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.