You've all seen me rant and rave against the Xbox One. Here I am, gleeful to admit that Microsoft had a heart to (somewhat) change.
It's true. Microsoft announced today that they are reversing some of the controversial decisions with the Xbox One. Of primary importance is their decision to axe the 24-hour check in, the region lock, and all of their used game restrictions.
This is a time for celebration, but also a time for caution. Let's start with the good, continue with the bad, and I'll close with my personal take on the whole situation.
The good news is that for those with an unstable or unreliable internet connection, Xbox One won't lock you out of your games if you can't ping the servers. I'm not going to praise Microsoft for NOT being greedy trolls, but I admit that it is good news they decided to reverse their decision. Also, there's the removal of region locks. Now, I'm an American. Region-locking usually only prevents me from accessing a very small handful of Japan-only games. However, just because region-locking doesn't affect me does not mean I'm ignorant to its implications in other regions. I am fully aware that gamers in other countries don't get games at the same time as I do in the USA. Sometimes they don't get those games at all. Region-locking prevents these gamers from enjoying games they otherwise wouldn't be able to play, so I'm thrilled Microsoft opened up their system's region. Now they can import to their heart's content.
Lastly, no used game restrictions. This is FANTASTIC. Again, I'm not going to applaud Microsoft for simply NOT implementing an evil plan that they devised in the first place. However, I am happy to celebrate with my fellow gamers that all used game restrictions seem to be kaput.
The most important thing is this: MICROSOFT BUCKLED. To you gamers who stood up, ranted, raved, and refused to go along with Microsoft's plan, I salute you. You made your voice heard. You refused to shut up when apologists told you "wait and see". You made it known that this was unacceptable, and Microsoft listened to you. If Microsoft's change of heart is what you were looking for and now you can buy the XBox One with a clean conscience, then you should feel proud that you played a role in making that happen. To those gamers and journalists who defended Microsoft, tried to apologize it away, made excuses, called us "entitled", and even YOU - Don Mattrick - who said people without an internet connection should get a 360, screw you. Screw you x1000. This situation was made possible by your complacency, and this situation changed due in no part to your help.
Then, there's the bad news involved with this announcement. For people who loved the idea of Family sharing, digital gifting, playing your library via the cloud from any console, etc. etc., that is all gone. While I - personally - saw no value in these things, I know that some people were excited at the prospect, and now they'll be unable to try it out.
Also, the dark side of this announcement is that Microsoft now needs to make alterations to the Xbox One, a system that is coming out in less than half a year. This puts me on edge. We've already seen issues with the Xbox One in its current state (from laggy UI menus to using PCs instead of dev kits to showcase games at E3). Unless Microsoft decides to delay the Xbox One in order to patch everything up and make sure it's running smoothly, I'm fearful that the Xbox One - a system that was already being rushed, by most rumors - is going to end up even more rushed. That's bad.
Another bummer is that the online requirement is still in place. Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but it appears to me that the console requires an online connection for an initial setup and (possibly) again to register each game for the first time. It's true, after that setup you never have to connect to the internet again, Microsoft promises, but that's little comfort to those who weren't able to connect to the internet in the first place. If each game requires a registration (again, maybe I'm not reading the wording correctly. Microsoft STILL isn't being very clear or precise) the issue of having your internet down and therefore being unable to play the new game you just bought remains.
Now, here's my personal take.
This is really great news for Xbox fans who were bummed out. If the DRM and used-game restrictions were the only thing holding you back, then this should clear up those issues. However, what about the Kinect requirement? What about the focus on sports and TV? What about the higher price point and (rumored) less-powerful hardware?
And what about the fact that Microsoft was the one to introduce these ideas in the first place? Have we forgotten the rude and dismissive comments by people like Phil Spencer, Don Mattrick, and Major Nelson? Is all forgiven simply because Microsoft decided to do only SOME, not ALL of the evil things they were planning? Does it not concern anyone else that Microsoft has essentially done a complete reversal of these policies less than one month after revealing their console, and less than 10 days after E3, and less than one week after Spencer said "we're not worried about PS4"? A company that flip-flops so readily makes me leery that these changes are here to stay. Am I glad that Microsoft is changing their tune? Absolutely, because it is good for the industry, but I don't think it necessarily reflects well on Microsoft.
Some of you might be more lenient. I'm not. In my eyes, Microsoft simply showed their true colors, and the only reason why they changed some (not all) of the Xbox One's policies is because the backlash meant they would be losing profit. Would they have changed if the reception was more mixed? Would they have changed if it was a 50/50 split in the PS4 vs Xbox One polls? Would they have changed if the Xbox One pre-orders were closer to the PS4? Probably not, and that's why I'm not willing to simply forgive and forget.
Other problems still remain. Microsoft has proven with two consoles - the Xbox and the 360 - that they don't give long-term gaming support. The reversal of some of the Xbox One's draconian policies doesn't mean that Microsoft will suddenly start doing a better job of supporting their consoles.
There are still issues remaining with the Xbox One, and while I am satisfied that our protests resulted in Microsoft changing some of the Xbox One's features, this is simply the first step to winning back a lot of gamers' trust.