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The Xbox One has been on the receiving end of multiple policy reversals. Microsoft has taken the time to publicly address that the console is adopting more pro-consumer and pro-developer policies. However, many journalists and Microsoft supporters are wondering why the community has not warmed to Microsoft's attempt to assuage them... well, it has nothing to do with the Xbox One per se.
Just recently Microsoft made it known that they would be altering their controversial policy of blocking independent developers from self-publishing on the Xbox One. Anyone who has been paying attention to the market trends of the gaming industry can easily tell you that the future of the next generation is entirely in the hands of indies, especially with the rocky and financially disastrous route that the AAA market has taken.
However, not everyone was feeling Microsoft with the policy reversal. Instead of being met with cheers and applauds, there was a lot of “Well that's good and all, but I'll wait and see.” Gamers didn't readily change their stance on pre-ordering the Xbox One over the PS4, and polls since the reveal of the Xbox One have never shifted from being solely dominated by Sony... even after Microsoft did the 180.
Some journalists have taken to praising Microsoft after doing a spinaroonie on their DRM policies, saying that they're now excited and that it's all about the games and not about the consoles, as illustrated by Crave Online writer, Paul Tamburro,
Similar sentiments have been expressed across the interwebs: It's not about console politics, it's about the games.
Although, should I need to remind these “gamers” that you don't have games to play if the policies prevent you from playing?
Microsoft had basically instituted the very form of DRM that turned many Blizzard fans against them when they made Diablo III always-on, resulting in countless consumer related issues I need not recall. Microsoft's DRM also followed closely on the heels of the much maligned SimCity case, where EA learned the hard way that forcing people not to be able to play the game they paid for by having poor server support is a surefire way to end up as the two-time running Worst Company in America.
Microsoft's Xbox One didn't get booed out of EVO just because of “angry Sony fanboys”, it was gamers who felt like they had been kicked in the gut and abandoned, while at the same time many gamers couldn't believe that they had nearly been on the receiving end of policies that would have put a finite lifespan on Xbox One titles: one-time license deactivation from the user, no rentals, Kinect always being on, 24-hour check-in and games only available for as long as Microsoft's servers were up. I mean, what kind of gamer says “A-okay” to that knowing that one day when the servers shut down, just like they did with the original Xbox, they'll lose all their games?
It's almost the equivalent of parents coming in, taking all the toys out of a their kid's room and replacing it with a coloring book, then saying “Anytime you want to play with your toys, you'll just need to ask us once a day and we'll unlock the closet so you can play with your toys. Until then, stick with your coloring book. Oh yeah and there's a camera in your teddy bear... deal with it”.
Games had been put on the back-burner and sidelined for television, sports and Kinect 2.0. It was as if gaming was no longer a top priority and gamers no longer mattered. It was heartbreaking for those of us who dearly supported Microsoft throughout the years since they brought the Xbox to the market back in 2001.
Even after Microsoft changed their policies and restructured the company, gamers are sticking to their guns because of Microsoft's noncommittal approach to gaming: it's just some little pastime they could turn into a service with an on and off switch. Even worse yet, the company never clarified their stance on the longevity of their server support, something that waned early for the original Xbox.
Throwing around marketing buzzwords for features that are present in just about every modern day device and calling it “the future” didn't blind half as many gamers as some marketing managers may have thought. And disguising the “digital future” under the worst forms of DRM did not convince informed gamers one bit. This is why you still see people angry and pissed at Microsoft and not necessarily the Xbox One.
The thing is, an always-on (or daily-on) service means that eventually that service will end, it's not a matter of 'if' but 'when', and when it happens you have a generation of gaming lost to the ever-fleeing moments of time.
Could you imagine if all PSX, N64 or SNES games were tied to a master server that eventually shutdown? You would lose access to a library of an entire generation of video games and that is why people were and still are, so pissed at Microsoft -- that the company would even consider it and fail to recognize or acknowledge the concerns of gaming culture is almost unforgivable in the eyes of many. There's also that little matter of Kinect.
The only way Microsoft could redeem themselves is if they get serious at GamesCom and acknowledge game culture the way Sony and Nintendo have, and commit themselves to the brand that so many gamers have committed themselves to. It's not hard and it'll only save them face for the console war that lies ahead.
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