If there is one thing that has been dominating the gaming news this past month, it would be the colossal screw up that is the XBox One. Microsoft’s $500 always online gaming system with intrusive DRM. Literally everything they say is bad news.
With Sony absolutely curbstomping them at E3 despite showing fewer exclusives purely by announcing that their system would not do what Microsoft’s is. Then you factor in Don Mattrick’s egotistical gaffe at E3 where he told everyone without an internet connection to “just buy a 360”. Microsoft has since been in full damage control trying to remove all traces of that interview from the internet while paying people to stake out WiiU events and hiring folks to promote them on Reddit. Then they got the army pissed off and started promising “deactivation codes” to allow them to play offline as well as codes for less connected countries…
Eventually you have to realize that the damage control is actually costing more than it would to re-write the OS, something they already had to do in order to cater to the rest of the world anyway. Eventually you have to realize you made some bad decisions. Eventually, Don Mattrick had to realize he’d need to fire himself.
Which is probably why, today, Don Mattrick announced that they’re taking it all back.
XBox One will not require an internet connection outside of the initial setup (possibly to download the update that removes these “features”) and will be region free. Used games are allowed, sharing games is allowed, it’ll work just like the XBox 360.
Let’s be honest here, Sony probably helped. The standing ovation they recieved at E3 sent shockwaves through the industry. Not to mention there were those early rumors about Ubisoft and EA strong arming Microsoft into their new DRM setup. However after the PS4 announcement, Ubisoft and EA went on record to claim that used games were a good thing and that they had no problems with them.
Now I don’t want to incriminate anyone, but after saying that I could imagine Microsoft going up to them and saying “So…does that mean we can remove that DRM because it is really pissing people off”.
I mean seriously though, when every single gaming website on the planet is utterly bashing you for months over this boneheaded decision, you do have to take note. They brought up a plethora of situations where the XBox One would be a bad purchase decision and while each situation only represents a minority, you add them all up and you get a majority.
Also, as I was saying mere moments before hearing this announcement, if those deactivation codes were real, what happens when they get out? What happens when I get my hands on a deactivation code on a system where all games require an installation? Things could go bad really fast.
Having said that I am a bit sad. Why? Well because this was Japan’s chance to take back the industry. I am starving for some Japanese made games aimed at a Japanese audience in Japan. If you’ll notice, those kinds of games made up the majority of what I was raving about at E3 this year. To me personally, this E3 belonged to the PS3, not the PS4. So I was kind of hoping this would put Japanese companies back on top. Microsoft is not an easy company to work with for foreigners that don’t have clout behind them. The XBox One’s initial plan proves that without a doubt! That system was made exclusively for a U.S. market and did not give a crap about any other country at all. That mindset is still dangerous and Microsoft tends to lapse into it frequently.
That’s not to applaud Sony just for being Japanese. They do the same damn thing but for Japan sometimes, but since America is where the money is right now they have to market to us as well. Microsoft, being an American company in the middle of America only has to focus on America…until we bash them upside the head and remind them that America does not want purely Western made games! Variety is the spice of life and we need games from all over the world to prevent us from getting bored with endless rehashes! (Honestly I want more South Korean games! Magna Carta 2 was awesome!)
Microsoft does still have a bit of an uphill battle though, dealing with having a weaker system at a higher price because of their foolish decision to require a Kinect. Could they back down on that too? Could we see the announcement of a $400 Kinect-less XBox One? Similarly, could they put in 360 backwards compatibility through an emulator?
Still, they picked the best possible day to announce this as right now Sony is accidentally bricking consoles with a firmware update. Professional!
Forgot to mention the real upside to this. See, people are stupid. Microsoft was banking on this. There was a chance, however slim, that a bunch of idiots would buy and support the console in spite of screamingly anti-consumer practices and thus they could catch on. Now we don’t have to worry about that.