Cliff Bleszinski is one of the most outspoken members of the video game community. That is without question. I recently read a post of his that made it on N4G's hottest stories. Yes, I read through the whole post. Bleszinski mentions that, "Any idiot can go to quickmeme.com. Try writing a fully thought out article on a subject, like the folks at Polygon, Giantbomb, Rock Paper Shotgun, or Kotaku do". All right, Cliffy. I read your post and have my own opinions on how things are going with Microsoft in the next generation and how your approach has been.
It is true that Microsoft tried and unquestionably failed to have things their way with the Xbox One. How this occurred, however, was the result of Microsoft's complete misunderstanding of its consumer base. When Microsoft first got into console gaming, their only true experience with the video game medium was in PC gaming. Gradually, Microsoft implemented more and more PC and mainstream electronic features into their consoles.
The Xbox 360 is the most successful console they have. Their online service and multiplayer are held up to the highest standards by many gamers. Said gamers have called it "revolutionary". It is with Microsoft's Xbox One unveiling that many criticized them for adding DRM, mandatory online check-ins and Kinect sensor, and cancellation of supporting used games. This was Microsoft's biggest blunder next to their overemphasis of television and sports.
The initial reveal of the Xbox One yielded many confused responses as feature after feature being shown and mentioned only made gamers feel unwanted. A mere look at a couple games and a whole ten minutes dedicated to Call of Duty: Ghosts did little to impress gamers. The majority of that conference was focused on television, apps, and sports. Basically, things that gamers could care less about for their gaming console.
The following news of the multiple restrictions and policies only managed to infuriate gamers as Microsoft PR and representatives did their best to put out the flames. Their efforts were about as effective as trying to put out a real fire with gasoline. Their muddled and conflicting answers, along with a few displays of arrogance, led that fire to spread.
This is where Microsoft lost and continues to lose much of their audience. Microsoft failed to understand that console owners do not want half of the features they put into the Xbox One nor do they want to be restricted in their rights as owners of a piece of an electronic asset. This is what it boils down to: our rights as a consumer. Microsoft threatened that when they were going to force us to be online constantly, no longer share or sell games, and check in with their servers every day lest we don't get to play our games that we spend our hard earned money on. At that point, Microsoft and the Xbox One were labelled as anti-consumer.
With Microsoft's recent backpedaling of their DRM and used games policies, things seem to be going the consumers' way. Or is it? Microsoft could have just as easily reinforced their policies and pushed forward with them into the holiday season. What stopped that? Many say it was Sony. Many say it was how things are on Amazon. Many say it was the internet. I think it's all three.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what ultimately has happened: Microsoft have realized that their implementation of these questionable business practices will not garner them favor in the next generation. Yes, they are questionable business practices. No one likes (or completely likes) DRM. No one wants their rights of ownership taken away.
Well, except for the apparent gamers who say, "I don't really care. This doesn't affect me. I'll be glad to pay more money for this stuff". Like I commented before, if you were one of those people who said that, you should turn in your gamer card right now. One N4G user known as dedicatedtogamers had it right when he said that he "is afraid of people like you". I agree because "people like you" will gladly bend over and say, "Go ahead, Microsoft. I don't mind if you go in dry".
Bleszinski, you fall under this as well. For someone who says they are for the developer, you sure do support the most questionable business practices around. It is not just the piracy and the hackers who have led companies to utilizing these types of tactics on their consumer base and development teams. It is consumers who are blindingly willing to even accept those same tactics.
In this case, the majority of consumers (including Xbox gamers) said, "No". I am proud of that. I am proud that so many rallied together to tell one company that enough is enough and they won't be seeing a dime from them. The power of a large community should never be underestimated. Look at how the campaign against SOPA went. I feel, though, that something else is ruffling your feathers, Cliffy B.
Used games sales, perhaps? In your post, you mention about how you had participated in a Gamestop managers show in Las Vegas and shortly thereafter felt betrayed as Gamestop was promoting the trade-in of Gears of War 3. I understand that you're upset. However, people trade-in video games all the time. They also trade CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, and books for money and trade credit. Want to know why? Because they most likely have bills to pay or groceries to get or other games they want to buy. In retrospect, other consumers who don't make hundreds and thousands of dollars every two weeks can pay for used merchandise so they can be in on the circle, too.
Low income workers and people who intend to save money aren't the only ones in that group that Microsoft alienated. Military personnel serving abroad, residents in rural areas, and entire countries were practically ignored. There may be a glimmer of hope for them, but the still standing policies and even now defunct policies still sting for them and their decision in who to go with in the next generation.
My final thoughts about of all of this controversy is that Microsoft may have learned something, but they can still change a lot for both the better and worse. That includes bringing back DRM and locking used games completely. In an interview between Angry Joe and Larry Hryb (a.k.a Major Nelson), Joe brought up a point that DRM can easily be turned off to which Larry Hryb got very defensive and asserted that it isn't "that simple". Surprise, surprise that Major Nelson (like with Metal Gear Solid V) gets his facts wrong again. Guess it really was that easy to turn off DRM.
The bottom line is this: don't screw with the consumer. Microsoft telling us what the future of console gaming is and putting all of these restrictions on us is like a drunkard slapping a bull in the face while dancing poorly. Eventually, the horn will find its mark. Microsoft just seemed to be at the receiving end of that horn.