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The Internet Just Made Microsoft Kill a Car for a Faster Horse (medium.com)
228 points by thisisdallas 1101 days ago | past | web | 201 comments



Try hard as they might, it's impossible to make those "features" sound good.

This one is especially amazing: "You could re-sell your physical disc game to Gamestop or any participating outlet that opted into Microsoft’s revenue sharing system." Gee, thanks, Microsoft! It's not like those outlets will pass the cost right onto the consumer or anything (oh wait, they will). It's incredible how the Xbox team thought, "Look at that money over there. Let's take it!" What's next, Wal-Mart charging Ralph Lauren every time a customer comes in wearing a Polo shirt (because why should other clothing companies get free advertising in their store)?

The other issue? For the author to be completely honest, every "benefit" mentioned in the article should have "for a fee" added to the end of it. It's not very fun or innovative to get nickeled and dimed every step of the way. The fact that the public received 3 different messages about digital sharing costs (the three being no cost, a small fee, and the full price of the game) didn't help matters, either.

Another issue I had with the digital system is with the games themselves. Most critics of physical media on Xbox One mention the iOS model, but fail to note how Xbox One is different from it. If I download an app on my iPad, it instantly shows up on my iPhone and my iPad mini, ready for use. I don't have to pay any extra usage fees for multiple devices. The apps themselves are in the $0-$10 range. Most importantly, most apps run in the 5-50MB range, so downloads are quick and my apps are ready to go in minutes. Compare that with Xbox One, where games are likely to be in the 10-20GB range and $60.00 (formerly with fees for sharing and resale). If you consider sharing to be going over to a friend's house, entering your password, then waiting 3.5 hours for a download to finish to be in some way innovative or interesting, then you are clearly not the target market for this device. Gamers want instant gratification, not waiting around for downloads and jumping through hoops.

The last point I want to make is this: the author, Jason Chen, is a fool if he thinks that replacing one black box in front of a TV for another is in any way comparable to upgrading from a horse and buggy to a car. The DRM-laden, no-money-left-behind nature of Xbox One in the context of tech in 2013 (a jungle of price fixing, nickeling/diming, credit card storing, and "convenient" subscription modeling) is precisely the status quo that consumers are finally revolting against.


>It's incredible how the Xbox team thought, "Look at that money over there. Let's take it!" What's next, Wal-Mart charging Ralph Lauren every time a customer comes in wearing a Polo shirt (because why should other clothing companies get free advertising in their store)?

Could you explain this analogy because it makes zero sense to me.

>The other issue? For the author to be completely honest, every "benefit" mentioned in the article should have "for a fee" added to the end of it. It's not very fun or innovative to get nickeled and dimed every step of the way. The fact that the public received 3 different messages about digital sharing costs (the three being no cost, a small fee, and the full price of the game) didn't help matters, either.

Could you link to the three different sharing cost messages?

>Compare that with Xbox One, where games are likely to be in the 10-20GB range and $60.00 (formerly with fees for sharing and resale). If you consider sharing to be going over to a friend's house, entering your password, then waiting 3.5 hours for a download to finish to be in some way innovative or interesting, then you are clearly not the target market for this device. Gamers want instant gratification, not waiting around for downloads and jumping through hoops.

I would imagine they would allow you to play parts of the game without needing to install the whole game, similar to Steam.

>The DRM-laden, no-money-left-behind nature of Xbox One in the context of tech in 2013 (a jungle of price fixing, nickeling/diming, credit card storing, and "convenient" subscription modeling) is precisely the status quo that consumers are finally revolting against.

How is it different than Steam, other than speculating that Microsoft would never aggressively discount games as much as Steam does now (even though it took them several years for their store to be well-liked by gamers)?


> How is it different than Steam, other than the point than speculating that Microsoft would never aggressively discount games as much as Steam does now

They don't allow developers to self-publish, and Valve is privately owned by a benevolent dictator who won't be prone to public investor pressure for short term quarterly profits. People trust Valve to do the right thing.

Microsoft on the other hand has a history of just shutting down their DRM servers without making it right for the customers who bought into their DRM'd products.


> Microsoft on the other hand has a history of just shutting down their DRM servers without making it right for the customers who bought into their DRM'd products.

Source? Microsoft is incredibly well known for supporting products int he long term. They only shut down Xbox Live for the original Xbox in 2010. And Windows XP is still infamously supported.


MSN Music http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2008/04/drm-su...

"The news will likely upset a number of Microsoft's customers, who bought music from MSN Music before the company launched the Zune Marketplace and decided to ditch the old store. Microsoft's decision to turn off the MSN Music authorization servers serves as a painful reminder that DRM ultimately severely limits your rights. Companies that control various DRM schemes, as well as the content providers themselves, can yank your ability to play the content which you lawfully purchased (and now, videos) at any moment—no matter what your expectation was when you bought it. Some Major League Baseball fans learned this the hard way last fall."

I wouldn't trust anything from Microsoft where in order for it to keep working, it would have to phone home to MS DRM servers. MS will eventually shut down those DRM servers without giving their customers a solution to use their DRM'd products post-shutdown.


They turned off the MSN Music DRM Servers! People that bought there lost the ability to transfer their music away from their device.

I sometimes play games that are many decades old, and as anyone that collects games knows, consoles tend to live shorter than physical game copies.

So what am I going to do with a Xbox One in 20 years after the DRM Server were turned off?

Hope that the console never fails so I don't lose my complete collection? (If the failure rate for the last two Xbox generations is any indicator, chances are slim)


> I sometimes play games that are many decades old

Thats one thing steam is actually pretty good for, its got lots of older games (some from the early 80s!) that generally just work on pretty much any modern PC.


By Steam you mean GoG, they don't even have DRM on them, but they update the Windows installers so they work. Though I have to criticize their lack of the Linux ports of the old titles =\


Are you going to pay for the developer to do that? It's just lucky that Steam is supporting Linux at all nowadays.


I'd definitely buy another copy of Neverwinter Nights if it ever got the Linux version on GoG.


That is true, but I also pay much less for a Steam game on average, than I would pay for a Xbox One game (usually 69.99€ in Europe, which is ~90$), which also reflects that I buy a (possibly short lived) license.

Also, it's probably much easier to backup and play your Steam games on a PC, even if Steam wont be there forever, than it would be with such a locked up system like the Xbox One.


When what's being created is a timeless piece of art, 10 years is not long-lived support. People still play NES games, and I want to be able to play my current gen games 30 years from now.


And I'm sure there's some sort of long term solution that would disable the 24 hour check (which obviously doesn't need to happen anymore) when the authentication servers were to be decommissioned.

This isn't Microsoft's first rodeo.


Yeah, even if they did, how are you going to use your games once your Xbox One is defective and you can't transfer your games to another console, because the DRM servers were turned off?

Edit: I don't accept a solution where I just have to hope that they will do something that enables me to play my games once the authentication servers have been decomissioned.

If I buy something, I want to know upfront what they will do, and it has to be guaranteed, not just a PR statement.

It has to be part of the TOS and I should be able to hold them accountable if they do not deliver.


I guess you're not going to use any company then, because nobody I know has that in their TOS. Promising that upfront is just a bad business decision.


I can buy a PS3/PS4 or WiiU game that can be played without any online connection or authentication on any number of consoles. (In case one fails and I need a replacement console)

And how is it a bad business decision to ensure that a customer can use his collection even if all auth/DRM servers are decomissioned?

This is the "bad business decision" that was made for every single big mainstream console since the invention of video games, and it seems obvious to me that the customer demands this, and MS understood it.


My Kin studio and Zune say otherwise.


IIRC Zune still works, since Xbox Music is a rebranded Zune Marketplace. Even if it doesn't, it's a device, it doesn't need internet.

The Kin is partly Verizon's fault, really.


> just shutting down their DRM servers without making it right for the customers who bought into their DRM'd products

This can happen to provider, and is one of the reasons why I stay away from Steam games.

Many times within the last couple years, I've been ready to purchase a game, then walked away when I saw Steam is required.


"How is it different than Steam, other than speculating that Microsoft would never aggressively discount games as much as Steam does now (even though it took them several years for their store to be well-liked by gamers)?"

The main difference is that Steam is an OPTION, not the ONLY WAY.

I can get most of the games on Steam off the shelf, either used or new, as a physical copy, or from another digital source (even indie games have most of the time the option of buying a digital copy from their site).

It's a forced comparison: there are ALREADY services, both for xbox and PS3 that do exactly what Steam does, that is to say, provide games as a digital downloads, as an alternative to pysical copies. Steam makes it very convenient to use their service, but it's not something that is forced on you.

What Microsoft was planning was removing any choice. If they come up with a similar service that is convenient and with actual benefits respect to the normal way of doing things, people will start using it by themselves, without it being forced on them.


Is STEAM an option?

Only if I do not wan to buy certain games. Two games I bought in a big box store REQUIRE a Steam account to play. Perhaps you have heard of the Civilization series?

More than once when Steam had a problem or I had one with my provider I could not play certain games off line. I don't like Steam, I do not like the idea I have to have their permission to play a game I paid fifty bucks for and have the physical media for. If I had known it would not let me play without an internet connection I would never have bought it. When the label stated "Requires an Internet connection" I figured it was for multiplayer only.


"Is STEAM an option?"

It is.

If certain games require it, then it is something forced by those games, not by the service itself.

Just as those "off the shelf" games that are account tied, as Diablo 3 or Starcraft 2, it does not imply that all physical games are account tied.

An exception does not a rule make, while in the case of Microsoft that would have been "the rule".


> If certain games require it, then it is something forced by those games, not by the service itself.

So you don't buy games that require XBox One?

You had a choice before. Now that choice has been removed.


That choice was removed because the company felt that too many people would do exactly that.


It's interesting, because in this whole thing I've noticed that there's a reason that I am ok with Steam on my PC when I'm not ok with digital downloads for a console.

Primarily, it's because of the kinds of games that are released and played on them. On PC, I have games that are inherently ALL about the online experience, games like TF2, DOTA 2, League of Legends, Starcraft 2, Counter Strike, ARMA, and many more. These games (from what I've seen) make up the biggest contingency of PC games, and they all "fit" within Steam and it's business model very well.

However, on console you have an entirely different type of game: the game as a story. These kinds of games make up the bulk of the console market, games like Uncharted (1, 2, and 3), the Bioshock series, the Mass Effect trilogy, the Far Cry series, the God of War games, etc. Even just the way you label them (series, trilogy, etc) shows the difference: these are static creations.

Ultimately, on a platform that most people use to consume STATIC pieces of content, why do we need to be chained to some other service? Why must I have an internet connection to enjoy a great single-player experience?


That might be correct for you, but it's not really for most gamers.

Each year the annual COD release on consoles is huge on consoles (bigger than on PC). FIFA is similarly huge in Europe. Halo, one of the biggest console exclusives, is praised at least 50/50 for it's single/multiplayer content. Online gaming is a big part of console games, even if it isn't for you.

At the same time, most of the games you mentioned as single player experiences are available on PC. Plus many (I'd say most, even) PC-exclusive titles are heavily single-player focused.

Obviously, this doesn't affect your personal reasoning, but I don't think it's shared by many people.


Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout, Just Cause 2, and Civilization are just a handful of mostly single player games I saw scrolling through my library that I and I would guess most gamers would prefer to play on PC even though they're also on consoles.


The majority of the games that you listed for console are also available for PC (on Steam).


> How is it different than Steam...?

The short answer is that the digital aspect of the two is similar, if not the same: digital games are sold once and can be used anywhere the user can log in to the account. That seems to be the same both before and after Xbox's 180.

The biggest difference is in the analog aspect of Xbox One. Steam doesn't have a physical sales component - it was created specifically to avoid that scenario. Xbox does though, but because it forces analog sales into a digital construct (via forced installs of games - not a bad thing necessarily, just a design decision they made) it forces the analog component to function by the same rules as the digital sales component.

Going all digital was always a choice with clear positives and negatives. You could avoid the negatives (one being no resale, for example) by sticking with physical discs for certain games. It was always a decision. However with that design decision to force the analog into the digital construct, Xbox one wanted to remove that choice.

With Xbox One's prior rules, physical copies of games could only be sold once. That's it. Then it would require an additional secondary sale to Microsoft to function. And the primary sale could only happen to select retailers. That's breaking what's understood and expected from that optional analog construct due to design decisions, without providing any additional value to the consumer.

Yes, forced installs allows mimicry of the all-digital experience and adds a certain amount of convenience, but doesn't allow any advantages beyond the all-digital experience. Certainly not enough to make up for the lack of choice in forcing consumers into a suboptimal construct.

The key here was subverting customer expectations and taking what used to be a choice and trying to A) force it into what MS preferred, and then B) trying to monetize that. It reeked of a money grab because it added no new value beyond what was already available via digital sales while removing established value for consumers.

tl;dr: It's different than Steam because Steam is one all-digital service while Xbox One tried to force all physical and digital sales into following the same ruleset as an all-digital marketplace.


You keep saying "analog" when I suspect you mean "disc" or "physical copy"? You're talking about a discrete physical item (thus digital by definition) which has a game stored in digital format...

I fear that I sound like the language police, but really, your comment was already fairly complex before I had to puzzle over what you meant by "analog" and "all-digital" as if this device had a coaxial output to a CRT TV.


How is it different than Steam, other than speculating that Microsoft would never aggressively discount games as much as Steam does now (even though it took them several years for their store to be well-liked by gamers)?

On Steam I can play my games while being offline, I can play my games on multiple computers (the games are bound to the account, not the computer), I have good prices, I can install and deinstall games as much as I want, the amount of choice is incredible and last but not least if I don't use my account for one year and log in again, all my games and savegames are there.


On Steam I can play my games while being offline

xbox one check.

I can play my games on multiple computers

xbox one check, well multiple xbox ones.

I can install and deinstall games as much as I want

xbox one check.

I have good prices,the amount of choice is incredible,

Have you checked the prices on Amazon's digital downloads? Out side of steam's sells they are almost always better. On steam, prices don't fall like they normally do in the other retail channels. So post release period steam is almost always more expensive than other channels. Who knows about xbox one digital selection? It being a PC under the hood would have made it trivial to port everything on steam over(if porting is even necessary).


> I would imagine they would allow you to play parts of the game without needing to install the whole game, similar to Steam.

afaik steam does not do this, is it a recent feature?


I don't know of this feature either. Maybe it's a reference to demos?


Some of Valve's games will download the engine/binaries first then the levels after in order so you can start to play the game while it is still downloading. I have personally experienced this.

Also: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14004...

>>Apparently some of Valve's singleplayer games let you do so.

> Yeah, some do such as Half-Life 1 where it'll prioritize downloading of the binaries first, then the levels.

> Granted it makes for long load times if you hit a level transition for a map that's still downloading.

> Granted, the list that support that 'feature' are slim.


> I would imagine they would allow you to play parts of the game without needing to install the whole game, similar to Steam.

What games on steam do that? I've literally never seen that. Unless you mean like seperatation of single and multiplayer, but those are both still rather big.


Half-Life 2 (or so i remember)


Are you referring to the episode 1, episode 2 stuff? It's just a bunch of different games, that were released seperately.


> How is it different than Steam?

It isn't. DRM is DRM and it sucks. I mostly stay away from Steam. Multiple times, I've walked away from purchasing games when I saw they required Steam. I've never taken my current-gen consoles online.


> If you consider sharing to be going over to a friend's house, entering your password, then waiting 3.5 hours for a download to finish to be in some way innovative or interesting

MS is playing the long game. The console will probably be around for 6-7 years. Back then my internet connection speed at home was about 6Mbit, today its 100Mbits and a download of 10GB usually takes about 20 minutes, so i would really love to do as much digitally as possible. Granted internet speeds arent like this everywhere, but in a few years time they probably will.


I have 100mbit, and while steam can fully saturate it there is definitely a (not too long of) wait for the larger games from 20-40 min.


Releasing something with the strategy that it will be convenient to use for most people sometime during the lifecycle of the console seems like a bad idea. I would think that they would want to sell most of their consoles in the beginning to build momentum around the ecosystem.


I really doubt you'll have to download the whole game before playing. MS has been working on progressive download of binaries for a long time. The last couple versions of Office would let you start using the apps in a couple of minutes, and it would prioritize downloading whatever features you were using. It's pretty smooth, and they've been licensing it for games for a while (under the PlayReady platform).


This really just looks like sour grapes from Microsoft to me.

There's no reason they couldn't have both...

Buy a physical disk? Trade use it like you always have, but you don't get to make use of all the fancy cloud features.

Buy your game online? You'll need to phone home every once in a while (24 hours was a bit harsh, maybe more like 1 week), and you can't trade it like physical media, but you get the fancy new lending features.

Decide you like the new way better? Convert your physical copies into 'cloud' copies and throw out the disks.

Problem solved.


The problem with convert to cloud is that it would require every Xbox to go online in order to check with the mothership before running the game, even from a disk. Otherwise you'd be able to share the disk with offline users who could continue using the physical copy.

They had two choices:

Require an internet connection before running a game. (the 24 hour check)

or

The disk must be present at all times.


You're thinking a bit closed minded. There are other ways to tackle the problem depending on how user friendly or user unfriendly you want the console to be. For example:

1. Converting to cloud could require users to trade in the physical disk at a local store for a digital CD key. A pain for users but by making this a known requirement up front, users won't be able to complain about it and it may convince users who are on the fence to just get the digital copy from the start.

2. Require all games to have a CD Key (acts as the same key for converting to cloud) and a small footprint installable component. Tell users that you don't need an internet connection to validate but if you do connect to the internet, the Xbox One will periodically "phone home" and check to see if your CD keys are legitimate. It won't stop sharing the physical copy after converting to cloud, but it would make it much more of a hassle and prevent multiplayer games from being shared easily. Bonus for users who are converting - the digital version of the game can be installed via the disk so they don't have to wait to download the game to convert it to the cloud. This would also make reinstalling much faster so long as users keep the physical copy.

There are many other possibilities that have been mentioned already so I'll stop here. Just note that this isn't an either or situation. There is a lot of flexibility here.


You're still thinking inside the box a little. Gamecube used a variety of patented format cds and encryption keys stored in a small area of the cd for their copy protection. [1]

Or, you know, just turn off the always-online or check-in-each-24h requirement and just lock down the hardware from sideloading games onto it. Even without that, something tells me people would still buy games.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo_optical_disc#Nintendo_...


You could mail them the disk, and maybe a small processing fee. They could then destroy the disk and convert the license token to a digital copy. It would cost the customer, but since they could have bought a digital copy in the first place it seems fair.


Sounds nearly identical to the Vudu / Ultraviolet model for DVDs.


So, rather than sharing with up to 10 people it's now 11 (and the 11th can never go online, because the key for the disk has been burned)?

Alternatively, sell your physical disk used and buy the digital copy off live.


The digital sharing would've only allowed for one user to play at a time.


Not if everyone phoned home, then cut the cord every 24h.


The ones who borrowed from others had to check in every hour.


Sounds like politics. I'm sure we're not hearing the whole discussion. There's nothing stopping a Steam-like DRM option to link a game key to your account or a Steam-like offline mode once you've authenticated once. These schemes are not some fabulous new invention. They have been implemented in the real world for the last decade. If you like them, I suggest buying a Steam box.

Analyses like these seem to forget how much the software of consoles has changed over the last few years. This next generation likely to evolve much faster. The hardware is already obsolete, and it hasn't been released yet. The software is what matters, and it will change. Both Microsoft and Sony have clearly stated that they intend to grow their server farms and make them integral to the experience. So whether you're connecting to Smartglass 2.0 or iPSN, the experience in seven years will not be the same as the experience today.

I found physical media authentication unnecessarily cumbersome in the 90's. It's pretty funny that it's still necessary in some cases, but that's DRM. Too bad that just offering incentives for connecting to official servers isn't the standard means of encouraging legitimate sales. People are lining up for content they could easily get for free on services like Netflix, Spotify, and Steam because they provide superior experiences. I've never downloaded a legally questionable game copy, but I'm still not interested in these backward console DRM schemes, whether through fragile optical discs or constant surveillance. I can do better elsewhere. But I'm looking forward to what they come up with next.


It would be an extremely safe bet to say that will be the case within a year of two of launch. They're scrambling too much to change what they've got for the difference to be possible in 6 months, but the differentiation will definitely happen.


That would require some form of one disc identifier and a one time (at least) authentication to ensure that someone who had converted their discs into cloud copies hadn't passed off their disc to someone who was now playing offline with the disc.


So charge $5 (or whatever the cut they would get from a used game resale) to convert it.


What a terrible article.

First, the analogy is completely wrong.

Second, Microsoft is realizing people are getting seriously tired of the bullshit "always on" concept. It's hard to justify and is widely rejected as a valid technical limitation on platforms where you expect to always have an internet connection (and is only accepted when the gameplay itself REQUIRES a connection, unlike the late SimCity). It's completely unacceptable in a device that historically has been played without an internet connection, and in the best case, that scenario becomes like the PC, in that it's only acceptable when the user wants to play some form of internet-based multiplayer.

There is no valid technical justification for "it has to either be all physical CDs or you have to have to connect to our servers every 24 hours". With a properly secured console, it should be fairly trivial to support shared digital games without requiring a ping.

I, surely less intelligent than the entirety of the xbox team, came up with this in about 10 seconds:

Person A informs server of intent to share game G with person B.

Server sends a message to person A: "game G disabled for period X hours". This message is signed for authenticity, with public key crypto, verifiable by a public key stored in secured memory on the console.

Server sends a message to person B: "game G activated and enabled for period X hours". This message signed identically to #2.

Person B starts game G, console verifies signed access card, if valid, downloads game. Once download/install is complete, console again verifies access card. If valid, runs it. Periodically, every 30 minutes, console checks running processes against associated access cards. If an access card becomes invalid, the process is terminated gracefully (save progress, notify user why).

Person A tries to start game G. Console verifies signed access card, if valid. Access is restricted, so console informs user G is temporarily unavailable due to being shard with Person B.

Surely this isn't that difficult to implement? And now you don't have to be online except to download the digital game.

I seriously HATE it when companies try to impose nonsensical, unjustifiable, technically wrong "limitations" on me just because it suits them. Stop it.


In general, making up security schemes off the top of your head doesn't go so well.

Case in point: You forgot to ensure that Console A actually finds out that a particular game has been disabled.


Not really, I just didn't include obvious details for brevity. Of course you verify cryptographically that the transferring console has received the disable notification and has marked the game as disabled before continuing the process. We can simplify this and call it sending the console a message that it needs to disable the game.


If I understand your solution, what's keeping Person A from restoring from an earlier backup where the access was still valid? Or even sharing the backup with all the games available?


The tokens would be signed with an expiration, so if they backed up to a time when they had a valid "access" token, the verification would fail (assuming the device has an internal chronometer that the user can't modify). If they were to lend the game to a friend, then back up to a time before they lent the game, there could be a problem.

So it'd be up to the backup software with access to the sensitive storage being smart enough not to cause that problem. Alternatively, backups and restores could require an internet connection.


I think the OP here is giving MS more credit than they are due. I don't believe they were trying to build a car, and I don't believe they had a messaging problem. I think they were trying to pull a bait and switch. Pitch a car and sell a faster horse. They got caught, and the Internet won.

You can easily get to that conclusion by gauging the HD storage shipping with each unit. Add to that the average speed of Internet in the US, and you have a poor situation for over the net gaming.

We're just not there yet.


> Add to that the average speed of Internet in the US, and you have a poor situation for over the net gaming.

Now maybe. The article mentions that it's a device designed for the next 7 or 8 years.


I don't think this generation of consoles will survive without a refresh in the next 7 or 8 years. Tech is moving too fast.


It hasn't for the last seven years? Other than the arrival of SSDs, the consoles were running on a half-decade old tech and still doing fine. If anything, tech seems to be moving slower lately, with less increase of processor powers and less notable increases in graphics capability.


The last 7 were far different IMO. Coming out of the bubble, and very little progress in software, not much needed to change. But now, I think the fact that software, not hardware, is changing rapidly, a 7-8 year cycle isn't going to work.

Sure, they can bolt-on new firmware updates and operating systems, but I think the way we use consoles will change quite a bit in the next 3-4 years alone.


It's not even a simple question of the average speeds of internet connections in America. It's a question of whether there is ever a legitimate reason for the XB1 to be disconnected from the internet. I have an okay connection speed most of the time, but a month ago, over a course of a couple days, my connection started to get really erratic and eventually died. My cable modem had died. I went over a week dealing with terrible Comcast customer service. All I wanted was for them to send a repair person to replace the modem as soon as possible.

But for Comcast, it was all about the up-sell. You see, they didn't want to just replace my old modem, they wanted to use the "opportunity" to push me to a more expensive plan (as I later found out) with useless "features" like IP-based voice call service. I had no interest in these features but the customer service rep assured me that my bill wouldn't increase and my connection speeds would be higher. What's not to like in this deal?

Of course, I find out when my bill comes that the new plan is $20+ higher due to the useless voice calling. People complain about NSA wiretapping but I would love to have access to the recording of that conversation to prove that Comcast lied to me.

Now imagine what would have happened if I had to be connected to the internet once every 24 hours to play games. It was bad enough that I had no internet for 7+ days but now I wouldn't even be able to entertain myself with single player games. I know it's beating a dead horse but the fact is that I should not be hindered in any way from playing Angry Birds on my console just because Anonymous is DDOSing Microsoft's servers or I just moved to a new apartment and don't have internet service or my internet took a dump because the cable modem kicked the bucket or because I'm just lazy and don't want to enter my WPA key into the console.


>You can easily get to that conclusion by gauging the HD storage shipping with each unit. Add to that the average speed of Internet in the US, and you have a poor situation for over the net gaming.

You can add an external hard drive (supports USB 3.0) and it can act as storage for games.


That's true, but I can't see the average console owner doing this, at least based on my own anecdotal experience.


Some internet pundits don't understand the value of a game machine that works without ever connecting to the internet.

MS wants to sell precisely one license but support both never-connected machines and cloud lending, but this was too hard for them to figure out and they're dropping the cloud part.

The cloud lending facility required expiring leases (think DHCP) to guard against the possibility of a purchaser intentionally stranding their license at a friend's house (or on a dead xbox, or one that loses internet connectivity), where that friend would play happily for weeks without connecting to the network.

If you believe in the effectiveness of copy-proof-disc DRM, then a single token permitting ongoing play can certainly just reside on the disc.

How about this:

1. disc alone doesn't suffice to play a game on an unconnected xbox (so never-connected users are out of luck)

2. net connected xbox alone can acquire the right-to-play token as long as the previous holder of the token is online. (physical disc from store would need insertion only on first use to create the initial on-net token).

3. an unconnected xbox that was the last one to use the net token may continue to play indefinitely without net access, provided the disc can be validated. this does allow simultaneous play of at most one online and one disc, but only as long as the xbox stays intentionally unconnected (this limits the number of extra licenses to at most 1, unlike a more lenient cloud-lending policy that allows continued play without check-ins).

I believe the renew-lease-every-24hr model already allowed simultaneous play in case of the last token holder being offline (if the game didn't require a connection to play, that is).

If absolutely prohibiting simultaneous play from a single purchase is a must (and I don't see why it should be; an average concurrency of strictly less than 2 sounds fine), then you just need to require explicit lease releases (and the disc becomes irrelevant again), which has an obvious customer service overhead when people can't release for whatever reason.

Alternatively they could implement a physical 'disc destroyer' that can move a game (one-way) to the cloud phone-home mode. Or just require an xbox to phone home before permitting a new disc (giving up on never-connected xboxes), in which case no physical destruction is necessary.


Agreed. Also, in the ever increasing world of globalization, I don't believe in region locking.

Currently I own a Korean Xbox 360, as I bought it in Seoul while living there years ago. Since moving back to the US I have not bothered buying any new games mainly b/c I don't want to deal with having to worry about region locking.

It will be interesting to see how ownership and digital files interact in the future. Do I even own any of my digital files?


I don't believe in region locking

It looks like Microsoft doesn't anymore, either. The "no region locking" announcement today was an unexpected surprise.


Nope. You own a license to access your digital files.


It also sounded like they wanted you to be able to play without the disc, in other words start migrating people towards digital downloads- even the people who still wanted to buy discs. Perhaps in the hope that they would warm up to the downloads model after using it.


The gaming industry as a whole has gone backward.

The idea that a game would ship which allowed users to set up their own networks and play their buds seems alien. Instead, many franchises shut down their subscription service after a couple of years - e.g. to force the upgrade from FIFA 12 to FIFA 14.

I remember Quake - the free demo, and fragging my coworkers over the Novell after hours to the point that my wife would call the office...this was before cell phones...just to make sure I wasn't really out drinking and perhaps chasing skirts.


Quake wasn't made by a marketing team. Also, here on the PC side, things still seem fine as ever, maybe even better when you consider the fact that we have fully drm-free options these days.


This is frustrating and it's a false choice. "The Internet" is otherwise known as the people who were most likely to purchase an XBox 1 before hearing about the draconian DRM policies. If the XBox 360 were a horrible product, MS would have heard very very little from "The Internet".

Who they heard from was a fan base who very much still enjoy their XBox 360s and were truly looking forward to an improved product with some sick innovations that only companies like Microsoft can deliver. They heard from this collection of people because in addition to the excellent innovations, they tacked on completely unreasonable restrictions that make the product all but completely useless if you CHOSE not to connect it to the network or have the spying eye watching your every move, and then twisted themselves into a pretzel trying to either make these sound like a feature instead of handcuffs or failing to explain that you could turn off the advanced features of the Kinect.

In response to hearing from "The Internet", instead of actually listening to what was being said and making some reasonable changes to the restrictions, they stopped dead in their tracks, turned 180 degrees, then killed many of the innovations that could have been modified while still providing consumers with an actual choice.

I'm sooooo tired of being told I'm too stupid to understand something. By my government, and by big companies who once commanded my respect.


> "Most people aren’t Richard Branson and most people have enough of a connection, however intermittent, to authenticate once a day."

Military Personnel nonwithstanding...

> "Who knows, maybe Microsoft will change the policy again and have people opt in to the online check so that they can share their libraries with their friends. Maybe they will have another tier where people opt in to these benefits. I hope so."

And that was the crux of the matter. WE WERE NOT GIVEN A CHOICE, I am all in favour of letting people choose which is more important to them but MS initially shafted a load of people with their "This is how it is going to be" without any options spiel.

[EDIT] I suppose I should put as a disclaimer that I have never owned any of the x-boxes nor plan to. I am merely commenting from the point of view of a consumer in general.


> WE WERE NOT GIVEN A CHOICE

As consumers, we are rarely given a choice.


Well, we're always given a choice in the end: buy it or don't buy it.

It's what I've done in the past, and it's what I'll do now. I'll just not buy it. Because if you complain, but buy it anyway, you're really saying that it's still worth while to you.


Well, we're always given a choice in the end: buy it or don't buy it.

That works with grocery, baked goods, music, perhaps even computers (if you opt not to look at the CPU inside), but game consoles? You can hardly say "fuck Sony, I'm going to buy Final Fantasy for Wii". This only works on a free market, which is a rare sight these days.


You still have a choice! "Can play Game X" is a feature of the platform just as much as as its hard-drive space or lack of DRM or whatever. Luxuries always have an element of consumer choice involved.

It's only, in fact when you start talking about essentials such as food, housing and basic services where you can claim you're forced to buy something. And I'm not even sure where you were trying to go with that music comparison (It's not like I can buy an album but choose to give the money to a different record company).


Why not apply it to the life itself? I mean, people who can't afford food are free to die, aren't they? It's not like anyone is forcing them to live or something. Using this kind of logic, anything can be turned into a choice.


Except choosing to consume a commodity piece of art is very much a choice not a need like food or sleep.


I can conceivably see the case where someone'd just like to argue "this, very much yes, but not this" - the whole idea that one thing should just then be a "deal-breaker" is more a reflection of the fact that the only substantial way we can then make the argument is through a binary buy-or-don't-buy.

So I don't mind the rhetoric - someone shouldn't have to claim ultimate and eternal loyalty to a product (lest they risk being attacked with a perceived inconsistency pointed out) to argue with and about a product. Of course it makes it no more effective - but it's slightly more truthful.


Sure, but then you were also given a choice with the Xbox One all along.

It sounded like you were saying that people should get a choice between the old system and new. But that's silly, and never happens in the real world anyway.


That is really not the case. Even on the Xbox 360 today, you can either buy a disc or download a game from the marketplace. Physical and digital distribution models have coexisted since the '90s.


The main issue is how badly Microsoft marketed the XBOX One. They completely failed to get their message across. As a result they were getting shit on by Sony.

Facebook and reddit have seen a huge number of anti-XBOX posts.. I don't know what pre-orders were looking like but I would imagine they aren't great because of all the bad publicity.

I wonder how things would have looked if Microsoft had a decent marketing team.

"We are going to revolutionize how you enjoy games. When you buy a game you can share it with up to 10 friends. When you sign in to any console anywhere your games library will be available. Here's a first. You can transfer digital games to another person!"

They could then talk about the caveats.

"To make these features possible and promote the development of awesome games we have introduced a developer revenue sharing plan for used games. This means you can only trade in games with registered partners. We have already signed up Gamestop, blah, blah and blah. We are adding more every day. On average an American will only be x miles from a vendor."

"The XBOX One allows you to play games online and offline. Just like any other console. However, to make use of game sharing and portable games library both XBOX's will need to be connected to the Internet so they can regularly check in."

"We believe the XBOX One will allow you to experience more games. We are the first vendor to let you share digital games. You will never need to walk around with your disc's again. The games will be right with you. This is the XBOX One"

OK.. I added in offline play. I think it is ridiculous that they didn't allow this. I would have got behind this. The problem is that Microsoft hadn't worked out what they were doing before their launch event. Everyone was confused. Then there was the death trickle of hit and miss information from MS and XBOX support. Meanwhile deafening rumors drowned out everything else.

The Internet didn't make Microsoft kill anything. They did all this themselves with some of the worst information delivery and brand management I have ever seen.

"The Internet" made it clear offline gaming and the ability to freely trade and share games were important to them. I am happy that a lot of people sent a strong message in an attempt to defend this right. It is a shame that Microsoft couldn't get across that what they were providing was in fact not at odds with this.


You can only spin the "DRM is good for you" message so much. Most people are smarter than to fall for it.


Gamers seem to love Steam.


Steam's DRM stays out of my way, in the same way iTunes' used to. Microsoft's DRM forced me to play in a way they saw fit.


Which is the point. DRM isn't the boogeyman. It is how DRM is presented.


No, the relevant issue is how the DRM is designed and executed. The substantive differences between MS's scheme and how Steam does things are too big to simply gloss over. The marketing could have been as slick as you please but they would still have been trying to sell a shit sandwich. It's no surprise that gamers sniffed them out.


Not how it's presented. How it functions.


What I don't like is how they overly complicated the beating around the bush of digital distribution.

The whole if and or but clauses with "used" games they had only hurt their platform. You are never buying a piece of plastic for $60, you are buying a license for IP and a very long number etched on that polycarbonate. Used games were always at best a legal gray zone because the end user never had an explicit license to redistribute the copy for money and the first sale doctrine is really just an antiquated idea that makes the copyright scene a giant mess.

I would have preferred if MS went straight "here is your xbox account, you can buy games online or in a store, anywhere you buy them they link to your account, you get cloud saves and can download the game whenever you want (tbh they could have had a great API for asset streaming to allow people to play games while they download as a convenience), every xbox needs to be signed in on, and once signed it it doesn't need to sign in again unless you change the accounts or install another game.

Yes, it eliminates the used games market, but you could easily go to a friends house, log in on your account, and play your games there (preferrably streamed) and you aren't wandering in gray IP law territory.


> "Yes, it eliminates the used games market"

And that's where the merry go round comes to a screeching halt. It's great that the Xbox is being developed in a part of the country where literally no one has to sell a game to play another one, but this is far from the reality in the rest of the country, let alone the world.

For a great many users, "it eliminates the used games market" is where the sentence ends, because everything that follows, no matter how cool and awesome, is moot.

There are many, many user-facing advantages you can bundle with digital distribution (and thus DRM) that would convince users to hop on board. Steam did this. Microsoft didn't.


What about the part where, given that in the absence of a used game market games can be rapidly price slashed (since the entire ordeal with games in the first place is that the plastic disc and the burning cost cents, you are just reimbursing the development costs and eventually adding the sweet profit). If you can sell a game for a dollar, it is almost certainly a profit, because it only costs you pennies in transaction fees, bandwidth costs, etc. The argument is always the optimal price point to maximize returns, but digital distribution lets you be fluid with the prices.

You could launch Halo 5 for $150, and drop the price every day by $10 to $50, and then $5 a day to $20, and then $2 a day to $2, and there would still be thousands buying on day 1.


> "given that in the absence of a used game market games can be rapidly price slashed"

This is a common raised point - but there's no evidence that this will actually happen. Valve has certainly done this, but Valve is also an extremely atypical company in their industry.

We have seen, for example, with existing digital purchase games (on PS3, 360, and PC) that games cost the same as their retail counterparts. The "no resale" model exists, and with the except of Steam, the lower prices thing has never materialized. This is true across all platforms - on PS3, on 360, on Origin, etc.

What Microsoft tabled was a lot of what ifs that had almost no chance of actually panning out. With the death of used games publishers could charge less, but neither logic nor industry trends bear that out.

The value proposition was a giant (unlikely) hypothetical vs. a cold reality of killing used games.


Steam games launch as expensive as the retail counterparts because big chain stores like Gamestop Target and Walmart refuse to stock it if its launched digitally for less money. Also, there is no reason not to launch a digital product at an extremely high price point, because if you can get someone to buy it at $100 that is just $99.9 in profit.

If you are selling the game in stores, you have to pay for polycarbonate disks, the plastic packaging, shipping, stocking, store fees, you have to play international politics wherever you are selling it, you have to put up some advertising on site for the game, and that all does cost an actual sizable amount of money per copy compared to just having an FTP server grid pushing out copies of the game to people that clicked a button.

If the console market went pure digital, their per-unit costs would go to $0, so they could sell their games at whatever price they'd want, and fluctuate the price however they want. The shelf price can't change much besides slow discounts over a stock time and most games go off the shelves before they'd see any real discount. Online, a publisher can flick a switch across all distribution channels on what to sell the game for (assuming steam / gog / etc lets them) and have a new price overnight.

No, you can't assume a publisher would ever cut the cost of the game, but these people are in the business to make money and surely someone in each of these companies understands that to profit maximize they sell early for a lot and drop the price over time to get the most money out of the most people.

The only curveball in digital distribution to contend with is that you are always competing with free, because thanks to bittorrent someone else is always willing to send you the huge multi-gigabyte number of the game and pay the electric bill to transmit it. That naturally drives prices to $0, or in Steams case around $2 - $3 even for huge titles from 5 years ago.


I'm sure Microsoft did all the good things you said they should have done. However, on most tech sites there is a huge anti-Microsoft bias. So instead of the tech sites talking up all the good things Microsoft is doing, all they focus on is the negative things. Then, surprise, everyone is up in arms about all the bad things Microsoft is doing.


The XBOX 360 is arguably the most popular console of its generation. After the PS4 launch event all my friends didn't really care. They were waiting for the XBOX event. XBOX's reputation and popularity, even with its RROD issues was massive.

It is amazing how quickly this can be destroyed. Microsoft didn't clearly present what you could and couldn't do with the XBOX ONE. They hadn't worked out every caveat. This meant after every event there were questions. Even announced features were met with. "Do you mean 10 friends or family accounts to share games with?"

For gamers I think the most difficult thing to understand was why potentially thousands of dollars of purchases would become unplayable if you lost internet connection for more than 24 hours.


> The XBOX 360 is arguably the most popular console of its generation.

Is it, though?

http://vgchartz.com/embeds/worldwide_totals.png


Console sales are not that important. How many people have it plugged into their TV. How many people regularly play is a better sign of popularity.

This is 2011. Wii came in 3rd for number of games sold

http://www.vgchartz.com/yearly/2011/Global/

2012. A massive drop off for Wii

http://www.vgchartz.com/yearly/2012/Global/

The Wii was / is a big success but the 360 has had stunning longevity and a very passionate player base.


On the flipside, their no self-publish policy and required publisher agreements (which need to be able to publish 4 titles a year on the device) is pushing a horse (old market) over going to a car (new market).

They would have been better off just applying discounts to titles that can't be resold or shared (who wouldn't buy the same game for 20% off that way?). Change people with the market and benefits, don't try to change them with bad PR decisions. Apple's customers always liked the virtual keyboard due to the benefits of more screen.

A big fail on the always on 'feature' was for many soliders overseas, they wouldn't be able to play in many cases: http://gamasutra.com/blogs/JayJohnson/20130611/194155/The_Xb...


> They would have been better off just applying discounts to titles that can't be resold or shared (who wouldn't buy the same game for 20% off that way?).

Yes. I feel that MS's Xbox division has forgotten, when they chose to focus on the publishers instead of the consumer and developer, that price is what makes DRM stores like Audible ($15 or less for audiobooks that normally cost $25-$50) or iOS (most games are 0.99 or FREE compared to 19.99-29.99 for mobile games on other platforms) successful. Price is also what keeps people coming back to Steam.

> On the flipside, their no self-publish policy and required publisher agreements

This is something else I don't understand. It's easy to see that self-publishing is what made Apple, Google, and Valve app stores so successful. MS even has a Win 8 app store. I don't understand how they couldn't see that this should apply to Xbox as well when both Sony and Nintendo already realize this. Why cater to large video game publishers when their days are numbered due to the app stores?


Don't worry. Valve will come out with a nice car (SteamBox) and will craft their message more carefully to make sure all of the horse lovers don't get spooked before they fall in love with the ride.


I feel like everyone in this thread, including the author of the blog, is retarded except for you.

People calling the XBox 1 a car, not realizing that consoles are the horse and Steam/online digital gaming is the car, since you can buy a functional new gaming computer (laptop!) that can play any modern game for $400 or less, a $499 price point on the XBox makes no sense at all.


People don't want the hassle of owning a gaming PC vs a laptop for many reasons.

It's much easier to just buy a console that will last for 8 years rather than worry about your computer getting out of date in 3 years.

It's easier for groups of friends to play on a console because there is local multiplayer support on console games.

Many gamers want to game on their couch and use their game console for other media (video streaming and music).

People will buy what their friends have (hint: it's consoles)


I play video games on my tv on my couch with a wireless xbox controller and use my game console for other media.

My "game console" being my pc.

Is it really that hard to run an hdmi cable in 2013?


Valve doesn't have to do anything about messaging because Steam already works like the XBox One was going to.


Apart from the massive sales, offline mode without calling home every 24 hours, the ability to download all your games then go offline without connecting.

But they don't let you swap/sell games to other accounts, however there are massive sales multiple times a year where games are actually is cheap (even in terms of Australian pricing, which is crazy) enough for you to buy.


Not entirely. For one Steam has offline mode which is certainly better than what MS was proposing.


To be fair, Steam became popular back when offline mode was really buggy and problematical; it's a lot better today, but back then is was not uncommon for it to just forget what it was doing until you could reconnect.


Really? Did you read the article? Can you sell the games you own on Steam? Lend them to your friends?


The point is that many of us who were relatively happy users of Steam were annoyed at the changes in the Xbone. However, Steam took a decade before I let it on my computer. I literally didn't realize I'd be buying into it when I bought a retail copy of Bioshock Ultimate.

Whereas Microsoft went to the biggest built-up launch event in all of gaming and told all the gamers waiting on the edge of their seat and gave the impression that they cared more about the set-top box market instead and the Xbone was going to lock you out of even disc games that you buy unless you give it a 24/7 phone-home kill switch. Oh and if the cloud thought that your IP address looked like it came from the wrong region you were DoA too.

To be out-consumer-friendlied by Sony of all companies, ouch that stings.

Disclosure: MS employee, not in Xbox, my own opinion only


Lending games to friends seems to be a feature that Steam is at least experimenting with, based on the latest Steam beta update: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=595606

Could be related to a ruling by the European Court of Justice last year, by which "An author of software cannot oppose the resale of his ‘used’ licences" http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2012...

This could also lead to permanent license transfers being possible (possibly enabled via Steam's existng community marketplace, where Steam takes a cut of the sale of virtual goods--and perhaps more advantageous for Steam, sellers on Steam's community market don't get cash; they get credit that can only be used on Steam).


The success of the Valvemobile will be in no way affected by the hood ornament, I suppose.

To un-knot the twisted metaphor, I'm saying Valve already got past the wailing 10 years ago. Their Steam model already enjoys widespread success and approval, while Microsoft is, well, Microsoft.


Maybe sharing their libraries with their friends wasn’t something they were looking forward to. Maybe they liked having to bring all their physical discs along wherever they went. Maybe they didn’t care about having the ability to sell their digital games after they’re done playing. I don’t know.

I really despise conversations that take this turn, to wit: "maybe the people I'm treating like idiots really are massochistic morons out to hurt themselves any way possible and don't want anything to improve." It shows no interest in the possibility that there is a very real valid concern they're having trouble expressing to someone who doesn't want to hear it.


Along with this, everyone praising the supposed benefits of digital lending forget that they had no actual idea of how it would work. There are no details. Microsoft never defined what "family" meant, and nobody has any idea of how the system would be implemented. People were praising a feature that literally didn't exist.

[Phil] Spencer: We don't have a lending solution today.

Kotaku: You might have one?

Spencer: We don't have a path... I don't want to make a commitment to somebody without a plan of record on how that lands. I could over-promise, under-deliver on the features. I don't want to do that. I want to make sure. I understand how gifting is going to work. I understand how the secondary market is going to work.


The problem is that Microsoft put a saddle on the car by offering physical discs. I really didn't see the point of it if it was always online, given that MS has their music and movie stores.

Moreover it didn't really give consumers the main benefit of always on DRM: lower prices for games. This is why consumers don't care about the DRM on iOS or even Android.

Another major problem is that for all the features offered for Xbox One that apologists like to keep repeating (family sharing, trade-ins, lending, selling), there was a really big caveat: publishers have to approve that feature for their respective games. Even if they did approve it, I can imagine all the restrictions they would have imposed (trade-in approved stores, minimum time & publisher set prices for trade-ins, and so on)


physical discs are useful for people with always-on-but-still-painfully-slow internet, and it also was a way for MS to compromise and not piss off all the physical disc retailers, who happen to be the same people who will retail the console itself.


You can't have your cake and eat it too.


Yeah, but they could have sold their console with online retail only, a la Amazon. That would have been really innovative.


>That would have been really innovative.

And a great way to lose out on billions of sales.


Ask Amazon how it turned out for them with the Kindle. Sold only online. No retailers. They crushed all the other physical ebook-readers re-sellers.


Ask Australia if they'd like to download one game a month and max out the allowed data on their internet connection. Data caps are still common, and for every marketplace that has them, a digital-only marketplace is DOA.


A sample size of 1 is not relevant.


Your first sentence absolutely nails it.

To be clear, Microsoft still can have both the "horse" and the "car" with the Xbox One, just as they can with the Xbox 360. Removing the unnecessary restrictions on physical discs doesn't have to change the digital distribution gaming platform one iota, allowing the Xbox One to have both the Steam model and the classic game cartridge model. If Microsoft provides a compelling case for the Steam model (which can simply be "not having to get up to switch discs"), people will use it.


This article has about one good paragraph (the first one), then descends into mindless internet-hating drivel. The internet didn't make Microsoft do anything - Microsoft, for better or worse, capitulated to popular demand.

Maybe Microsoft's problem was a marketing problem. It's not the fault of the general public that a multi-billion dollar organisation can't communicate its vision. As the article states, Apple managed to push its vision of the iPhone and iPad through in spite of the vocal opposition.


One of the things that I learned from studying Lean Manufacturing was to see a company's primary goal as generating customer value. Extracting enough cash to be sustainable is important, but value comes first.

In this case, I look at the 24-hour thing, and MS's apparent horror of somebody playing for a few days on a friend's license. And I say: that is value being created. Somebody had fun. That's the whole fucking point of the enterprise. They should be happy.

Now they do want to capture reasonable amounts of revenue, so I get why they don't want to sell exactly one copy of a game that gets shared around an entire city. But if some rule creates only a modest increase in revenue while destroying a lot of value (or creating a lot of customer headache), then it strikes me as dumb. And when they do something that may get them no extra revenue at all, or might even drive away paying customers, then it's shockingly dumb. It's being willing to make a pie smaller, as long as you get a bigger fraction of what's left.

There's a financial saying that I think applies: bulls make money and bears make money, but pigs get slaughtered.


> For example, if Apple had listened to prevailing wisdom in 2007, the iPhone would have had a physical keyboard.

For example, if Apple had gone with their initial plans we wouldn't have Apps.


Gizmodo coincidently published a similar "the internet dun goofed" post http://gizmodo.com/the-xbox-one-just-got-way-worse-and-its-o...


What's the old saying? You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time?


I think the saying here is, "here's money, now write a pro-Microsoft piece."


Shitty article. They weren't trying to build a car, they were trying to get the horse to pull a car. They were still selling physical media, just hamstringing it so it would be less useful than it is today. Want to build a "Steam for XBox", go right ahead. Want to make buying from "Steam for XBox" the only way to get games, go right ahead. But that's not what they did. They Said, buy games like today, oh, and here are a bunch of extra value-reducing "features" that go with it.


Microsoft remembered it sells (mostly) console, not (mostly) games.

pleasing the pirates sells wonders.

If you only lived your teenager years in the US or Japan, then you will not understand. But Sony et al sold millions of consoles to other countries where the market probably bought 1 game per 10 consoles sold (numbers vaguely remembered from a playstation1 analysis i read a long time ago)


"market probably bought 1 game per 10 consoles sold"

You seem to have reciprocated your fraction there: http://www.vgchartz.com/analysis/platform_totals/Tie-Ratio/G...

Globally, the PS1 sold about 9 games per console. I don't necessarily fully trust that site or that number, but it's probably at least within a factor of two, which still leaves it a great distance from your number.


Never said global numbers. I meant specifically the emerging countries.


My apologies.


Historically speaking MS and Sony hardware is sold for a loss which is covered by the cut they get per game sold. I'm not sure how big of a loss, if any, the PS4 and XB1 are being sold for. It could be close to even.


That's true for US and Japan. Maybe Europe nowadays.


Microsoft and Sony get a cut of every game sold for their platforms, while the consoles themselves are sold for a loss, at least at launch. That's how it has worked for the last two generations and I think it's the same this time around.

The exception is Nintendo, who sold the Wii (and presumably the Wii-U) for a small profit.


I'm pretty sure for MS and Sony, they were selling software. Sony was selling every PS3 for a loss 6 years into its product life cycle.


Sony and microsoft consoles at a loss not to profit from game sales, that's just silly.

They did sold consoles at a loss to be the number one console and then make money on the next one after they cornered the market and can extract real profits. Microsoft always did that with windows/office file format lock-in. Sony always did that with media formats lock-in. They would love to sell you at a loss for the chance to corner a market of betamax, minidisc, laserdisc, memorystick, blue-ray... oh wait, see the relation to PS3 there?


Worked out great for the PSP… oh hang on


Looking forward to the iTV or SteamBox. I live in 2013 in the U.S., and I am willing to buy a device that requires I have Internet access in my living room, and leverages that fact to let me buy and share games in an innovative way. I guess I'm a rare bird!


Every time i see a post from medium.com on hacker news it always has some dramatic headline. But then the content tends to be poorly thought out, and more contrarian than insightful. Dear hacker news gods, please don't feed into tabloid techno-journalism.


> I’ll most likely only buy 2 or 3 used games in the entire 7 year console life, and my internet very rarely goes out.

Well, that makes one of us. I'm relieved that Microsoft backed down on this, despite the cost in new features. Personally, I'm less interested in buying used games as I am passing them along to friends or selling them, but I would be pissed if they unilaterally removed this option for me.


Uh, the internet did no such thing. The internet revolted because Microsoft is incapable of making a "sharing" system for the 1 that isn't ridiculously anti-customer garbage.


For example, if Apple had listened to prevailing wisdom in 2007, the iPhone would have had a physical keyboard.

If. Fucking. Only.


> You could install all your games onto your hard drive and not have to get up all the time to swap discs

Holy crap, that's lazy. Who wrote this, Eric Cartman? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRjjVtvxRMs


You could say the same thing about having your entire music library at your fingertips digitally and having to get up to swap a CD.


You can play music while doing other things. With video games, it is the thing that you are doing. If getting out of a chair to swap a disc is a big issue for someone, that's really not a healthy sign.


Good point. Still, it's (and I loath to use this phrase) the future. Movies then. Makes more sense on a HTPC than having to swap out discs.


>Holy crap, that's lazy.

Isn't a lot of the benefits of technology about making things easier to do?


If you have small kids in the house, it also saves you from the inevitability of these expensive discs getting scratched.


That actually is a great reason for going all digital. The other reason (I don't think it was mentioned in the article) is that over the years (PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360) disc drive failures have been one of the biggest hardware problems I've faced with consoles.


I actually rip digital copies of my kids' DVDs, then stream them to the TV over my network for precisely this reason. Left to their own devices, they will trash any given DVD in under a week.


Exactly! That's why I never use remote controls for any television in my house. I want to live an active lifestyle


Not really - Microsoft did this to themselves, the Internet is not responsible. Microsoft could have done something else here: Think. Yes, all these people could have used their brains to add all these "new" (or rather: old) mechanisms without killing of the scenarios defined as forward looking by Microsoft. They could have been forward looking AND caring for the status quo. But in typical sore looser fashion it is far easier to go back to only the old way and whine around "And our new ideas are out now! You did not want them! And now you do not get them! You evil people!"

But at least it is better than the first iteration.


I don't really see how the features they removed are incompatible with not requiring online checkins every 24h and certainly not with the used game policy. I don't see why they couldn't have made the online checkins optional, but required to do any of the game sharing, and if you don't check in within 24h it just disables games that aren't yours and doesn't let other people play yours.

Sure, that could be gotten around but people are going to figure out how to pirate anyway.


I think the problem happens when Person A buys a game disc and lends a digital copy to Person B. Person A then disconnects from the Internet and plays using the game disc and Person B plays with the 24H online check in. Now you have two people playing the same game at the same time with only one copy of the game bought.


how about this: before A can lend a digital copy to B, A must turn on his internet connection and tell MS's server that he is now lending to B.

B can now download A's game to play.

A cannot play his physical copy until B returns the copy back to the server (some state must be kept in A's console to remember this).

if B's connection goes down for more than some period (could less or more than 24hr, configurable by A), his copy is automatically relinquished.

does this solve the "only single active copy" issue?


How does that not happen with their old system? You buy a disc, install it, remove the disc (doesn't need to go back in) and then give it to someone else?


You need the disc in the tray to play games installed to the hard drive (that weren't digital downloads).


> Now you have two people playing the same game at the same time with only one copy of the game bought.

And?


Yeah, that is a much more reasonable way to think about it, and frankly the way it was presented was fuck you guys we are getting all of ours. I still dont think it was a messaging problem, it was a microsoft having a money boner problem. Plenty of people will be wailing about anything on the internet anyway. They doing something? You dont like it! They did something else to mollify you! Their cowardice has cost us great features!


Bullshit. If Microsoft had any guts, they woulda done this but only for non-physical copies. Then the consumer would have a choice on whether they liked the direction things were going or not and there would have actually been some benefit from the status quo for the consumer.

You know what the difference between the console based DRM schemes and Steam is? A worse situation was already emerging on PC. Publishers were starting to employ draconian DRM policies that eliminated any chance of resale or sharing, but also didn't work properly and made pirated games a significantly better choice than buying a game from a store.

Steam gave you a better experience with the same limitations as the sell-side of the market was starting to demand and enforce.

If you think Microsoft made a bad move, you are plainly ignoring the history of PC gaming and trying to imagine that the status quo was how it always existed.

Oh, hey, you know what else MS could have done if they had guts? They could have made it an option to add a disc game to your permanent library, allowing a consumer to voluntarily give up their right of resale for permanent digital access.

Of course they're cowards, smart cowards, but cowards.


Comparing marginal utility gains for small numbers of people with the difference between mechanised transport and horses is just such ... well, the horses used to leave it behind them:

------------------------

• If you purchased a physical disc game, your game was tied to your account and you could go to any other Xbox One and be able to have access to your entire library without carrying physical discs around

Who cares? The device would sit in front of the TV.

• You could re-sell your physical disc game to Gamestop or any participating outlet that opted into Microsoft’s revenue sharing system

Second hand console games. A never before heard of thing.

• You could buy a used physical disc game from a participating retailer and play it like a new game

Yeah, a never heard of before thing...

• You could install all your games onto your hard drive and not have to get up all the time to swap discs

Oh, the hardship!

• You could buy a digital copy and sell it or gift it to a friend (a previously unheard-of policy in digital games)

This is just an outright lie. You can do that on Steam today.

• You could potentially share your entire library with 10 friends/family members, with the only limitation being that you couldn’t play the same game at once

So, just like with the disks.

------------------------


The problem was that the "car" they launched with wasn't going to work. It's like they pushed a car with no doors or seat belts.

I like the MS vision for a future of pure digital content that's associated with an account so that you can log in from anywhere and get access to it.

The problem with their vision and the Xbox One is that they didn't fully commit. They made a half-step that didn't take us all the way to their vision but still put some, frankly, poorly thought out requirements on the user.

A half-step is fine if you have the ability to iterate quickly and get the rest of the way there in a week or a month. But consoles do not iterate quickly. It would be YEARS before they could take us the rest of the way to their digital wonderland. That's just too long when you're stuck with some awkward intermediate step.

Their vision is still a good one, and it's still one they can build. They just need to be sure that when they launch the next Xbox (after the One), that they take the full step and commit to their vision completely.


" For example, if Apple had listened to prevailing wisdom in 2007, the iPhone would have had a physical keyboard."

Wow, then it would be usable!


I believe some or all of these features that were removed will be included eventually. People have a hard time changing so quickly. Processes can become confusing and people may have a hard time transitioning to all digital at first. PSN and Xbox Live allow for downloaded versions of almost all games now. A persistent push away from physical discs to digital games is something that can clearly still be implemented.

So I do not believe they have abandoned their new features but instead put them on hold and saved them for a later date. Eventually, we will all be on digital media and it will be for the better.


Wow. the Pro-Microsoft astroturfers are are full force, spinning a win for privacy into a loss for gaming's future. Very slick angle to take, guys. now, fill up HN with your sockpuppets, like expected.


Please don't poison the well by arguing that anyone who might disagree with you on any particular point is an astroturfing sockpuppet. If you have evidence or a hunch about a specific trend of postings, that's one thing. Assuming universal bad faith is another entirely, and something HN is better off without. Unless we're talking about SEO hucksters[1].

[1](a joke. mostly.)


Very nice. accusing me of a logical fallacy, while playing the strawman fallacy.

I notice you didn't say my previous statement was in any way incorrect. to reiterate, I am accusing Microsoft of creating sockpuppets (now and in the past) on HN. If you would like some evidence, look at the posting histories of some of the loudest voices during the larger Windows 8 threads on HN; you'll find some awfully short (and focused) comment histories.


If it wasn't your intent to make a general accusation, you could have made a more specific one. Even so, rabid tribalism does not require a particular job title or direct corporate sponsorship.

Whatever grassroots effort they may have had going on in the first place wasn't successful in turning the tide of public opinion. It would be rather strange of them to undermine their own subsequent reversal.


Not the real issue. If Microsoft would have come out and said piracy and the 2nd hand market costs us 11 bajillion dollars in lost revenue. Which is why you the consumer have to pay 59.99 for a game. Then if the xbox one close to the same price as the ps4 with games being significantly cheaper. MS would win.. even with an unpopular strategy because people would think with there pockets. But I wager anything they actually wanted their cake and eat it. There must be some upside. And however you spin it with their initial offering there was none.


As I've already said a couple of times, the dependency on the cloud is troublesome for lots of reasons. I don’t want to “wait for authentication” every time I go play offline single player games, I just want to play the game! Why should I care if it authenticated.

And Microsoft could have made the whole program opt-in. Then some would have their digital future, and I wouldn't. In that case everyone wins.

DRM always presents a problem for a paying user. When you pirate games, you have 0 problems and excellent, if not better, experience than regular, paying users.


"If Apple had listened to customer feedback, the iPhone would have had a physical keyboard. "

If the iPhone got a physical keyboard, I'd totally swap my Android phone for it. I absolutely love Android, but my Nokia E75's physical keyboard just beats any touchscreen by a long way. Also I really miss physical buttons for music control beyond volume. I say this after owning a Galaxy Note 2 for half a year and absolutely loving it. It's just the touchscreen that every modern phone has that is so sucky.


"Most people aren’t Richard Branson and most people have enough of a connection, however intermittent, to authenticate once a day."

Oh for...

It's not about having an internet connection, it's about only being able to play the games as long as Microsoft has the servers turned on and working. Maintenance can stop you playing, which is annoying. More importantly, they're probably not going to keep them on for 20-30 years, so everything you buy has a limited lifespan.


It's because people don't trust Microsoft, and they don't necessarily subscribe to this guy's generous assessment of Microsoft's intent.


I think the reality is they will slowly reintroduce the features they've now taken away. Or perhaps none of those features have been taken away, and they're just adding new ones that allow for play w/o an internet connection.

In any case, I think when the dust settles, most everyone will be content with the options given. This was just a PR disaster, not a poorly engineered game console.


Good news, but remember there is nothing stopping a 'patch update' to turn it back on at a later time when the heat dissipates.


They could have had the best of both worlds:

1) keep the legacy physical media system

2) enable the new system for digital purchases

would have been a huge win and truly groundbreaking


Blame EA for this. The Sim City debacle soured a lot of people on the requirement for Internet connectivity for games that they have purchased.

Also that fast Internet speed is still widely available to many people in India, China, Indonesia and Vietnam. That's a big chunk of game console market.


I have no idea how MS backpedaled so fast. Suddenly no region restrictions? Can't sell downloaded games? All the licensing deals with publishers & GameStop reneged? How the heck did they pivot to a completely different business model in just a few days?


I'd guess that it's from the, allegedly, very low amount of preorders compared to the PS4. Seems like the people complaining actually backed it up with voting with their wallets, which is pretty rare in the gaming community.


This is a terrible article, and most of the features the author is bemoaning the loss of are perfectly possible to have while allowing resale. The internet didn't 'make' MS do this, this is a panicked decision made by people without a clear vision.


Why does this have to be framed as people being ignorant? Could it be they don't want to have to give up the limited rights they still have left?

Microsoft wasn't forced to do anything here. They overestimated the value of their product, plain and simple.


The article makes an interesting point.

If Microsoft had said that this is a completely digital system where you can download the games, or if preferred pick-up on physical media would the response have been any different.

Or are there too many people who fear change


disagree on this:

• You could install all your games onto your hard drive and not have to get up all the time to swap discs

just allow the user to do it if the user agrees to have the 24h online check.


Those weren't features. They were bugs.


Yeah, try to download a dvd over a standard broadband and you and your friend will be playing maybe tomorrow.


> You could buy a digital copy and sell it or gift it to a friend (a previously unheard-of policy in digital games)

Steam??


That was my first thought... But remember, this is in the console arena where everything seems to lag behind PCs.


Someone told me that is a mis-quote, Henry ford never said that. But it is a perfect mis-quote.


They didn't kill a car for a better horse. They killed a bus for a better car.


How naive can this guy possibly be?


Oh come on now, those "features" are terrible and were just a bit of ketchup on a shit sandwich. Speaking as someone who moved house and had to wait a month for a phone company and ISP to get their internet up and running. If I'd had a XBone I would have just be sitting there with an expensive brick for a month.


Honest question: who gives a fuck?




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