XBONE – Sad Face

Here’s a link to an anonymous Microsoft employee (allegedly) explaining what they gave up when they rolled back their DRM strategy.  I’ll go over a few parts I find worth discussing.

We didn’t do a good enough job explaining all the benefits that came with this new model.  We spent too much of our time fighting against the negative impressions that many people in the media formed.

Extremely accurate.  There was not an ounce of positive spin for anything MS was pushing.   Quite the opposite.

Many will argue the development system is broken, and I disagree.  The development system is near broken, it’s used gaming that is broken…

“Many” being actual developers themselves.  If selling over 1 million copies at full price is a loss (Amalaur), it is not used games sales that’s the problem.  Used games are a symptom of the problem, pricing and value.

First is family sharing …  The premise is simple and elegant, when you buy your games for Xbox One, you can set any of them to be part of your shared library.  Anyone who you deem to be family had access to these games regardless of where they are in the world.  … When your family member accesses any of your games, they’re placed into a special demo mode. This demo mode in most cases would be the full game with a 15-45 minute timer and in some cases an hour.  This allowed the person to play the game, get familiar with it then make a purchase if they wanted to.

First, not anywhere in the world, only a place with online access to XBOX Live and an account active.  Second, I do this today by handing a copy to my brother and he has an unlimited demo.  Third, many games today have demos or videos to show how the game is played.  Do people really buy games blindly?

I stand by the belief that Playstation 4 is Xbox 360 part 2, while Xbox One is trying to revolutionize entertainment consumption.  For people who don’t want these amazing additions, like Don said we have a console for that and it’s called Xbox 360.

And this is really the crux of the matter and where I think there is the largest disconnect between the audience and the provider.  The XBOX (and the Playstation) are gaming platforms.  Gaming platforms have existed “as a thing” for nearly 40 years and have had only minor changes over that time.  The core process is the same though there have been additional services layered on top.  I have a game, I have a controller, I have a TV, I have a couch.  I can bring the console on road trips.  I can play my friends games when he comes over.  I can play with headphones on when my S/O is in the other room.

The XBONE broke all of that and didn’t sell an upside.  Here’s what could have helped.

The family program would have been great if they had access to your games without a timer.  DRM would have been acceptable if prices were lower.  DRM would have been excellent if there was a digital used game marketplace.  DRM would have been OK if you only needed to check in at first install.  DRM would have been OK if you only lost multi-player functions while offline.  DRM would have been acceptable if you provides 2-3 use case examples.  DRM would have been fine without region restrictions.  Kinect would have been acceptable if you could turn the thing off completely.

None of those features existed.  Whatever benefits the console may have had, each one of these items combined to make it a deal breaker for the general gaming population.  A revolution happens when there is a need for it.  When things are desperately bad.  You don’t impose a revolution.  If you try to, then you get exactly what Microsoft has been getting for a year (including Windows 8) massive and un-ending backlash and perhaps a revolution you didn’t want.

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