Jun 19, 2013
Over the past few weeks, Microsoft have come under heavy fire for their 24-hour online check-in and stance on pre-owned games, culminating in what some blogs have been calling an “annihilation” by Sony at E3 last week.
In our post earlier this week, we explored “who won” E3, reflecting on both the policies Microsoft have taken and the way they handled them. While it is difficult to claim that any single company can “win” an event such as E3, there is little doubt which of the console giants came out of the show looking better in the press.
We concluded by exploring the concept that Microsoft would have to choose whether to change their policies or risk putting all their hopes for the console on it’s role as an “entertainment hub” for the living room – an untested market that may not even exist.
Clearly, Microsoft have decided that in order to ensure they keep a foothold on the hardcore gaming market – a market which has historically shown a lot of support for the Xbox 360 – they needed to backtrack somewhat on their more controversial policies.
The changes, announced in an update today on the Xbox blog, are less of a tweak and more of a complete 180;
- An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
- Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.
So what does this mean for their other policies?
Clearly it directly impacts a couple of previously announced “new” features for the next-gen console, including their original plans to allow sharing of games with up to 10 family members, and disc-less sharing of games, both of which will no longer be possible. Day one downloading of games will still be possible, however downloaded games will not be able to be traded, just like current Xbox 360 games.
This will be a popular move amongst Xbox supporters and the gamer community in general, however what does it mean for developers who were looking forward to creating “persistent” universes in their games, such as the E3-announced Sunset Overdrive from Insomniac?
Equally, backpeddling like this can only lead to an unavoidable loss of credibility and integrity for Microsoft in the short term, however it is likely to be long forgotten in the run-up to the console launch this November. By the time more gameplay trailers are being shown for some of the upcoming next gen games, policy changes at this point will be far from most gamers’ minds – the critical factor when it comes to sales figures.
Ultimately, this change in stance from Microsoft will once again level the playing field between the two consoles, leaving only price point as the outstanding differentiator for Sony. Whatever analysts and cynics may say about this controversial PR move over the coming weeks, come November it will be long forgotten in a sea of Halo and Call of Duty.