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Microsoft abandons Xbox One’s anti-consumer policies. Everyone makes predictable Xbox One-Eighty jokes

June 20, 2013, Author: Andy Corrigan, 10 Comments

It’s no secret that Microsoft have been under a lot of pressure from a large, vocal portion of the gaming community since they revealed some questionable policies pertaining to the upcoming Xbox One. Many folks, myself included, felt that the Xbox One would ultimately inconvenience the user, assume them as dirty pirates thanks to its need to regularly check in with Xbox Live, and owners would find themselves limited by the hefty restrictions on what you can do with your game once you’d finished with it.

Following their reveal, the constant question dodging, vague statements and contradictory explanations from different areas of the business have done nothing to reassure or appease potential buyers.

Presumably, the pre-orders haven’t exactly been flying off the virtual shelves then, as Xbox’s Don Mattrick has announced via Xbox Wire that those restrictions are now officially history…

“We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds.”

“Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback.” says Mattrick. “I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One.”

“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.”

“So, today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. Here is what that means:”

An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.

Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.

Ironically, the ability to play offline indefinitely has to be enabled by downloading a day-one patch… The post also explains that this U-turn does mean an impact on some of the Xbox One’s previously touted functionality, leaving downloaded titles unable to be shared within a household or resold onto friends, and the console requires that games bought on disc be in the system to work.

That said, I don’t understand why the ability to freely share your disc-based titles with friends should have any impact on a new system designed to allow you to lend or sell your digitally-bought games. Plus, seeing as it’s up to publishers to allow that functionality and whether it comes at a discretionary cost, I’m not sure that it’s as big a loss as is being made out. Especially not when compared to what rights you’d have lost under the previous rule set.

Unfortunately, while this is definitely good news, it has zero bearing on my decision to pre-order a PS4 earlier this week. Microsoft may no longer be trying to control a market that they and their bedfellows don’t particularly like, but they still tried  to enforce some shitty policies and smugly expected their audience to swallow it. That’s simply not something I’m looking to reward by being the early adopter I would otherwise have been.

The positive thing to come out of this entire mess is that despite what some major corporations believe, it’s the consumer that still holds all the power when it truly counts.

Comments (10)

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  1. Phil said:

    Bad day for console gaming in my opinion. The long term positives of the original concept far outweigh any perceived consumer rights issues (which I never bought into) or the short term plus the turnaround allows. Also, I believe this shows MS in an even more negative light than the original announcement as they had states their belief in the digital future and X1's ability to deliver on that and now they've caved and basically said they will sell us another Xbox 360 for £400.

    The scare mongers win again while the visionaries have to wait for the rest of the world to catch up to their higher level of thinking. We will all look back in 2 or 3 years and realize how wrong we were

    Posted on: June 20 10:43 AM || Report || Reply

  2. Andy said:

    If anyone at MS truly believed that, we wouldn't have had that announcement. The masses - not scare mongerers - spoke and MS yielded. Rightly so.

    I think the idea that this prevents them from crafting a way to sell on digital games is an absolute kop-out. They could easily still have a system in place for that. The fact they've abandoned that altogether tells me a story.

    Posted on: June 20 11:14 AM || Report || Reply

  3. Neil H said:

    If that's the case Phil, then we will all be asking Microsoft for these features soon enough. They can take their time now and get the final proposition right instead of lambasting and confusing us all with their new and imposing policies, that we, as you say, are just not ready to adopt.

    The cynic in me says they couldn't actually successfully execute such a wide-scale implementation in the timescale anyway and a degree of back tracking may well be due to the fact the technology isn't quite ready for deployment yet. I do not mean that in a nasty "microsoft are rubbish" way, far from it. I believe that an application to manage and handle the required level of transactions and data takes years to get right. Given their flip-flopping on many of their policies and lack of straight answers, simply points to a lack of final requirements. It's not like anything we've seen elsewhere and yes it is forward-thinking and we've certainly not heard the last of these features from MS.

    Indeed, if it is as forward-thinking as you suggest and not just because of grubby fingered suits that want our souls in a Bullfrog Syndicate kind-of-way, then we will be asking them openly for the "lost" features that today, we're being made to feel guilty about losing. On our knees, please, oh please, Mr Microsoft Sir, please give us those features we didn't know we needed. I dont think we should be sad about it, far from it, at least they've indicated that they have ears. We should rejoice that they have alledgedly listened, because if they are listening now, then they will have a far stronger following going forward.

    Posted on: June 20 11:47 AM || Report || Reply

  4. AndyB said:

    I think more than anything this shows that being prepared for an announcement, and fully understanding why you're doing something before talking about it are very important! This whole mess has come about due to mixed messages and MS being either unwilling or unable to clarify what they were doing or why. A clear message from the start regarding their online plans about sharing digital content would have saved them so much trouble but by the time that came out, it was buried under an avalanche of negative press. I don't remember the positive side being mentioned for a long while and by then it was just too late. I do think their approach was still wrong though and their arrogance was unbelievable. Make no mistake, this move was 100% about money, not consumers.

    I think they had to make this move but even now the loss of faith is massive, and many seem even more disappointed in MS now just as you are Phil. I have to agree agree with Andy that there must be a way of enacting their download-based plans without having the DRM in place for disc-based games though. For example, why not make the online check in optional for those who want to use the features, but lock them out for anyone else. And only tie it to downloads, keep the disc requirements for retail games. Then everybody wins, including MS. But if they'd thought it through from a customer perspective in the first place this is what they would've done from the start and it would have been a huge selling point!

    All-in-all, this just goes to show how important planning and good PR are... It's going to take a long while for MS to recover from this.

    Posted on: June 20 11:53 AM || Report || Reply

  5. Phil said:
    Andy wrote: If anyone at MS truly believed that, we wouldn't have had that announcement. The masses - not scare mongerers - spoke and MS yielded. Rightly so.

    I think the idea that this prevents them from crafting a way to sell on digital games is an absolute kop-out. They could easily still have a system in place for that. The fact they've abandoned that altogether tells me a story.

    Yes it does. It tells a story that MS have panicked with the uproar created by Sony and flamed by social media and gaming websites. This decision, more than anything previous has proved those that criticise MS for putting profit ahead of all else are correct.

    I've always said I understand why people were concerned by the online thing but that the resale "issues" just weren't there. MS and 3rd parties never said you couldn't or that they'd charge for trade ins. People just took the drm thing and assumed that was the reason for it.

    I and many others have understood the benefits of being able to trade digital copies and I have tried to explain how this future proofing would be a positive for the console gaming public on previous comments but it seems my point has been badly worded or just not understood.

    The bottom line here is that above all else console gamers have shown they are simply unable to understand or just aren't ready for the positives that a digital world gives us. They have spoken and they have won but unfortunately there are a large number of console gamers, all be it an apparent quieter minority, that now lose what could of been one of the most important and coolest developments in console gaming for a very long time.

    Posted on: June 20 1:24 PM || Report || Reply

  6. Neil said:

    The sad part of this is that I suspect Microsoft have not "Listened to Feedback" at all but its more about what Sony are doing and pressure from publishers and share holders.

    I do feel for them because every-time they open their mouth they make things worse, this latest U-Turn just left people thinking Microsoft were almost being spiteful and saying "Here you can play used games but we are taking away the nice cool shiny stuff too, but hey that's what you wanted" So the die hard Microsoft fans who have actually been looking forward to the new changes are now also alienated and disillusioned.

    They seem to be clinging to the past and milking users with the old fashioned license models that helped make them so much money 20 years ago, but the world has changed and moved on.

    They revealed a devious, untrustworthy and indecisive side combined with possible the worst marketing campaign ever and that kind of damage is hard to undo.

    I'm a massive Xbox fan but this latest news is not going to win too many new friends due to its transparency.

    Posted on: June 20 1:50 PM || Report || Reply

  7. Andy said:

    I've read from some knowledgeable folks that the family sharing thing for up to ten folks in your household was a bit of a lie. Sharing was on an hour-long timer, then a prompt for your family member to buy. There's no source on that, so pinch of salt, but I don't doubt the folks I've read that from.

    Phil, I think you're focusing too much on ONE possible positive and not realising what you'd have been giving up in return for this, which amounted to nothing but greed. User inconvenienced while MS fills the pockets of their industry chums.

    The story it tells is that that they were prepared to go back on their position, not panicked, you can't panic this way so close to launch. That's how confident they were in their own policy. If they truly thought they were doing their policies for the good of the people as you seem to think they were, then this absolutely would not have happened.

    There also seems to be this misconception that their old policies would have killed the used-game market, and these notoriously greedy organisations would suddenly start shitting bargains on all of us from their ivory towers. No, what would happen instead, is that the consumer loses their right to use their product as they please, and MS take all the profits instead of EB/Gamestop etc. It's all about control, and that would have been the shittiest thing to ever happen to the console gaming market.

    Posted on: June 22 5:51 AM || Report || Reply

  8. Phil said:
    Andy wrote: I've read from some knowledgeable folks that the family sharing thing for up to ten folks in your household was a bit of a lie. Sharing was on an hour-long timer, then a prompt for your family member to buy. There's no source on that, so pinch of salt, but I don't doubt the folks I've read that from.

    Phil, I think you're focusing too much on ONE possible positive and not realising what you'd have been giving up in return for this, which amounted to nothing but greed. User inconvenienced while MS fills the pockets of their industry chums.

    The story it tells is that that they were prepared to go back on their position, not panicked, you can't panic this way so close to launch. That's how confident they were in their own policy. If they truly thought they were doing their policies for the good of the people as you seem to think they were, then this absolutely would not have happened.

    There also seems to be this misconception that their old policies would have killed the used-game market, and these notoriously greedy organisations would suddenly start shitting bargains on all of us from their ivory towers. No, what would happen instead, is that the consumer loses their right to use their product as they please, and MS take all the profits instead of EB/Gamestop etc. It's all about control, and that would have been the shittiest thing to ever happen to the console gaming market.

    I've seen plenty of articles that refute that claim about the sharing and suggest it would of been FULL sharing. There will be plenty of to and fro about it but it's irrelevant now isn't it.

    As i've said I get why people questioned the consumer rights thing, personally I didn't see the negative and I KNOW I wasn't alone on that. I also got the trading and sharing of DIGITAL copies, something that has not been done on console before and would have been a major selling point for me. Again it doesn't matter now, does it.

    The big issue now is this. Whether you agreed or not, liked it or not the thing that set the Xbox one apart from the PS4 and made it an alternative option is now gone. That is Fact. Now the choice is seemingly Kinect or not and if you have a 360 with Kinect where is the reason to invest the money on the new console?

    The u-turn is much more likely to push me to Sony than any perceived issue about trading my games and I've heard a lot of people saying that too.

    Posted on: June 23 11:21 AM || Report || Reply

  9. Andy said:

    Like I said, no reason why they can't still implement a trading system for digital copies. No reason at all.

    Posted on: June 23 12:19 PM || Report || Reply

  10. Phil said:
    Andy wrote: Like I said, no reason why they can't still implement a trading system for digital copies. No reason at all.

    Technically, no but they have said they won't at this time at least because of the uproar. Hence why I and many who had pretty much decided on X1 are a little peeved.

    Posted on: June 23 2:25 PM || Report || Reply

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