Xbox One is Xboned, or How I Grew Up and Learned to love Consumer Activism

For anyone who hasn’t read the latest out of Microsoft regarding their used game and online connection requirements, you can find it at this link (http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/main).

If you don’t want waste your time digging through that information to find the explaination, I don’t blame you. Here are the dirty bits:

Under Xbox One: A Modern, Connected Device:

“With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies.”

Under How Games Licensing Works on Xbox One:

“Xbox One is designed so game publishers can enable you to give your disc-based games to your friends. There are no fees charged as part of these transfers. There are two requirements: you can only give them to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days and each game can only be given once.”

“In our role as a game publisher, Microsoft Studios will enable you to give your games to friends or trade in your Xbox One games at participating retailers. Third party publishers may opt in or out of supporting game resale and may set up business terms or transfer fees with retailers. Microsoft does not receive any compensation as a part of this. In addition, third party publishers can enable you to give games to friends. Loaning or renting games won’t be available at launch, but we are exploring the possibilities with our partners.”

While these are small excerpts from the overall page, it is very telling of the path Microsoft has chosen to take on used games and network connection. This of course has the necessary cornucopia of gamers calling down fire and brimstone around Microsoft and their choice of policies. This has lead to some claiming that these policies will lead to the failure of the platform and Microsoft’s credibility in the game-space. While the latter is certainly true, the former is far from determined; in fact, I suspect that the opposite is true.

I said in an earlier post that I believe the Xbox One, or as I loving refer to it as the ‘Xbone,’ stands to be the most successful selling system of this generation, and I still stand by that assertion even after this recent reveal. How? Why? Three reasons?

1) They aren’t targeting gamers

Their major marketing strategy isn’t about winning over the gaming crowd, just the average person. Homemakers who don’t want to search for the remote while carrying their children, fathers who want to watch the game and skype with buddies without missing any of the action looking away from the screen, frat boys who want more interaction with their sports, games, and sports games are all in the scope of who Microsoft wants interested in the Xbox One.

This strategy has worked before as recently as the previous generation with the Wii. Nintendo decided to target outside the spectrum of traditional gamers, and sold millions of units on that strategy, much to the chagrin of others in and around the industry. Apple did the same thing with the iphone and ipad, targeting outside the scope of wanton technophiles and made a killing with it. This is a tried an true strategy when selling hardware in this market, and one that will likely be successful again.

2) Consumers, not informed consumers

Microsoft is not banking on selling their product to people because of these new policies, rather they plan on selling it to people who know little to nothing about them. While the gaming community is alight with this new information, Microsoft is gambling that the general public will not be informed of this until they’ve already bought one — and by that point they won’t care. The fact that the three paragraphs I pulled required clicking two links, and scrolling nearly to the bottom of the page, means while they are certainly not hiding it, they aren’t going to bring it to the attention of someone just casually interested in the product.

This will change depending heavily on price point, and noone expects the Xbox One to be cheap. However, if they provide alternative payment methods, like they have with the 360 recently, selling it won’t be that much of an issue.

3) Gamer’s opinions won’t matter

This is what no gamer wants to hear, but in the end, Microsoft isn’t interested in the gamers that are still concerned over this.  Microsoft is hedging it’s bets that there aren’t as many gamers upset over this as the internet would have us all believe. Voices carry in a cave, and when darkness prevents everyone from seeing each other, it’s difficult to tell the echoes from the actual words.  Microsoft believes there are more echos than actual complaints, and their market strategy reflects that.

In addtion, Microsoft is counting on the same wave EA has been riding for a couple of years now — gamers will still buy games, even when they say they won’t. While EA has suffered critical backlash, and some financial quandaries, they’re still around and making games.  A company doesn’t live long enough to see two Golden Poo’s when noone is buying their product.  Truth is, if nearly as many gamers had boycotted EA as they said they have, EA would not have a leg to stand on right now. The end of the day, Microsoft is counting on the idea that even gamers that complain will buy the games anyway.  This is why E3 will likely be the turning point, as they likely have a good deal of great titles to show us.

So then, while I hate to admit it, the Xbox Oneis on more solid footing than most are giving it credit for.  Does that mean we should just bow down to our publisher overlords?  Of course not, but it requires the gaming community to mature and become active consumers.  Complaining on facebook, reddit, and twitter isn’t going to get the industry’s attention — buying products that don’t have these online and used game restrictions will send a stronger message.  That means, if the PS4 doesn’t have these features, gamers need to buy it up.  If not, it seems the only refuge is the Wii U that has been struggling for attention.

It also involves getting the word out to people who aren’t in the know.  Finding family and friends and educating them on the problems the Xbox One presents.  Encouraging others to buy products that do not support Microsoft’s initiative, or talking down friends willing to pony up cash for it.

This will not keep the Xbox One from being successful — that ship has already left the dock.  It will, however, put microsoft in an imposition provided the game industry survives this generation.  Going back to the Wii, even though Nintendo made huge numbers of sales at the beginning of last generation, as the generation waned, the gaming community’s lack of interest put them in the position they are now — floundering and begging for attention.  If this can be repeated with Microsoft, we may see them turn around in five or ten years to try an win back the customers they lost.

While such a scenario is not a devastating defeat of a corporate giant, it would still be a victory in the ongoing war for consumer-interest, which is what we all really want in the end.

Further Reading:

http://consumerist.com/2013/04/09/ea-makes-worst-company-in-america-history-wins-title-for-second-year-in-a-row/

https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRzmg51Lnz–8HiT9_0YinqipinlG1i0kxiY_ps9DfrX8BJ3LFA
http://m.cnet.com/news/want-a-new-xbox-360-for-$99-pay-for-xbox-live-for-two-years/57429189?ds=1
http://airboundgab3.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/and-the-looser-of-the-next-generation-war-is/
http://geekbravado.com/2013/06/06/xbox-one-when-your-customers-become-your-enemy/

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9 thoughts on “Xbox One is Xboned, or How I Grew Up and Learned to love Consumer Activism

  1. airboundgab3 June 7, 2013 at 8:51 pm Reply

    thanks for the reference in your article. we can agree to disagree but you bring various valid points. keep up the good work

  2. Parallax Abstraction June 7, 2013 at 8:59 pm Reply

    Hey there! I just wanted to say thank you for my first trackback to Geek Bravado ever, I appreciate it. 🙂 I read through your post and you make a lot of good points. I don’t know if I agree with your final conclusions (I think the backlash against this has been bigger and more public than Microsoft expected and I think it could hurt them, but we won’t know for a while) but you do make a lot of compelling arguments. As I said in my blog, this is Sony’s big chance to rip the thunder from Microsoft’s hand. Whether they will or not remains to be seen. But I love a good debate, thanks for contributing to this one. 🙂

  3. feelingblind June 8, 2013 at 5:54 am Reply

    Targeting non-gamers might work if it weren’t for their unbelievably restrictive policies. Not everyone has broadband wireless internet in their home, and even those that do may not understand how to (and that you have to) connect the system to the internet. Considering the lock-out from all games if these steps are not performed, I anticipate thousands of customers up in-arms claiming the system doesn’t work.

    Once you get the “every consumer” to turn against you, then you’re going to have a problem. Parents will claim that these restrictions should have been more clearly advertised, or should have been told to them prior to purchase. Then they’ll go on to say things like “none of my other video game consoles required this non-sense” and that’s when you’ll see a spike in sales for things like the Wii U that offer new gaming experiences, but without all the red tape.

    • Nyuuron June 8, 2013 at 7:12 am Reply

      I suppose that’s possible, but the machine just won’t be able to play games when offline. Tv and movies will still function, (though obviously social media won’t), so it depends how important the game playing aspect will be to the general audience. My suspicion is only mildly.

      In an interview, Michael Patcher suspects that Microsoft will partner with broadband companies also to put this in as many homes as possible and force the infrastructure to grow. If that’s true, having a cable company come out to help install it alleviates the problems ignorant users may have. Link is here: http://youtu.be/Mfe2oMTSd70

      • feelingblind June 8, 2013 at 5:07 pm

        Still I can’t see consumers getting an Xbox One for media purposes when they can get a cable box from their carrier for much, much cheaper.

        Also, online is needed to play games as well as do anything on the system. If you buy a video game system and take it home and it only plays DVD/Blu-ray discs, people are going to upset. The average consumer will either think it’s broken, or will get upset the internet requirement information wasn’t told to them at the time of purchase, which is going to make an issue for retail chains like your Target and GameStop.

        If it happens enough, stores may not want to carry the item if it’s going to cause their customer service department tons of headaches.

      • Nyuuron June 9, 2013 at 7:46 am

        Perhaps I give too much credit, but I think when people see Skype or Facebook, many of them will understand an Internet connection will be required for those.

        Also, if consumers were that technology illiterate the iPad and other tablet devices would never have a leg to stand on, since their functionality is extremely limited without an Internet connection of some kind.

      • feelingblind June 9, 2013 at 10:06 am

        True, but devices like the iPad have a greater tendency to rely on 3G or 4G internet, where it’s mostly automatic. When dealing with WiFi it usually requires passwords, and for people who don’t understand technology, more often than not the technician who sets up the WiFi will do that on the PC, and only have to do it once.

        Even though the new console will have features like Facebook and Skype, not everyone uses them on a console, in fact I bet a large majority of people won’t ever touch those services. The way the system is, you need internet to play games you get on a disc, even if they it’s just single player gaming. That is going to confuse and anger a lot of people who never had to deal with these restrictions.

        Most of my friends who are tech knowledgeable and own things like an Xbox 360 don’t connect to the internet because it provides no added value to them. Just knowing the Xbox One makes this mandatory was enough to have them pass on the system all together, though there are no shortage of reasons to skip on the system outside of just this.

      • Nyuuron June 9, 2013 at 10:19 am

        Again, it comes down to the type of consumer that the Xbox One will attract. I’m certain there will be plenty of gamers that will pass it by, I just think it will sell a ridiculous number of units in spite of that.

        Don’t get me wrong, I dint mind being wrong and Microsoft being left with a dud. It’s just the historical evidence of the industry leads me to believe this will not be the case.

      • feelingblind June 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm

        I think the industry might be changing, even before these new consoles were announced, the general consensus was that there really wasn’t a need for something new. The lackluster sales of the Wii U have kind of affirmed that.

        As for whether or not Microsoft will fail, it kind of depends on if Sony will pull the same stunts with the PS4, or if Microsoft’s restrictiveness will bury them this time. I hope for the latter.

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