zerocrossing (User)

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"Video game journalist and gamer enthusiast."

Xbox One back peddling marks gamer victory

zerocrossing | 350d ago
User blog

So it's official, Microsoft have yet again revised their policies in regards to their next gen console the Xbox One, this time by removing the feature that makes the Kinect 2 a mandatory requirement for using the Xbox One console, something a great many gamers had issue with. With Microsoft now having done sufficient enough back peddling to power most of Europe for a year (Ba dum tish) I'm now left asking the question "Was it all necessary?" Just what was an intelligent, business minded company like Microsoft thinking when they knowingly went about dividing up their fanbase, and creating these unnecessary walls in the form of unfavourable business policies? only to later down the line revise almost all of their original Xbox One policies, seemingly solely due to the continued bad press and negative PR they have suffered since the Xbox One reveal and Microsoft E3 conference.

This all led me back to thoughts I had been having about Microsoft's inevitable next gen console. Months before the Xbox One was even hinted about being revealed, I was asking myself "what can we expect from Microsoft's next gen console?" would we see another Kinect even though the original failed to appeal to the core audience?, would Microsoft reach out for more 3rd party support and exclusivity?, and would they really have the nerve to continue charging their loyal customers through Xbox Live in order for us to play online?.

I eventually arrived at the conclusion that Microsoft's business model, and policies would see very little changes being made when moving into next gen territory, of course I expected some new features and new exclusives but nothing revolutionary. So then imagine my surprise when Microsoft finally did reveal the Xbox One along with what would shortly be dubbed as "draconian DRM" a mandatory Kinect 2, timed exclusives from 3rd party devs, always online functionality, and major changes to their policies in the form of used game restriction and 24 hour checkins, all while still having the nerve to charge a fee to play online.

I was taken back to say the least (like I'm sure many gamers were at the time) I thought to me myself that there is no way Microsoft can be serious, even after hearing from so many people who didn't at all mind the new policies, it was evident that those who apposed the DRM and other such policies were in the majority, and for good reason. The Xbox One DRM and other new policies had potentially damaging ramifications to gaming in general if they were to become the norm, then eventually the back peddling started and all the negative aspects of Xbox One became fewer and fewer, until finally earlier this month Microsoft announced that the Kinect 2 will no longer be mandatory in order to actually use the Xbox One. Finally! It seems like all the negatives surrounding Microsoft's new console are now gone, but then what does that mean now? Sure most of us have no reason not to get an Xbox One anymore, but other than the that fact most of the negative aspects like, used game restrictions, always online, and mandatory Kinect 2 are now gone, what exactly are Microsoft doing with the Xbox One that differentiates its from the previous generation? par a few new features that aren't at all relevant to "gaming" like watching TV and Skype. Personally the Xbox One just seems like a beefed-up Xbox 360 now right now, and the only reason I think I never noticed this before was because the negative policies were the few thing that actually seemed "next gen" or at the very least seemed to be more worthy of my attention. So then was this just a PR stunt? Could it be that all this negativity surrounding Microsoft's Xbox One was just used as a "Weapon of mass distraction" planed from the outset so that when all the back peddling was done, no matter how lacking in "next gen" appeal the Xbox One appeared to be when it comes to new features and functions (from a purely gaming related view point) it would be looked upon favourably purely because "Microsoft listened to their fans" and fixed everything we had a problem with? Well, I'll let you decide on that.

Now of course you could still argue that Kinect 2 is very much "next gen" and you'd be right in doing so, but it still stands true that the vast majority of gamers are uninterested in Kinect (or motion sensor gaming in general) or at the very least need proof that Kinect 2 can succeed in being relevant to core gaming, something its predecessor failed miserably at.

Cloud based gaming is worthy of mention in regards to "next gen" functions the Xbox One has, Microsoft has stated numerous times how "the power of the Cloud" can boost the power of the Xbox One's specs by the equivalent of three Xbox 360s, potentially making the graphics, processing and gameplay for games being played while the Xbox One is hooked up to the internet, superior to that of the competition. However even now we have yet to of seen any evidence that could validate these statement, with only certain individuals willing to state that it will "improve server quality" many others in the industry are saying Microsoft's overall vision for Cloud based gaming on the Xbox One is but a pipe dream.

Regardless of whether or not the Xbox One has any additional features relevant to gaming (I personally find the Xbox One controller's trigger feedback function to be very interesting) It should be mentioned that the Xbox One has some great exclusives and other equally great 3rd party titles coming its way, that reason alone is enough for most gamers to purchase the Xbox One, heck I myself will most likely be getting the Xbox One now that the Kinect 2 is no longer mandatory. But I'll always be wondering whether or not this whole PR stunt was manufactured to put the Xbox One in the lime light, even negative press is good press, or so they say.

So that's it I guess, maybe Microsoft did plan this whole PR back peddling extravaganza from the start, or maybe they really didn't see the consumer backlash coming due to their ambitious new policies. Either way we win, total victory guys congratulations!

Thanks for reading my blog, if you'd like to add anything or disagree with any of my points, please feel free to leave a comment.

HammadTheBeast  +   350d ago
Pre-orders were probably low. But I guess gamers did vote with their wallets this time.

We should be thanking Sony for pushing the competition.
zerocrossing  +   350d ago
I can't think of any console that got a worse reception than the Xbox One got after the the initial reveal.

Sony might have had something to do with by being direct competition, but in the end consumers spoke and Microsoft had no choice but to listen.
Fireseed  +   350d ago
The Virtual Boy may want to have a word with you, but Neo-Geo keeps cutting in line...
zerocrossing  +   350d ago
@Fireseed

Did people hate the Virtual Boy and Neo-Geo? I always thought they just performed poorly due to superior competition, that's not at like being hated for implementing crappy policies that were potentially damaging to the industry.
Sarick  +   349d ago
Yes people hated the Virtual Boy. It was gold monochrome graphics and gave most people severe headaches. Neo-geo was mostly because of the price and lack of games. I wanted one but I think it as roughly $600 back then.

So yea, Those companies made horrible mistakes that made the market upset.
deep_fried_bum_cake  +   350d ago
Victory is sweet. The always on Kinect thing was really the last hang up that I had about the Xbox One so it's now a bit more buyable (though I was gonna get it anyway).

I don't think that the backlash was a PR stunt because I believe that they are just that inept. If they truly meant it as a stunt then they wouldn't have come out with all of that 'deal with it' crap after the announcement which certainly turned fans away.
zerocrossing  +   350d ago
The only I issue I had was Kinect 2 being mandatory, now that that's been sorted out I'll end up getting an Xbox One eventually.

That's a good point if it was in fact a PR stunt then coming out with such statements as "Deal with it" wouldn't have helped Microsofts end goal, though to imagine they were that inept is a little worrying.
deep_fried_bum_cake  +   350d ago
Well I don't think they ever actually said "Deal with it" (or I hope they didn't) hence why it didn't double quote it but they certainly didn't react the right way and said stuff equivalent to saying "deal with it".
ravinash  +   350d ago
I don't think this was a PR stunt... at least if it was, it back fired badly.
It is good that these policies have been reversed to bring it in line with sony as it would have been bad for both gamers and the industry.
These changes seemed to have started very soon after the new management came in. The previous bosses seem to be very disconnected saying things like deal with it when word broke out about the always on line. As well as the quick exit of other bosses shortly after the Xbox One announcement.

Now that they are rolling back all the bad stuff that they have done, only time will tell if they come up with any new ideas that will benefit the console. (hopefully not damage it further).

hopefully new features will have the customer (Gamer) in mind rather than business.
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zerocrossing  +   350d ago
The thing that concerns me is, did Microsoft back peddle on the negative DRM and other features that where frowned upon, because gamers complained and wanted to do the right thing? or was it because they knew they had no other choice if they wanted to sell the Xbox One and are just altering its features to be more in line with the stiff competition presented by Sony?

To me there's a difference between a company changing their policies because it benefits consumers, and changing their policies because it benefits them. Where Microsoft stands here is anybodies guess.
abcde12345   350d ago | Spam
thorstein  +   350d ago
Two points of concern I have about this:

1) The console releases in a few months. Backpedaling means architecture and programing must be tweaked to accommodate for it. Is it going to be ready? Without problems? That is a very, very small window. You must figure that the actual X1s need be in production very soon. You can't undo architectural changes after production begins. This makes a launch X1 a gamble.

2) Creating a great game may take a few years. And launch titles or titles released near launch have been in development for over a year and a half. Developers that integrated Kinect features in their games (considering that it would be there and always be on) are now developing for a system that doesn't require it? So, now two months of coding Kinect features that were just made obsolete results in money and time wasted. Developers should be rightly angered by this.
BillytheBarbarian  +   350d ago
I don't think any publisher creates a game with Kinect features at the top of the list unless it's a dedicated Kinect title. Guitar hero/wii taught devs the hard way and Kinect will continue to be a tacked on after thought like madden or mass effect 3.
thorstein  +   350d ago
Not for the 360, certainly. But with the new Kinect (and even the new Move) I think there may be some things that could be implemented to regular gameplay like or menus that were implemented with the idea that kinect would be there. We don't know how much better the new kinect or move are going to be. But they do seem to be a step up from previous iterations.

BTW I didn't hit disagree.)
BillytheBarbarian  +   350d ago
Thanks man. Bubbled you up.
zerocrossing  +   350d ago
That's a good point, Microsoft probably spent years building the architecture of the Xbox One for it to be utilised the way they previously announced. Now with all the back peddling whose to say what potentially damaging ramifications this may have on their launch consoles.

Exactly, developers will now be wondering if theirs any point to developing for Kinect if not everyone is going to have it

Saying that though, I don't think Kinect should have ever been made an integral part of Xbox One to begin with. The old argument which states that Kinect will only ever be taken seriously by gamers, and implemented properly by developers is when it's bundled with every console, is just plain stupid IMO, Kinect will be taken seriously when Microsoft prove that it's relevant to core gaming, which thy have yet to have done.
MacDonagh  +   350d ago
I think that the shareholders probably held more sway at Microsoft than the gamers to be honest. What's more likely? The fact that gamers raged out on twitter with their hashtags and on forums or the 1% drop on stock price a full day and a half before the first hashtag of dissent even happened?

In all honesty, they truly messed up their first conference. They were so vague on what the system could deliver to gamers that it was no surprise that everybody threw their toys out of the pram. If they were more upfront with what their system could offer, then it would've posed an interesting issue for gamers.

Let's say for a hypothetical situation that they were more upfront with their DRM policies and blocking used games but they balanced out the cons with some pros like game sharing. Having an online library where you can download a game, delete it, download it again like Steam. If it also had an offline mode and you could play your downloaded content offline. If it was substantially cheaper to download those games compared to paying for physical copies and/or they had sales similar to Steam. If they released the information about the Xbox One being a development kit and that anyone can self-publish and you had the choice of using the Kinect camera or not.

As it stands now; both the PS4 and the Xbox One in my opinion are now very similar. The only genuine alternative is the console that no-one likes and that's rather disheartening.
zerocrossing  +   350d ago
Honestly I think Microsoft had more than enough opportunities to be open and honest about their new policies, people were probably harder on them given the fact that we've seen more than a few companies weasel in new policies, that end up causing more harm the good for the industry (Online passes comes to mind)

If Miscrosoft had any real faith in them to begin with they would have found a way to push forward, like you said all they needed to do was show us how it's in our best benefit for them to incorporate them, the reason I believe they they didn't do that is because those new policies only benefited publishers and themselves in the long run.

The way I see it now, every next gen console (meaning the PS4, Xbox One and Wii U) have something going for them, but it'll take about two years or so until they reach a good stride.
MacDonagh  +   349d ago
I think Microsoft really screwed it up very badly. From where I'm sitting, the Xbox One didn't have a very clear vision in mind and even the people in the company didn't know what the damned thing was supposed to be. Without a clear objective of what the Xbox One was supposed to represent; it resulted in it being unpalatable to the wider public and unsellable because of the massive confusion and distrust that it brought forth. That isn't even taking into account of their involvement with the PRISM issue which didn't help at all.

The worst thing now is that both the PS4 and the Xbox One look very similar to me now. Even John Carmack says as much and I sadly have to agree. There isn't much that is separating them now and they roughly do the same.
_FantasmA_  +   350d ago
Micro$oft and listening to consumers go together like car oil in a bowl of cereal. Its your money they are after. Yes I know what you repliers will say: "Sony is in it to make money too." Yeah but they don't rape my wallet to get it.
MacDonagh  +   350d ago
Hey. Remember that time that Sony shutdown the PSN servers and lost the bank details of their customers?

Sure they may not rape your wallet but they will sodomise your bank account if you're not careful. All companies want to rape your wallet. Don't act like Sony or any other company don't do it or are somehow "above" such behaviour. These are corporations we are talking about here. Not something that is worthy of worship or defending.
_FantasmA_  +   350d ago
Stop bringing up the hacking incident. Not everyone was affected and if you can buy PSN cards, why would you use your credit card? I never use my credit card unless I have to. Besides they made it up to gamers by giving away top tier games for PS3 and PSP to keep forever. I would have never known about Infamous if it wasn't for that incident. M$ would probably give you 5 M$ points or a free Doritoes avatar and then raise the price of Live so they can make their system more secure.
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MacDonagh  +   349d ago
@_FantasmA_ "Stop bringing up the hacking incident. Not everyone was affected and if you can buy PSN cards, why would you use your credit card?"

Because there was an option to? A lot of people were affected by that incident and Sony knowingly ignored holes in their security infrastructure that allowed for the mass stealing of their customers user logins and credit card details. That's a fact and lest we forget the past; we are doomed to repeat it.

"I never use my credit card unless I have to."

Unless it's not something that directly affects you; it's isn't an issue? How great for you.

"Besides they made it up to gamers by giving away top tier games for PS3 and PSP to keep forever."

PS+ isn't free last time I checked. They are not even "your" games. You're just indefinitely renting them until you decide to not renew your PS+ subscription.

"M$ would probably give you 5 M$ points or a free Doritoes avatar and then raise the price of Live so they can make their system more secure."

I know right? I'd much prefer to have a Coke Zero instead.
Kryptix  +   346d ago
The games that Sony gave after the online blackout were actually yours to keep forever. So why did you even bring up PS Plus? Anyway, you don't own the movies in Netflix but that doesn't stop people from renewing their subscriptions and enjoying those "rented" movies.
MacDonagh  +   344d ago
@Kryptix "The games that Sony gave after the online blackout were actually yours to keep forever. So why did you even bring up PS Plus? Anyway, you don't own the movies in Netflix but that doesn't stop people from renewing their subscriptions and enjoying those "rented" movies."

Sorry. That was my mistake because a month of PS+ was offered along with the free (old) games as paltry compensation to the customers.

Also on your last point; you're paying for the privilege for playing the "free" games made available by Sony's PS+ service. Indefinite rentals are what they are. Not saying that it's not a good service but I much prefer owning games than not.
zerocrossing  +   350d ago
Sony have been a lot more respectful of their customers whilts traversing into next gen with the PS4, but that's probably due to hard lessons learnt with the PS3 during launch.

Microsoft most likely won't make the same mistakes again either.
jairusmonillas  +   350d ago
Microsoft most likely would make the same mistake again and again.

Windows Vista and Windows 8 proved that.
jairusmonillas  +   350d ago
This is why you shouldn't support Xbox One, they got comfortable with the success of 360 and they thought they can force everything they want. With that attitude they can do whatever they want once they got you to buy xbox one and you can't do anything about it especially if you already invested alot for Xbox One games and accessories.

You've been warned. Don't be surprised if they patch DRM back again once the fanbase are up. This is Microsoft we are talking about, they want to force things they are doing all these 180s not because of consumer feedbacks but because of ps4 preorder destroying xbox one's preorder.
DaGR8JIBRALTAR  +   350d ago
I don't buy used games,console always on and connected was no biggie to me,I don't travel with my xbox or lose connection to the internet much.My two main issues were:having to rip every game to the non-expandable hard drive and the mandatory kinect. Now that those issues have been alleviated I'll spend with Microsoft,but then again,should I? It still boggles my mind that they even tried to pull this bullshit in the first place. They've been in the gaming buisness too long not to have seen the backlash coming.
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