Having been a fan of computer games for many years (work has unfortunately taken it away from me in recent times), I have watched with utter amazement at how one company can throw away its reputation so quickly. I am of course talking about Microsoft, who for many (myself included) had become the major player in the industry – back in 2005 they managed to convert me from an avid PS2 fan by being early to the market, having some good exclusive titles, and a great service in Xbox Live. This is confounded by the fact that even though I went through 2 Xbox’s due to the red ring of death, I was still willing to go back and get another one. Then this happened:
All that goodwill, vanishing right before them. Who on earth thought it would be a good idea to require you to have an internet connection at least once every 24 hours or else your machine no longer plays games? Who thought it would be a good idea to try and prevent the ability of sharing ones games? Hence making the purchase of a game no longer a purchase, but a rental instead. Who thought having to have an always connected Kinect camera was a good idea? Especially with the latest news on the NSA in America.
But back to the first point of the online verification every 24 hours – as we have seen many times before, when games have an ability to play online, after a number of years the servers supporting these are taken offline. This is understandable when the number of players playing them are reduced, and the cost might be outweighing the benefit – but you can still play them offline. But one thing I love to do is take out one of my old consoles and play around with it for awhile – be it my SNES, Nintendo 64, or PS2. What happens in 10-15 years time when we see the next generation of consoles emerging, will Microsoft start to turn off their servers for the Xbox One, and therefore prevent me from being able to show my kids my old console and make my game “rentals” obsolete? This is a very frightening thought – shelving out hundreds (even thousands) of euros for something that could be shut down anytime in the future, with very little notice.
And then came Sony, with what I have to describe as one of the easiest E3 presentations imaginable – the following clip is 2 minutes and 39 seconds of how to make your biggest competitor look like a fool:
Obviously Microsoft is trying to get a share of the profitable second hand market of games, but as one commenter put it “if car companies tried to control the used car market by introducing finger print sign-ins to their cars, how long does the company think they could survive?”. It certainly does appear that Microsoft, possibly due to greed, really have bitten off more then they can chew, and I imagine this morning there are a number of heads rolling with the feedback they are gettting. And what is worse is I’m not sure there is a way back – it would be very difficult to just turn around and say “oh we made a mistake and will change everything back to normal” – they have their whole next generation console built on this architecture, as well as some contracts with other players, so it isn’t as easy as just changing their minds. And to end, here is another clip that will make you wonder just what are Microsoft thinking?: