Sony’s PlayStation 4 has no ownership destroying videogame DRM, Microsoft’s Xbox One has no ownership destroying videogame DRM and for the first time in several months there is a relative degree of tranquillity across the videogame industry. The torches have been doused, the pitchforks returned to the shed and the armies of disgruntled gamers have disbanded. We can all sleep easy in the knowledge that two of the largest names in videogame history, Sony and Microsoft, truly do care about us, the consumer.
The hubbub really kicked off back when Microsoft originally announced the Xbox One with only a few vague hints at the “industry changing”, DRM laden, online based features its new wonder-box would bring. This all came to a head once Microsoft finally revealed, via the cold and heartless Xbox One website, that the console would indeed feature everything we feared it would.
As the fevered discussions of used games, “always online” and DRM raged on, the angry mob began to focus on Sony, the PlayStation 4 and the biggest videogame industry event of the year, E3 2013. With Sony’s mouth kept shut regarding their fans’ burning issues, many began to fear for the worst.
And then Sony changed everything.
In reality, Sony changed everything by doing absolutely nothing. The company openly shrugged off the entire idea of online chick-ins and publisher driven used game sale monitoring. Sony gave its fans the very news they so desperately wanted to hear. So strong was their message that even the most die-hard Xbox fanboy couldn’t help but listen up.
Then, after a brief moment of silence interspersed by a range of somewhat questionable comments by Don Mattrick & Co., Microsoft gave in and followed suit. Microsoft dropped all of its anti-consumer Xbox One policies because, as proudly displayed on the official Xbox One website, “Your feedback matters”.
Quite frankly, you’d have to be a fool to believe that Microsoft have altered their policies for the consumer and the consumer only. The reason behind such a dramatic u-turn is likely to be the same as that for Microsoft’s original policies: business relations.
Even if Microsoft wasn’t conferring with major publishers as it put together its always online, used game and sharing technologies for the Xbox One, you can bet Microsoft thought it’d have major publisher support once it announced these technologies. And somewhere, someone predicted that the majority of customers would be okay with it.
But news of the Xbox One managed to spread itself much further and much deeper than Microsoft had anticipated. Then Sony blew Microsoft’s policies out of the water with the aforementioned PlayStation 4 E3 2013 conference. And one must remember, E3 is a trade show meant to capture the interest of potential investors as well as assure business partners that their investments are safe.
Microsoft got “feedback” alright. Between E3 2013 and the DRM-dropping announcement Microsoft probably had to defend itself from concerned investors, disgruntled used game retail chains and indecisive publishers who feared for having their reputation tarnished along with Microsoft’s.
Regardless of Microsoft’s change of heart, it would have implemented every single one of the anti-consumer Xbox One features they intended to if there hadn’t been such a negative reaction. The fact is, the people making the big Xbox One decisions at Microsoft had originally decided that these features were good for them and their business partners.
So before you go ahead and splash out on an Xbox One pre-order, think about who Microsoft’s “customers” really are. Because it’s certainly not you.