Microsoft did something brave this week. After a pretty negative response from the so called “vocal minority” following their E3 conference, Microsoft hit the reverse gear and seemingly bent to consumer opinion. It might be argued that the PS4’s pre-order sales coming out of E3 was the deciding factor, but it can’t be denied that in many ways this was an incredibly important (and unusual) move for Microsoft.
It wasn’t long before the internet hopped all over the about-face and dubbed the new console “The Xbox One-Eighty”. Har de har har. Well, in another interesting turn of events many press and public have reacted negatively to Microsofts new decision to not only remove the more negative aspects of the Xbox One but also the removal of many of the new consoles best features. Things like game sharing and cloud storage have been eschewed in favour of this return to the norm, which is indeed a step back for gaming in general.
Admittedly, we should not have to put up with a mandatory online check in and ridiculous DRM to have access to these features, but still it’s sad to see them discarded so quickly. Was there no room for compromise? “We’ve removed the need for the mandatory check-in, but we’re now going to allow you to choose to have your Xbox “Always On” – this will allow you to receive updates at any time and enable developers to develop games using this facility” – This would have been nice, no?
How about – “We’ve kept the game sharing feature you guys and of course you can still utilise the cloud features…” I mean, it’s not like there aren’t already cloud based features on the PS3 and Steam. While Microsoft have surely guaranteed a more immediate competitive spot alongside Sony this holiday season, there are many implications to their long term vision. They could of course, potentially bring all these features (along with the negative DRM and mandatory online check-in) back at any point through the consoles lifespan. More savvy consumers realise this and while they are the “vocal minority” it will be interesting to see how the console sales pan out in November.
The PS4 uses some very sophisticated cloud technology courtesy of Dave Perrys cloud computing company Gaikai, who cut their teeth streaming full PC games to any PC, even on fairly rubbish internet connections (I was able to play Alan Wake perfectly on my 8MB connection) so it will be interesting to see what they do with all that server power. Microsoft have shown consumers that their opinion matters, but damage has still been done to their rep and it will continue to be a struggle for the redwood based giant until the mammoth console launches this November.
Although judging by the latest pre-order sales figures from Amazon, they may be back in the arms race…
What is your take on Microsofts about turn? For the better – or for the worse?
Feel free to discuss in the comments below or over on Facebook/Twitter.