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Indie game dev, Videogame writer, Game enthusiast, Guitarist,

zerocrossing

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Xbox One back peddling marks gamer victory

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.

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HammadTheBeast1143d 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.

zerocrossing1143d 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.

Fireseed1143d ago

The Virtual Boy may want to have a word with you, but Neo-Geo keeps cutting in line...

zerocrossing1143d 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.

Sarick1141d 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_cake1143d 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.

zerocrossing1143d 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_cake1143d 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".

ravinash1143d ago (Edited 1143d 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.

zerocrossing1143d 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.

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thorstein1143d 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.

BillytheBarbarian1143d 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.

thorstein1143d 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.)

zerocrossing1143d 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.

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