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

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.


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