So yeah… Microsoft does a 180 on the Xbox One’s DRM policies
Is this good? Is this bad? Does any of this matter? What is the moral from all of this?
Microsoft has started off its leap into the next generation of console gaming with one of the worst PR blunders in recent memory (perhaps the Gizmondo out does it in some ways, but this is on a much grander scale). It’s been a fascinating game of poker to watch unfold; Microsoft have constantly kept going all in without looking at their hand, while Sony have been more than happy to sit back and reap the rewards of Microsoft flipping over a 2 & 7 every time.
PR blunders like Don Mattrick suggesting that the launch price of £429 for the XBox One was “over-delivering on value” is ridiculous, mainly because up to £100 of that is for a hardware peripheral that a large base of gamers have no interest in – especially considering the privacy issues and concerns which have still not been fully discussed as well.
Now the arguments against Microsoft’s 180 are by-and-large the claims that we’re stuck with DLC, micro-transactions etc – and we can expect them to get worse in the near future, which doesn’t concern me to a point, because I’m not interested in the games that abuse these systems anyway. And does anyone truly believe exclusive DLC packages are going away anytime soon?
Also, it’s been said under Microsoft’s direction, that games could potentially be sold cheaper and a model similar to Steam’s could have eventually been implemented. This is great in theory, but that doesn’t mean it would have worked out that way. Games that can be sold digitally on the XBox 360, PS3 and both the Wii & Wii U cost about the same – and in some cases they cost more (hello every EA game) – as they do in your local shop. And that’s down to places like GAME; want your game in our shop? It can’t be cheaper on your digital market. And publishers like EA and Activision are not exactly pioneers of cutting prices on their big titles anytime soon after release.
So theoretically for games to be sold cheaper, places like GAME would need to not exist anymore. They’re probably not so thrilled about that, and with Sony’s announcement that they will support used games, Microsoft’s only hope would have been to go fully digital, a scenario that will probably happen, but as the backlash against Microsoft’s XBox One shows, one that people are not ready for yet.
People have mourned about the new ways that games could be shared – although I fail to see what the problem is with going to your mates house and lending him the disc. Plus I don’t like people – you’re not sharing my stuff.
If nothing else from yesterday’s news, we can probably understand now the reasoning behind the post-E3 conference being called off. Microsoft were doing a sterling job when discussing the XBox One – what with the May 21st reveal and aftermath turning into a giant cluster of misinformation. So to haul together a conference after the E3 show (which made no mention of DRM, 24 check-in) would have been disastrous if they were talking over whether to do this 180.
The one ‘benefit’ that Microsoft will throw a rope round and drag through the fields till November is its ‘server cloud’ – or whatever marketing name they decide to give it. An overly complicated system which, so far, has been presented in typical North American fashion of being BIGGER AND BETTER AND HERE ARE THE NUMBERZZZZ but without showing off a whole lot of how that will work. Titanfall highlights single player situations in multiplayer games, but I still don’t quite understand how that differs from having AI enemies in multiplayer mode. Apparently Forza 5 has “human intelligence,” only possible through the use of the cloud, but that still remains to be seen how much difference that makes.
Now with Sony currently sitting under a bright light as our lord and savior, it should be mentioned they are no guardian angels – just look at their latest firmware update. They had no choice but to confess of the mistakes of the PS3 and to get back in the good books of both developers and the consumers. It would seem they are achieving the former by opening up their arms to developers of all shapes and sizes, plus having hardware which, by all reports, is not utterly broken. Add on top Microsoft’s bone-headed approach to the indie scene and the news that XBLA and XBL Indie Games will merge together, with no ability to self-publish, and it seems obvious where the majority of developers are going to head.
If Microsoft wishes to sort out its current PR nightmare, than addressing the indie development scene is a MUST. Not to say that the next-gen will be decided on indie games – that would be ridiculous. But with the likelihood of major titles sitting around that £40 at release – having games like Super Meat Boy, Bastion and Braid available for under a tenner, will always be attractive propositions for people who want something a little cheaper – but still as rewarding.
My biggest concern from all of this is that even after E3, where… y’kno… we got to see some games, the focus is still very much on the hardware, or better yet: the software within the hardware that isn’t the games. And the line-up of games to be released shows a lot of promise, although many people (myself included) will look at the ones which are not XBox One exclusive and wonder if it will be better to wait for the PC port. Plus there is the little fact that while everyone has been throwing darts at the XBox One screaming ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY, it’s hard to call this a complete 180 – somewhere down the line these policies will be put into practice.
Still… I’ll gladly accept this sort of stuff for another few months.