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Microsoft should have ignored Xbox One policy moans, says game developer


Xbox One
Xbox One

Gaming giant Microsoft could live to regret its decision to backtrack on its DRM and online check-in policies for the Xbox One, according to one developer.

The company has performed a series of humbling 'Xbox 180s' since the console was announced earlier this year, negating the need for users to check in online once a day, ending the prospect of restrictions on used games, while making the console region free.

Although this climbdown was greeted joyously as a victory by some in the gaming community, Jesse Schell, professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center, said the Microsoft should have stood by its innovations, despite the risk of a public backlash.

He told GamesIndustry International: "Your customers want you to stay the same, even if it drives you into the ground. The reality is that companies can't do what the customers want."

The respected developer said Microsoft wasted an opportunity to define the next generation of gaming in its own terms, but has now resigned itself to giving into customers who want more of the same from the new console.

Schell claimed companies end up failing because they listen to their customers too much, something that Microsoft risks now it has caved on the new features it had planned for Xbox One.

He added: "So now Microsoft has had to say they won't do all that stuff, but someone will. That's how it always goes. This is the lesson of the innovator's dilemma. Why is it that big companies fail when the technology changes? It happens in every industry, so what's the pattern? What are they all doing wrong?

"Everyone says, 'Oh, it's because they're stupid. Big companies are stupid.' They can't be stupid. How did they get that big and stay that big if they're stupid? Microsoft isn't stupid.

"There's one mistake that they all make, and that mistake is listening to their customers.

"The problem is that the hardcore folks always want the same thing: 'We want exactly what you gave us before, but it has to be completely different.' When you want to do something really different - the solution to the innovator's dilemma - you can't take your big brand and say it's going to be completely different."

Do you agree with Schell? Will Microsoft come to regret its decision to play to the masses, or was it right to backtrack before too much damage was done in the forthcoming battle with the Sony PS4? Let us know in the comments section below.


ShadyLittle Boz

August 5, 2013, 9:31 pm

Totally agree, I sincerely hope Micosoft at least now give the user the option of the original E3 DRM Proposal on system set up. It's natural progression, the inevitable future of gaming. What's now happened is one step forward, three steps backward, thanks to this short sighted knee jerk reaction.

Alamak San

August 6, 2013, 5:22 am

"The mistake is listening to their customers" - Yes, looked at how Sony's electronics business has gone from strength to strength in the past two decades as they have ignored their customers' interests by trying to lock them into things like the Minidisc, Memory Stick, and UMD... oh wait..


August 6, 2013, 7:22 am

He's absolute right. I didn't see what all the fuss is about anyway, It was only like what Steam does on the PC. I was hoping with this generation of consoles, games would be tied to accounts and I would not need physical media in the console to switch games :( maybe in another 8 years...


August 6, 2013, 10:22 am

Your confidence is misplaced. He might be right, but how can you be so sure? Here's an alternative point of view:

Without secondhand games, the lifetime cost of a console becomes much more expensive. There's no way I would buy one if I could only buy premium titles at full price. Maybe MS realised that they would lose too many sales because of tightwads like me? (Or, more accurately, people who enjoy gaming but can't justify spending lots of money on it). Maybe they think that a smaller more certain market is better than a big risky one. Especially as they took on risky changes with Windows 8 and their mobile phones and those changes don't seem to be massively popular just at the moment. (I would hazard a guess that most copies of Windows 8 sold are packaged with new computers where the end user is technically illiterate.) So maybe MS decided as a business strategy to go low-risk for the Xbox to balance out the high risk desktop PC/tablet/phone business.

The point is, you and I have no idea what MS's business strategy or real motives are.


August 6, 2013, 4:04 pm

The problem there is that PCs are generally used primarily for emails and internet, and therefore there is a reasonable assumption that they will be connected to the internet.

Games consoles, on the other hand, are mostly "portable" devices that people may take on holiday or to remote places (e.g. caravans, oil-rigs etc.) because there is a presumption that you will *not* have an internet connection. Wi-Fi changes things somewhat but games consoles are not always in the living room (example: child/teenager's room) where internet connection is not practical. Not everyone has wireless internet.

Then there are the people who buy a games console *because* they don't have internet and therefore have no use for a PC because they couldn't use the internet on it if they wanted to. That or they use a 3G dongle that prohibits them from playing games over the internet in the first place...

The above use-case scenarios could not use the XBone even if they wanted to, even for single player games that never ever *need* to access the internet...


August 6, 2013, 4:05 pm

oh, and to pre-empt the response of "laptops are portable PCs" most people will agree that laptops are not powerful enough to acceptably play the top releases that would otherwise be played on a console such as Xbox One


August 6, 2013, 4:54 pm

MS also risked getting obliterated in the next gen war if they didn't back down. What's their proposition otherwise - "like a PS4 but more expensive, less powerful and with a ban on second-hand games"?

It's hardly like customers are afraid of innovation per se, just 'innovations' that make them pay more for stuff. Innovation in graphics, gameplay = yes. Innovations in DRM = no.

It's also doubtful that all big companies 'fall' for exactly the same reason. As if they would be no. 1 forever otherwise. Situations change. Things that make you very strong historically can be a handicap if you are unwilling to adapt quick enough. It's harder for a successful encumbant to throw out the rule book than a new entrant to a market with nothing to loose. Look at dominant SLR makers like Canon / Nikon's reluctance to make CSC's, whilst Sony / Panasonic etc. jumped in.


August 6, 2013, 6:34 pm

ya your totally right on that. i have internet but there have been times where money is tight and something has to give. so i have to pay an additional $100 dollars a month, not to mention $60 for xbox live and the game and console itself, just to play a campaign that doesnt even need internet? no i would stick with my 360. i see his point in that it does allow more and greater changes to the gaming world with what internet can bring. it doesnt mean that for those with internet they cant do the same thing they were olanning on doing. microsoft would loose so many customers and in turn millions of dollars by demanding internet to even USE their console. people who write reviews and so many products designers forget that average america is not rich! the average person doesnt have money to have every luxury like internet or even $400/$500 dollar consoles. and to have both isnt exactly mandatory for day to day life. i think this change is great, it got me back on board with microsoft.

i have internet and i cant wait to see the changes. i mean if you dont have internet or xbox live its not like your completely missing out on the gaming experience. it is much better and more expanded with, but not a necessity. and IF i cant afford internet at some point, it comforts me that my xbox (and all of the games) wont become a $500 paper weight! fuck all the haters, awesome job microsft!

its funny how everyone is praising sony for "listening to thier customers and giving them what they want without any restrictions" at E3 this year. and now that microsoft went back on their original policy ideas everyone is hating on them now for that too. such hypocrites! the policies on internet and trading/used games is perfect right now, there is no need to change anything.

however downloading the disc to your xbox could use and upgrade. with the 360 you still need the disc to play the game. wtf? doesnt that defeat the whole purpose? from what i have heard i think they will get it right on the xbox one.

cant wait to get my xbox one on DAY ONE! oh ya and not to mention call of duty ghosts!


August 6, 2013, 7:02 pm

Just to reply to some of the comments here, nearly everyone has an internet connection at home (over 80% in 2012 and rising) . I can't imagine anyone who does not have an internet connection being someone who would spend £300+ on a games console. (random 0.001% oil rig workers aside)

Xbox live has 46 million users and to get the most out of any of the current console generation you really need to be online, online is the future, I can't believe anyone would doubt this...

Digital media is dying, music, video, apps are all delivered in increasing quantities over the internet.

As for 2nd hand games.. what benefit are they to games publishers, console makers?

While I doubt Microsoft would get it 100% right straight away they should have stuck to there guns and had the balls to follow there original plans through.
It seems the gaming/tech press had a field day with FUD spewing everywhere and MS bolted.

The latest bit of hype is that the PS4 is going to destroy the Xbox one in graphical horse power, when in reality the games will probably end up looking the same on both platforms... and don't even mention that the NSA will be watching everyone through Kinect, load of ......

The End

August 6, 2013, 9:07 pm

I also preferred the original always on idea for the X1, it's still the much better value for a console with it's other innovations but the all digital future is coming whether people want it or not so it would have been nice to be ahead of the game. Sad that some people would rather pay for the exact same thing w/ better graphics than something that would have moved gaming forward..... Explains why so many people buy call of duty every year..... People pay for the same product w/ a different coat of paint.
Oh well, maybe Xbox ONE will eventually get an opt in option for the always online, I'll gladly sign up

The End

August 6, 2013, 9:08 pm

Games will most definitely look the same on both. Even if the ps4 was capable of much better graphics developers are NOT going to alienate half their audience(income) by making one version superior

Capt Dingleberry

August 6, 2013, 10:35 pm

The good professor is clearly better suited to academia than making a living by economical means.
Going against the wishes and collective wisdom of a large part of one's customer base is generally not considered a sound business strategy. But Prof. Schell is welcome to put his own money where his mouth is and prove the un-washed masses of us nay-sayers wrong.

I happen to live in a rural part of the UK where mobile signal is often non-existent, nevermind a consistent and fast internet connection for many folks around. So, that precludes any potential buying decisions of the new xbox right there before even looking at the draconian DRM issues and second hand games, which would make it automatically a no-buy anyway had they stuck by it. Simples!

Laurent Lejeune

August 7, 2013, 8:02 am

Your logic does not make sense. If the PS4 is indeed able of better graphics, developpers will take advantage of it. Otherwise, all PS4 exclusives would look much better than the non-exclusive games. This would in turn affect the reputation of the non-exclusive games developpers.

Plus, how can you alienate the Xbox One players by producing better looking PS4 games? It's ain't your fault that PS4 is more powerful (if it is). In that scenario Xbox One players should stop blaming developpers and instead blame MS for producing a less powerful machine.


August 7, 2013, 10:31 am

"As for 2nd hand games.. what benefit are they to games publishers, console makers?"

Ask the same question about cars. Why do manufacturers support the used car market? After all, they don't make or sell used cars. So they don't profit from them? Logical? So off you go then, and buy that shiny new Merc, with zero used market value?

Of course publishers benefit from the used market. Most obviously, as with cars, they can charge more for the product new if it is known to retain much of its value second-hand. And it gets new customers into their games - how many new customers must have first bought an older version second-hand before jumping in to buy the latest version brand new?

The logic for console makes is just as compelling. Games and consoles are complemetary goods. A console with cheaper games will sell at a higher price.


August 7, 2013, 1:05 pm

No it makes perfect sense. How many Xbox or Playstation PC ports look any better than there console originals apart from the higher resolution offered by PC's? Cant think of one. Developers will not spend the extra money to make games look better on one platform even if it is slightly faster. They always go for the lowest common denominator.

The End

August 7, 2013, 2:10 pm

I'm sorry, were you not around for the current gen systems? You know, the gen where ps3 was supposedly twice as powerful as the 360 yet all multiplats looked the same on both and most played better on Xbox? And halo 4 even though I'm no halo fan looked just as good as any Sony first party games. The g so between the two consoles is even smaller this time so don't delude yourself into thinking anything will look better on ps4 than X1.

That said, I'm going for the console w/ more features and the superior controller and online experience.... Which everyone one knows is the Xbox ONE. Also Kinect 2.0 looks awesome, watch the vids they have of it in action, even more value for my money.

Now if I want a flashlight on my controller as well as a laptop teackpad glues onto it and a lesser online experience I would get a ps4.

The End

August 7, 2013, 2:13 pm

None of that really matters seeing as the online requirements have been removed though

Laurent Lejeune

August 7, 2013, 3:18 pm

I'm glad to see that at least you're not biased at all.


August 7, 2013, 4:20 pm

Of course it doesn't, however the original article was about how they should have kept the original plans and the comments are in response to this!

Peter Garrido

August 8, 2013, 5:44 pm

You know what I don't get is all the people who say whats the big deal, go with the flow, oh and this is the future; when you people wouldn't be saying these things if you had a flipping clue. We gamers are aware that with inovtion comes change however at a cost to whom? We don't feel the cost is proportionate. They want to nickle and dime us until the whole model is just unsustainable to the average gamer that built this franchise from the nobody XBOX to the now XBOX One. Things have to be realistic you want gamers to embrace downloadable content then maker it a lot cheaper than disk. Don't tell me that I have to pay $60 to then require by policy that I can't do anything with my purchased property. Charge me $20 for the same content then my friends can try it out on my system and if they choose its not such a bank breaker to get it for myself. This would be realistic since you want me to buy into the game rental reality that is downloadable content. Also why is it so important to Xbox to have my console checking in everyday? I mean really this is ridiculous. How about the always on Kinect. That is totally creepy. In this day and age we the people must guard our privacy with the utmost vigor because it is be infringed upon by our government increasingly everyday. This is way to suspicious for many peoples taste and way to tantilizing for the NSA to not take advantage of and how will any of us know for sure that this is not happening. Just because your paranoid doesn't mean that they're not out to get you? I mean people all these things that we gamers wanted were things that wouldn't impeade the progress of the Xbox Ones success or competativeness; so, for some ignorant cant see the forest for the trees professor "Jesse Schell, professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center," I say to you, those who can't do teach, so stay in the classroom while the adults speak.


August 8, 2013, 6:07 pm

Microsoft were being upfront and honest and in this day and age that's a fault. Denial, mistruths, lies and cheating are the in thing. Well, until you get caught then the other deceitful crowd will point fingers like those with sin throwing the first, second and third stone and so on.

This also means I'm at fault for saying this using the aforementioned logic and the liars will want to throw stones at me. What has this to do with Microsoft? Well maybe they just have a really good product that deserves respect and the fact they are listening to people deserves even more respect.

The exception to the rule is that Sony admitted taking advantage of Microsoft's original stance on swapping and sharing games and drm and whipped up a frenzy but no one even really took blind notice of Sonys manipulation it seems and for some reason don't understand they could be the next recipients of such manipulation.

The sheep deserve all they get when they act like wolves themselves.


August 12, 2013, 5:41 am

The good professor is clearly an idiot or a mere shill. If he's got all the answers, why is he wasting his valuable time teaching when he could he helming his own giant company? Motto: "You want it - we ain't got it!"


August 12, 2013, 5:49 am

Not everyone buys into the whole 'The Cloud Is The Future' thing as enthusiastically as you seem to. Maybe YOU find that hard to believe, but that's not really that important


August 12, 2013, 5:56 am

I agree 100%. Unfortunately, many here appear to have been totally taken in by the whole 'Cloud' propaganda drive. Yes, there are upsides - but nobody wants to hear a word of downside for fear of appearing 'old-fashioned', 'Luddite', or 'Just So Yesterday'. These drones have even spared the powers that be the trouble of having to assimilate them.

Peter Garrido

August 15, 2013, 2:10 am

I like the word usage, bravo; however, you over did it a bit. I disagree with your view point. I stoutly feel without dissention we cannot expect to find an administraion that meets more in the middle rather we find ourselves being herded like sheep into a direction by their stratagems. We must look between the lines here. You must clearly see that some of what they changed were policies that stricly were to their benefit having nothing to do with making the system better for gaming purposes but rather the contrary. The just wanted to stick it to us as if we were the red headed step child... No pun intended towards all the wonderful gingers out there it simply a colorful reference. Ta ta, HarbungerOfLunch..

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