I recently asked if Microsoft was pulling a “Windows 8” with the new Xbox One, with them apparently once again stubbornly making very unpopular decisions, this time restricting usage of the new console that was damaging sales and market share. The mass media and users in general spoke, and it was not pretty. For example, I heard yesterday (second hand) that a local store was pre-selling 45:1 PS4:Xbox One.
Instead of waiting for vNext of Xbox (which would have been really bad, like Windows Phone 3% market share bad) Microsoft made some policy changes before the Xbox One release, as Paul Thurrot reported.
While a vocal minority are unhappy with the 180 degree course change on these policies, that vast majority (including me) are happy. Now I would also like to see the price come down by €100 by unbundling the Kinect because I am sure that will be a factor when people buy these devices – not everyone is a hardcore gamer that’ll pay no matter what, and few people have room to even use a Kinect (we don’t all live in Redmond-sized mansions).
Is the policy change too late? Is the damage already done? Every mass media outlet has already declared the PS4 as the winner when the scandal broke. Only some of the tech press covered the policy changes that were announced yesterday. Xbox One is set in the minds of the general, non-tech-media-reading consumer as the inflexible, locked-down, and consumer-unfriendly media-playing-first & games-second console (which is 5 times more expensive than a Roku media player and does little more than a smart TV in the media context). I think Microsoft are going to have to spend a lot of money to recover from the awful original policy decisions. And someone’s head needs to roll for this.
What sort of vacuum were the Xbox group in when they thought that always-on for daily activation and restricted games trading would be OK with the market? Who didn’t give negative feedback internally? Who was the yes man? Who was deaf to criticism? Was this a symptom of the “always be positive” culture that infects parts of MSFT even when the car is racing towards the cliff? Some folks in MSFT hate what they see as negativity and want everyone to be rah-rah-rah with the impending doom no matter what, thinking that cheerleading will turn things around.
The policy changes are now enough for me keep my Xbox One pre-order, I think. I’m actually not sure. I have a funny feeling that I’ll continue to spend more time on my Xbox 360 thanks to GTAV and I will continue to use my reliable and simple Roku as the media device (Xbox Live is almost worthless outside of the USA for online media and ropey as a file player). Maybe I will cancel the pre-order and wait for the inevitable post-Christmas price cuts and for games I actually want to appear.