I was gearing myself up to write an epic rant. I’m astonished at how stupid Microsoft has been. My Xbox Live account is “forever stuck in a corrupted state“, Windows 8 didn’t launch with the Start Button and the new Xbox One was about to be a stillbirth. Obviously realizing that Sony was about to eat their lunch, Microsoft finally woke up. Apparently, the next generation Xbox will not require a daily Internet connection to play offline games and limitations on selling used games have been removed.
Microsoft’s Don Mattrick, President of Interactive Entertainment Business, posted on xbox.com website to announce the reversal of policy. He stated…
You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.
This is good news for those that enjoy Xbox games, but don’t have a reliable Internet connection. Apparently, the Xbox will only require an Internet connection for the initial setup. The requirement of Internet access once every 24 hours has been removed. I rarely go 24 hours without Internet access. But apparently, lots of people do. This is not just about poor kids in mom’s basement, we’re talking about military men fighting for their country. It shows that Microsoft was a bit clueless about their customers.
This change is also good news for people that like to rent games or buy used games — especially the businesses behind such transactions. A $60 game is not cheap… not when compared to a 99¢ (or free) iOS game. So, without such discounts from rentals or resales, many gamers would be priced out of the action.
But is the damage already done?
I’m not really into gaming like I used to be. Instead of being excited about the next generation consoles, I don’t really see what’s so special. Drama like this doesn’t help to rebuild my enthusiasm. Of the three new systems, two have failed to impress me. The Wii U looks like a train wreak and Microsoft lost some serious coolness. That leaves the PS4, a system that’s $100 cheaper than the Xbox One.
These aren’t accidental issues like the Red Ring of Death, this is “Big Brother” in my living room kinda stuff. How can so many smart people make so many bad decisions? With Office replaced by iWork, and Windows replaced with OS X, I didn’t have much to get excited with from Microsoft. The only Microsoft product that I still thought of as cool was the Xbox… not Bing, not Windows Phone, not the Surface, not Internet Explorer and not even Skype. That’s too bad, because I think Google and Apple could use some healthy competition.
For a while there, it seems like Microsoft was trying to push the DRM garbage on gamers. Mattrick is on the record stating, “Fortunately, we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity – it’s called Xbox 360.” That doesn’t really match the same tone as now. That’s why I’m skeptical that this 180° is about making customers happy. Otherwise, my Xbox Live account would work, Windows 8 would have a normal start button and the Xbox One would have avoided this controversy.