Since its announcement back in May the Xbox One has caused a lot of controversy. Whether it was the limitations on used games, the online checks, the change in lending or all of the above, everyone had something about the Xbox One that they did not like. It was limiting gamers, it restricted what we could do and we did not like it. We wanted to be able to lend a game to a friend, to trade in our games once we were done with them & what seems to be most important, we wanted to be able to playour games even if we could not get online, which is a very real scenario for many people.
Fast forward to just prior to e3 and many of the new policies became clearer.
- Used game trading would still be available but up to the publishers to allow it or not. It would only be at select retailers, but its safe to assume that the big retail stores would have had it, although I did feel sorry for the small independent stores who might have lost a lot of money dueto the new policies.
- We would be required to check in online once every 24 hours on our console or once every hour on another console otherwise games could not be played. Better than the always online requirement but still a terrible move.
- Selling games would be all but gone, allowing us to gift a game to someone that we had been friends with on Xbox Live for more than 30 days. But that game only being able to be gifted once.
But not all of it was bad:
- A shared games library between 10 family members or friends, allowing them to access your games anytime, even while you played. The only restriction, 2 guests could not play the same game at the same time, but the main user and a guest could, effectively giving consumers 2 copies of a game for the price of one.
- Removing the need for constant disc swaps, allowing you to switch between retail games on a whim.
- Cloud computing, giving the Xbox One higher processing power leveling the playing field with Sonys better quality RAM.
So in that one announcement we were given new abilities that gamers had never had before, while in the same breath we had rights that we have had since home gaming creation stripped from us.
Was it worth it, was what we gained worth what we lost. The gaming community responded with a resounding No!
Within minutes of the announcement the internet was flooded with people claiming these new restrictions being the death knell for the Xbox One. Things only got worse for Microsoft come e3 when Sony publicly called them out. Showing that the Playstation 4 had none of the limitations of the Xbox One, providing us with every right as a gamer & consumer that we have now. On every social media network, on every gaming site, on every gaming blog on every gaming YouTube show people declared Sony the winner of e3 and of next gen. Microsoft had been punked on the biggest gaming stage of the year & had to do what they could to try and salvage it.
Fast forward to June 19th, Microsoft release a statement announcing that they are dropping their restrictions. We, the gamers, will get what we wanted. We can trade/lend/sell games however we wish, we will not have to check in online once a day just to play our games, we fought to get our rights back and we won. Whether it was the vocal outcry of the community or the fact that PS4 preorders were beating Xbox One preorders 8 1 or both, we wont know, but in theend, we won.
But what have we lost?
It could be argued that we lost nothing and gained back everything we have lost. But we seem to have lost something that Microsoft had been striving for, that if implemented correctly would have given them an edge in the Console Wars & helped the gaming industry as a whole move forward.
What we lost today, was Innovation!
In every Playstation 4 announcement & in Microsofts announcement today once phrase rings true. Everything is just like you have now with the PS3 & 360. Its the same. We are gaining better graphics, more memory & in general, potentially better games, but on the whole what does the industry gain going forward. What true innovations have we got now that the Xbox One will be the same as what we have?
Their logic and ideas were sound. Have your own identity, your games were yours regardless of where you are, your library is at your fingertips whether at home, at a friends place or visiting family. Your library could be shared amongst those closest to you, removing the need to lend discs. I could lend my copy of Assassins Creed IV for Xbox One to a friend in Europe without batting an eyelash. I could play COD: Ghosts online with a friend who couldnt purchase the game. I could visit my cousin and have all my games there at my disposal without having to haul around my entire gaming collection. The goal of the Xbox One was to create a unified gaming community & experience, but what we had to sacrifice was far to great, the way Microsoft implemented their new systems were flawed and because of this, we fail to take that step forward with innovation.
All it would have taken was a few tweaks to the system, to be open with the gaming community & media, not trying to hide what they were doing and Microsoft could have had something great, but instead they are either seen as a company backtracking on flawed business practices because of the potential profit loses or abandoning their vision to keep up with the competition. Very few see them how they are portraying themselves, as a company who listens to their fan base, whether this is the case I can only guess, but once people started voting with their wallets Microsoft stood up and took notice.
If only a few things were different, giving us the option to enable these features or keep to the disc based system. Give the consumer choice, not restrictions. Even something as simple as allowing the discs themselves to verify the game if we could not get online using that to block multiple installs as opposed to just not allowing anyone to play. There needed to be a middle ground, they couldnt strip us of our rights, but they did just that, and today they saw their flaws. And instead of trying to innovate, they settled with the status quo. The Xbox One is just the same, and while things are just the same, they can never go forward.