Microsoft and Pitchforks

ByCharles Bunn

Microsoft and Pitchforks

Microsoft never seems to be far from some sort of spite whether it’s the poorly designed security of Windows, virtual disdain for open source (I think they compared it to communism at one time…), or being the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room. They reached a new low recently with the announcement of the Xbox One. Microsoft arrogantly assumed that it’s dominate position in consoles would allow it to dictate what the customer wanted. Personally, that seems to be one of the big problems at Microsoft, they don’t really innovate they just want to dominate. Apple is refined the art of innovation and integration, funny thing is I have problems with Apple because of their closed system, but that’s another blog. Well I was excited as my son was when I saw the demo footage of Titan Fall at E3 2013, that is until the fine print was read…

The reaction from my teenage son was, well, something I can’t even print. Let’s just say he was pissed off in a big way. Even more surprising was the comments coming from my early twenties daughter that I didn’t even know was a gamer; fathers are always the last to know, she was as equally upset. The theme common between them both, they would never buy another Microsoft game or console ever again. I am thinking, holy cow this is the teen that made me take him to midnight release parties for several of the Halo games. What in the world has Microsoft done to piss off these teens and X-Geners. By now it was coming clear this was just not limited to my quirky family but there was an army forming. Soon I was reading commentaries and blog full of spite and hatred (gamers can get a little emotional at times). I had to do a little investigating before my son and daughter went out the door with torches and pitchforks.

What had Microsoft done to earn such vile, well there were several things. First an internet connection was required to play Xbox One games, and after 24 hours the game would be disabled, yikes. On top of that the online check-in would only be supported in twenty-one countries and the system would be region-locked. The DRM system enforcement required the check-in to ensure you were on the up and up.  Second Only Microsoft-approved retailers would be able to sell used games. I should have been paying closer attention and shorted GameStop’s stock, after that announcement. Third, indie game developers (can you say small shop, small budget and almost no marketing) will be required to pair with a 3rd party publisher to distribute their games on Xbox One’s marketplace, or make a deal directly with Microsoft itself. Holy bat guano Batman big brother has come to town, what do we do? Titan Fall was supposed to be the talk of E3 instead it was these crazy controls. In one day Microsoft had angered every gamer, X-Gener and even the military deployed overseas. They poured gasoline on the fire when a reporter asked what the soldiers overseas would be doing and Don Mattrick, president of the company’s Interactive Entertainment division,  said “Fortunately, we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity; it’s called Xbox 360,” Mattrick said. “If you have zero access to the Internet, that is an offline device.” Ouch…

Competition being what it is Sony instantly realized what Microsoft had just dropped in their laps. They immediately went to task pointing out how their next generation console would have no such controls. Then the wave hit, preorders for the Xbox One started to slow on Amazon and Sony’s console started to gain the upper hand. Wave after wave of complaints filled in and in the end Microsoft realized their big mistake. They quickly removed the 24-hour connection requirement and the used games sales restrictions. Later they removed the third and opened up the development market for indie games. There actually is a fourth issue and another backlash I did not mention, primarily because they are still unresolved. The price of the Xbox One was set $100 higher than the Sony console at $499 because of the inclusion of the Kinect camera and microphone where built into the new console. Oddly enough there is a move to push Microsoft to resume the restrictions they originally planned, as they are necessary to allow a form of cloud based game sharing that Microsoft had come up with (something similar to what Steam does on the PC), and you thought we were the only banal generation. For now my son and daughter have put down the pitchforks and are oohing and awing at the resolution and complex game play made possible by these next generation consoles. The torch is still burning though, as they are less trust worthy of Microsoft more so than ever, I say that since Microsoft managed to undue years of trust building they had done with their console in only a single day. Somehow I don’t think my son or daughter will forget this, and that they wonder if at some time in the future Microsoft might try it again with and unsuspecting update. So for now they look in wonder at the products coming out but seethe with resentment at what Microsoft thought they could pull over their eyes…

About the author

Charles Bunn administrator

Chuck is the founder and Owner of Zypath LLC. With over two decades of experience in computer and networking systems, he specializes in small business communication design, setup, troubleshooting and maintenance.