me wrong, I am more upset with the gaming community that I am with Microsoft. Microsoft is trying to do what they think will be best for themselves. They had no idea that they were trying to sell a system to such a backwards audience.

It is like you are not even trying hard to be subtle about the fact that you are a pompous douche on a high horse. Get over yourself. There are more reasons than "not having broadband" that people take issue with about this draconian DRM. You are right about one thing. Microsoft was doing this DRM for themselves, not the consumer. It isn't about making things easier for the consumer, but rather treating their actual paying customers as criminals and constantly branding them with suspicion. They wanted control over everything you did, and people didn't want to have anything to do with that. The market fucking dictates, and if people won't buy because of that issue, then Microsoft better damn well accept that. Capitalism works both ways.

People only do things for themselves. That is the only reason anyone does anything that they do.

Posted by Jetpaction

Very good article Alex! I'm with you for 100%.

The digital-only videogame age will come eventually, but with baby steps. How many baby steps will be decided by the consumers and not by Sony or Microsoft.

Edited by Reisz

@spiiken: The supposed sales numbers proved without a doubt that consumers as a whole aren't ready for any of that. Sharing sounded really interesting but not in the face of everything else. The responsibility to make sure we don't misunderstand the policies of their new system lies solely with Microsoft. As it turned out they were more able to completely recant their previous position than convince anyone what they had planned was worth buying. That speaks volumes.

You don't sell a product to a hundred million users by positioning it for five years from now. You sell it on the strengths of the current market, give consumers what they want and build in the flexibility to adapt as the years go by.

Make no mistake, this was a good move for us and Microsoft.

Damn good article Alex.

Edited by Claude

@neoepoch said:

@sephirm87 said:

don't get me wrong, I am more upset with the gaming community that I am with Microsoft. Microsoft is trying to do what they think will be best for themselves. They had no idea that they were trying to sell a system to such a backwards audience.

It is like you are not even trying hard to be subtle about the fact that you are a pompous douche on a high horse. Get over yourself. There are more reasons than "not having broadband" that people take issue with about this draconian DRM. You are right about one thing. Microsoft was doing this DRM for themselves, not the consumer. It isn't about making things easier for the consumer, but rather treating their actual paying customers as criminals and constantly branding them with suspicion. They wanted control over everything you did, and people didn't want to have anything to do with that. The market fucking dictates, and if people won't buy because of that issue, then Microsoft better damn well accept that. Capitalism works both ways.

People only do things for themselves. That is the only reason anyone does anything that they do.

Eat people for profit sounds like the future to me.

Posted by Twisted_Scot

Meh, people who are quick to hit the Internet and set-upon something or someone with such ferocity during a console launch tend to either be the ones who complain constantly but buy it anyway or had already made up their minds before either was official. This doesn't include everyone who was pissed about the whole situation but a lot of them. I had hope XBO would push things in interesting ways and although I didn't like ALL aspects of MS's proposal I did feel that they may have been on to something good. I hope they can come up with a solid compromise at some point down the line as It would be a shame to just end up with 2 similar consoles, both doing the exact same thing.

Either way it still just depends on what you want from your living room console.

Posted by AlKusanagi

That hundred dollar price difference is still going to be the breaking point. They need to stop trying to hitch their horse to Kinect, and just offer it as a separate peripheral.

Remember when every 360 game was supposed to have Kinect components? And how all we got were a couple of games with voice command? Most likely less than a year into the One we'll see see it dropped altogether just like is was on the 360.

Edited by RecSpec

I still believe that while massive consumer outrage played a part, Gamestop's actions scared Microsoft to the point where the change had to happen this fast.

Posted by Maajin

Anyone has a link to the video that BBC image comes from? It would be greatly appreciated!

Posted by Y2Ken

I was interested to hear people talking (I think specifically I heard it on Idle Thumbs, but I could be mistaken) about how neither console adopting backwards compatibility means they aren't worried about people feeling invested in a platform.

I would suggest the reason they think that way is that there is now another way people are invested - through their XBL/PSN account, and the thousands of achievements and/or trophies they have accumulated. Sure, those things don't matter to everyone, but I'm sure there are plenty of people who would baulk at the idea of simply throwing away eight years of collectible points. Plus they may have a username they like which is already taken on the other service - perhaps not a deal-breaker, but these things probably all add up.

I'm just interested to know how many people feel tied in to one system because they want to stick with the account they have invested so much time and money into. Personally it doesn't really sway my decision, as I'll happily play on any system if they have a game I'm interested in. Though if I wasn't already sold on PS4 from the stuff they've shown, perhaps I'd feel obliged to keep up my PS+ sub until I did want to pick one up, just so I didn't lose access to that Instant Game Library.

Also, enjoyed the article as ever Alex. :)

Edited by Fistoh

@likeassur said:

@sephirm87 said:

It's unfortunate that Microsoft backed down because so many gamers want to continue to live in the past. People who don't have high speed internet connection will either have to get an internet connection and join the rest of us in the 21st century, or stay behind and not enjoy games. It is a rather simple trade-off.

Goodness gracious. They really can't win, can they?

They had DRM, and people were unhappy. They took away the DRM, and people are unhappy because they did what the people wanted. Misery is never in short amount on the internet.

don't get me wrong, I am more upset with the gaming community that I am with Microsoft. Microsoft is trying to do what they think will be best for themselves. They had no idea that they were trying to sell a system to such a backwards audience.

Not everyone in the country wants or has access to the internet. There are several places in the country where broadband internet isn't an option, and some people just don't want it, and don't pay for it.

Not to mention our soldiers, who Microsoft basically told to go fuck themselves and buy a 360.

Here's the thing, did any of Microsoft's DRM policies affect me? No not a one, I rarely buy used games and have my console connected to the internet anyway, but as soon as you tell me I can't buy used games, and have to connect to the internet; fuck you! Is that reasonable? Not at all, but it is bad PR.

Posted by Regular_Kirk

As others have said maybe part of the industries problem is more related to out of control budgets than anything else. Maybe publishers should cut down on the annualizations of these huge franchises. How many hundreds of people does it take to create an annual COD game or Assassin's Creed game? It's too much.

Edited by iAmJohn
@darkdragonmage99 said:

@sephirm87: easier said then done jackass that 21 century technology you speak of isn't available to everyone you should look up the statistic before talking out your ass. more than half of the united state doesn't have broadband available for them no matter what they would pay. That's the richest country in the world what do you think the rest of the world looks like ?

I think you should take some time out of the city or suburb and see how most people live mr 21 century

It's their fault for being so stupid as to live there, obviously. They will be abandoned in this glorious new gaming future and nothing of value will be lost.

It's amazing to me how much people who parrot Microsoft's "well I always have access to internet so you should too, plebeian" line don't fucking get it. We have a massive problem in this industry where the budgets for top-tier games are massively increasing beyond the size of the audience that would be interested in these games, and your response is to champion a console that would shrink the audience even more? And the response when this is pointed out is: "Oh well, it's time for you idiots to get with the future?" Perhaps if you weren't so selfish, you'd realize that you're acting against your best interests.

EDIT: I probably don't have to point out that the second paragraph is using the royal "you" and isn't aimed at anyone in particular, but I'm gonna do it anyway.

Posted by Bill_Rizer

I think we just saw the rise of the entitlement generation now dictating the future for everyone else with their incessant, butthurt, and whining. Yet, it should be said, that these weak-minded fools can also be easily manipulated into cheering for things such as now having to pay for multiplayer. Did you see how happy they were for that?

Edited by Budwyzer

@veiasma said:

Great article Alex!

@tehbull said:

achievement! Eh, those were the days. Still don't care for Microsoft nowadays. Windows 8 is a nightmare.

I really like 8, but then again I have a touchscreen device.

I like 8 as well. I'm using it for my HTPC with a Flirc. The new Metro View works really well on the TV.

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Posted by toddacoco40

I think Microsoft's recent DRM approach was intended to follow their current business policies. All of their current practices int the business space are being laid out to get each person who uses one of their products to pay full retail regardless of the product value. Whether you use MS Operating system or buy an Xbox One game, their desires are for each individual user to purchase a licensed copy of that software and totally eliminate piracy or product sharing in any way shape or form. That all equals maximum profits for them. Their ability to do this with the OS and other non gaming products is dictated by industry adoption and the lack of competition. They will continue to push for maximum profitability without much concern for how it affects their users as often as possible. Microsoft is a very rich business for a reason. Their intent it to put you over a barrel and stick you in the the rear and tell you how good it is. Sony just agreed to keep the same old DRM policies in place. That's what the gaming market wants. Microsoft changed face due to the lack of pre orders, nothing else. They stood to loose vast market share and profitability. Sony actually seems to be interested in what gamers want today. Good for them.
Some of the Xbox One PR staff will be taken out of the game. They just fumbled the opening kickoff of the Superbowl.

Posted by Sword5

The most bizarre part of this whole affair is that the games press pretended they gave a shit about the average gamer. Hopefully the MS turn will place us back into the entitled hatemonger role we are normally given.

Posted by iAmJohn

I think we just saw the rise of the entitlement generation now dictating the future for everyone else with their incessant, butthurt, and whining. Yet, it should be said, that these weak-minded fools can also be easily manipulated into cheering for things such as now having to pay for multiplayer. Did you see how happy they were for that?

How are the people who - even in the comments of this very story - claim that because they have access to excellent broadband with no downtimes, never buy used games and don't want to buy discs anymore that we should all have accepted the Xbox One as it was any less entitled?

Edited by Deek069

If Microsoft (or Sony for that matter) want the future to be all digital there is one sure way of doing it; make the digital version of the games a little cheaper.

I can see no reason why both physical and digital are the same price as surely they are saving a vast amount on production and distribution costs, and cutting out the middle men, not to mention the (apparent) gain from removing the ability to re-sell the game.

Posted by Scrawnto

@anund said:

@alwaysbebombing said:

@tehbull: Why is it that people hate windows 8? Once you click on desktop, it's pretty much the same thing.

And from my Information Systems standpoint; it functions almost identically to Windows 7.

Because change sucks, right? No, seriously, I have no issues with Windows 8. My computer starts in 20 seconds, and 5 of those consist of me entering my password. The screen takes longer to start than the computer. All metro is is a reskin of the start menu. Sure, running apps in Metro mode is insanity on a desktop, but there is no need to do that.

I'm with the two of you there. I use Win7 at work and Win8 at home. The primary difference between the two is that I have a slightly nicer task manager at home.

Posted by Regular_Kirk

I don't know. It's good they made the console less restrictive, but now you just have two very similar consoles with a hundred dollar price difference. Why would somebody spend $100 more on the same thing? Something, something, something, substitution effect.

Two words: Xbox Live. For many it's worth the extra hundred bucks to continue using the service most of their friends use.

Edited by Sammo21

I also don't buy this "family sharing" option to let people share games with 10 users. Why would they potentially lose up to 10 shares? Microsoft and its techs also claimed you couldn't turn off its many features "with the flip of a switch" but it ended up doing that didn't they?

Edited by Tesla

Once again, the blame rests almost entirely with Microsofts marketing team.

The only message they seem clear in communicating are things the consumer can't have. There were no doubts about the way DRM and online check in and used games would work, but any supposed benefits of this plan were vague at best.

Not only that, but why do the benefits have to go away with the change in DRM policy? Even still Microsoft is spending time telling consumers what they won't be getting. "Sorry kids, but no more family sharing!" What's stopping them from keeping the family share for games you purchase digitally? What's stopping them from requiring you to be online for that feature to work, but allowing you to be offline for single player disc based games?

They say that their plan was so integral to the way their system would work, but they drop it like a bad habit mere days after E3. Either there was no grand plan, or their plan was shit. Neither scenario gives me confidence in their product.

Posted by cikame

It's unfortunate that Microsoft backed down because so many gamers want to continue to live in the past. People who don't have high speed internet connection will either have to get an internet connection and join the rest of us in the 21st century...

My internet speed is dictated by the phone lines installed in this area, and the UK's inability to keep a stable connection going, short of buying my very own satellite i'm stuck, along with many thousands of others.
I'm probably paying more for 10% of what you have.

Posted by sephirm87

@deek069 said:

If Microsoft (or Sony for that matter) want the future to be all digital there is one sure way of doing it; make the digital version of the games a little cheaper.

I can see no reason why both physical and digital are the same price as surely they are saving a vast amount on production and distribution costs, and cutting out the middle men, not to mention the (apparent) gain from removing the ability to re-sell the game.

The reason why is that the retailers make the publisher agree to not sell at a lower price. Why would a retailer sell a product that the publisher will sell somewhere else cheaper, undercutting them? If the publisher does not agree, the retailer will not carry the game, and since retailers like Wal Mart and Best Buy are where most people still get their games, the publishers have to agree.