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So the next xbox is nearly upon us, but before Microsoft has even announced what it's actually going to be called, many have already decided not to buy it. Why? Well that's a question a lot of potential customers have been yelling at their computers for some time now, but I think it's worth reminding ourselves just how Microsoft has got itself into such a mess.
It's hard to picture how things could've gone worse for the next Xbox (I'll just call it the Nextbox for now) over the last few months. With the console wars heating up again, there has been relentless interest in what the two gaming superpowers (sorry Nintendo) will do next. What has resulted from this pre-launch scrutiny will have lasting implications for the coming generation. While no company can control internet rumour and and rampant speculation, they would all be wise to pay attention to it and, if necessary, dealwithit. From where I'm sitting, this is where Microsoft has gone wrong.
Let's face it, the current bad feeling towards the Nextbox is largely as a result of two unanswered questions; "Do I have to have a persistent internet connection?" and "Can I play used games?". To date Microsoft's official answer has been a long, uncomfortable silence. Now I can understand why they wouldn't want to pre-empt their own announcement. Console launch events are carefully staged, multimedia events and the frenzied analysis of every detail revealed is a big part of them. The problem this this approach however is that if there is one thing the internet can't stand, it's an absence of information. This is why there have been persistent rumours, veiled comments and "reports from anonymous sources" that all hint at likely possibilities. Over recent months, these rumours have come to suggest that the answers to the earlier questions are "Yes, you do" and "No, you can't". It is this which has enraged many gamers.
To be fair to Microsoft, there is every chance that these answers are completely incorrect. It may be that the Nextbox has exactly the same approach to always-online and used games as the Xbox 360. However even if this how things turn out, it may already be too late. Such is the strength of feeling around the way Microsoft has handled these concerns, that no matter what the announcement holds they have already alienated a section of its potential market. This is something that Microsoft can ill-afford. With the Xbox 360, they massively increased their share of the market compared to Sony. The PS2 was by far the dominant console of its generation; this gen was a much more even split, but putting off a whole chunk of the market off of buying your next console before it's even announced is not a good move for even the most successful company. With Sony having already confirmed that used games will work on the PS4, it makes Microsoft's silence even more apparent.
Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if Adam Orth hadn't shot his former employer in the face with his now infamous tweet. But even then, Microsoft had the opportunity to clarify exactly what approach the Nextbox would take. Instead, in the face of mounting rage and confusion they continued to say nothing. But now there has been what appears to be a leaked internal memo from Microsoft that states that internet connection will not be required for "playing a Blu-ray disc, watching live TV, and yes playing a single-player game". Another leak to add to the pile perhaps but despite everything, I still find it difficult to believe a constant internet connection will be required. That said, I completely believe blocking used games to be a distinct possibility and one that would heavily influence my decision on what console I would prefer to buy in the future.
It is perhaps unfortunate that a console has been judged by so many before it has even had its official announcement; but if the Nextbox has been knee-capped before it's taken its first steps then Microsoft has to shoulder most of the blame.
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May 7, 2013 5:34 pm GMTmadjack1812 posted a new blog entry entitled Has the next Xbox already missed the boat?
Apr 6, 2013 10:40 am GMTmadjack1812 gave BioShock Infinite a score of 9.5
Mar 11, 2013 11:38 pm GMTmadjack1812 gave Mass Effect 3: Citadel a score of 8.5
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