Microsoft, You Marketing Beauty
I can’t believe you, Microsoft. You know, you really had me going, there.
I feel like that disappointed person who thought that their partner had forgotten their anniversary, only to come home late that evening having resolved to climb into bed and block out the world at the soonest possible opportunity, to discover rose petals lining the floor, scented candles everywhere, and a romantic dinner awaiting me. And then rigorous, passionate sex thereafter… what?
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The elation is unreal. The relief, palpable.
It turns out that if you make a loud enough noise, you can actually make a difference after all.
Was this the plan all along, Microsoft? You lead us astray with some hardcore DRM policies that end up vilifying you so that we do all the talking for you, making you a venerable household name, to the point that even non-gamers are talking about your stringent policies; you go ahead and allow the competition to believe that they have the upper hand, all the while biding your time until finally, on the day that they slip up, in one fell swoop you drop the hammer and gain instant fame and success, and tip the balance forever in your favour.
Or maybe you were being a greedy anti-consumerist, corporate entity that was trying its luck to see whether it would be allowed to get away with it, and sure enough you had your supporters, even if they numbered in a minority, but eventually you decided that it was not enough and you were beginning to do more damage to your reputation than anything, so you called off the hounds, so to speak.
I don’t really care, to be honest, I’m just so very glad and thankful that you did.
Please excuse me for a moment, Microsoft, while I address everyone else in the room.
Now, to you gamers who are taking credit for this. Would you kindly fuck off? I’m serious. Do you think that gamers made this possible? When have gamers have ever bitched and successfully got what they wanted? Dedicated servers in Modern Warfare 2, anyone? I’ll come back to you hypocrite turncoats who immediately started praising the PS4 after E3, having been an Xbox 360 fan previously…
Make no mistake, and I don’t say this to toot my own horn — although I’ll come back to why I will do so regardless — it is the media that you should be thanking here. It was the media that put out articles and videos and expositions and critiques and so on, criticising the Xbox One while attempting to remain objective. (That last part is important.) It was people like Jim Sterling, TotalBiscuit, Angry Joe and so on, who really made the difference. They started informing gamers, they started breaking through to the very important non-gamers that MS were targeting with the Xbox One. They made the DRM policies employed by Microsoft out to be the worst thing for consumers since the holocaust, and you know what? They succeeded.
I cannot say for sure whether it was the threat of all those lost sales because of how many people, gamers or otherwise, were being cautioned against an Xbox One, or whether it was the threat of plummeting stock prices ever since Sony obliterated Microsoft in two minutes at E3 last week. Hell I can’t even say for sure if it was just pure anti-patriotism criticism and military pressure since the ever-worshipped American troops would not get to enjoy the Xbox One. I don’t know what eventually turned the tide, but I can tell you that we owe it all to two entities. One of those being media.
The other is Sony.
Allow me to now address Sony, for a moment. Thank you Sony. I want to say this from the bottom of my heart, because I really have nothing against you. As much as I am an Xbox One supporter, I am not against the PlayStation 4 in any way, whatsoever. I don’t believe that either you or Microsoft are truly looking after the consumer’s best interests and I will maintain that you were the lesser of two evils during the course of this DRM saga, but now that Microsoft have upped their game — no pun intended — I hope that you realise that you are now offering a package that is entirely unremarkable. Perhaps people might even start criticising your decision to charge for multiplayer.
I don’t really care, though, because right now, I am just grateful that you came out at E3 and told the world that you support used games and offline gaming, because if you did not do that, then I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Microsoft would not have ended up changing their policies as well. Or maybe I’m wrong, and it really was the plan all along. Only Microsoft’s executives know that, but if it’s true, then bloody hell that was an elaborate and well-implemented ruse.
Then again, maybe Microsoft are marketing geniuses after all?
You know, I want to stop for a moment and go back to the gamers in the room, specifically those of you who criticised and abused me when I cautioned against pre-ordering a PlayStation 4. I tried my best to be objective, I presented every viewpoint as best I saw it and I thought long and hard and wrote my ass off, with that article. I did not flame, nor unduly criticise. Yet I was called out for writing sensationalist “click-bait” bullshit, for presenting a whole lot of “if”s without any proof of such.
So now that we know, do I get to say I told you so, or will you all say it to me?
Because I did, you know.
I told you so.
Last night when the revelation first hit the internet that Microsoft had changed their DRM policies and were now allowing offline gaming as well as used games sharing, I will admit that I was a smug dick about all of it. Because goddammit I fucking endured abuse from some people, just because I supported the Xbox One and was willing to look for the positives in it. I never said I didn’t hate the DRM policies, but I tried to look for justifications for everything else, including the games sharing limitations. And I was pelted with angry words from gamers.
Some of you were actually Xbox 360 gamers, not too long ago. Then after E3, you all changed your tune and sang mighty songs of the PS4 in all its infinite glory.
How does it feel, painting yourself as a hypocrite now?
Coming back to the Xbox side of things, or sticking to the PlayStation, now that you’ve said all those hateful, hurtful things to people such as myself who dared to keep the faith.
And that’s exactly what I did. I kept faith with Microsoft, and last night, I couldn’t even believe it for a while, last night, they bloody well rewarded that faith.
So yes. I think I earned the right to be smug about this.
But let’s move on, shall we?
Let’s talk about the ramifications of all of this. From what we know, which by the time this publishes, could change, the Family Share feature is gone. This is obviously because now, games will need to have the disc in order to start up. It’s the cost of allowing used games, so really, it’s a toss-up. I was never against the idea of the Family Share and I felt that Microsoft tackling used games in the way they did, was both a functional and workable system. I mean at the very least, it cut out retailers, which in my book is a great thing. But obviously it didn’t appeal to the core market, so it’s gone now. A shame. I do hope that in future it is worked back in some form or the other.
The cloud is obviously still around, so that means that gamers will still be able to take advantage of it. And of course, we’re all going to need to log on at least once to download the day-one patch that removes all of the DRM from the console, but that ought not to be a problem, right? We all plug our consoles into the internet often anyway. That was never an issue. The issue was ownership. And now, we can actually claim to own our games. Which is great.
As far as where this leaves Sony and Microsoft, we can at least say that the console war is back on even footing, more or less. Both platforms charge for online multiplayer, both platforms allow sharing of subscriptions and free games for having those subscriptions, both platforms have streaming, cloud and sharing capabilities. The PS4 is cheaper for a basic unit, and boasts indie games, whereas the Xbox One bundles Kinect which brings motion controls and voice recognition for a slightly higher price, but will allow sharing of downloadable content per console.
From a truly objective perspective, which means fanboys GTFO, it would seem that the consoles are more or less on even footing, or stronger or weaker depending on your preferences. For example, if you just want the basic console with no added extras, then you might favour the PS4. If you want a console with a bit more than just gaming, then you might favour the Xbox One.
To that extent, I think that the true winners here are the gamers. Gaming in general, actually.
I do feel bad for the developers who will stand to lose out from the lack of restriction on used games, but that’s a topic for another time. Right now, I think I just want to gloat a bit more because you fanboys, you Sony fanboys and you Xbox 360 turncoats, you all laughed and jeered and spread your hater bullshit and now I hope you all take a lesson from this. Feel free to tell me how right I was, and how wrong you were, in the comments below. And before you start downplaying this with your own various interpretations of how this is actually a gigantic win for anything that isn’t the Xbox One, just stop right now. You’re just going to end up looking like an idiot. Again.
Oh, one more thing. This meme made me laugh.
Silly Major Nelson…