Following the new policy change for app access on the Xbox One, due to go into effect on June 9th, Joystiq decided to do a proper follow-up and ask if more than just apps will be eligible for the paywall addendum, such as MMOs and free-to-play titles. Well, the simple answer is no.
If you're bothered to find out why MMOs and free-to-play games, such as Elder Scrolls Online or World of Tanks, will still require an Xbox Live Gold subscription to access, check out what Joystiq was told...
“According to Spencer, Microsoft "hasn't changed its policy" on MMOs and free-to-play games. Spencer added that some games include "engineering constraints, policy constraints and partner constraints in each one of these scenarios."
In some regards, that does make sense, but it's also kind of bull. I mean, if Digital Extremes manages their own servers and eats the costs of operation for a game like Warframe, why exactly do Xbox One owners have to pay to access a free-to-play game when they can access it for free on PC and PlayStation 4? This becomes even more relevant given that Warframe is expected to arrive on the Xbox One, but if it's going to be behind a paywall then it's a complete waste of an effort.
It's still a methodology that excludes potential niche demographics, and niche demographics is how the PS2 won its generation. Including and making accessible any and every kind of genre, sub-genre and esoteric game idea on the PlayStation 2 made sure that Sony hit every potential gaming enthusiast out there and then some. They seem to be replicating their PS2 success with the PS4, just adapted to this new era of gaming.
Free-to-play games are huge; it's a massive demography for huge cash flow. Why not make it as easy as possible to tap that audience? Sony didn't even need to go through any painstaking zetetic processes to find out what's working and what's not in the world of interactive entertainment. Their goal is simply to provide all sorts of quality titles in a good manner of quantity.
Microsoft still hasn't learned that precluding an audience with an unnecessary paywall won't help them grow an audience (or audiences) that they desperately need if they hope to stay competitive with the PS4, especially with Sony's massive sales lead.
On the bright side, at least the company is recognizing that they can retroactively gain brownie points with spurned members of the Xbox community by offering up refunds to those who purchased year-long subscriptions to access apps that will soon be free-to-access, such as Netflix, Hulu or Twitch.
As reported by Eurogamer, the updated FAQ regarding the new policy change states...
"Once the Xbox One and Xbox 360 system updates become available in June, Xbox Live Gold members who purchased a paid membership before that day can cancel and receive a pro-rata refund of any unused remaining days between the date of cancellation and the date their paid Gold membership ends.
Well that's good news for anyone who unfortunately decided to pay $60 just to access Netflix on a system where you can at least access the app any and everywhere else for free.
I'm not going to go off on a diatribe about the inanity of the previous policies, but I will say at least Microsoft is correcting some of their anti-consumer measures, which is a step in the right direction.
Now they'll just need to start doing something that's actually worth the price of admission for the Xbox One to make it a console worth owning, because even following the price cut it'll still be a lesser gaming machine than the Wii U and PS4.