Can I be honest with you for a moment? I must confess that I wanted Microsoft DRM policy standards to reign down its wrath on the head of console gamers everywhere. It’s the only the industry was going to move forward with its old constructs in to the present digital age that we surround ourselves in. But there are couple of obstacles that Sony and Microsoft (including Nintendo most of all) have to hurdle before they even begin to pull the bullshit the Microsoft tried to pull a month before E3. As a business grad, nothing make me more interested to see two or three companies try to gain a larger market share while one shines like the beacon of hope and the other trips and fall and await their impending doom like the many victims in your favorite horror movie.
Rumors of an “always online” console began to circulate this year as consumers were eagerly anticipating new consoles being released this year. This left a bitter taste in the mouths of the gaming community and the whelps of negative feedback fell on the deaf ears of the console manufacturers, or so it seemed. In March, Electronic Arts released the “always online” game, Sim City(2013), and people completely failed to even play the single player game because of server issues. Even with the writing on the wall, Microsoft continued to let the details of their online policy leak out on to the internet with disregard for the consumers concerns. Strike One, Microsoft
So arrives the day of the unveiling of the Xbox One, and all is well until Microsoft executives are ask about the DRM policy. Because of the poor lack of communication and red flags being waived by the gaming community, Microsoft PR decided to let the head honchos go into the wild and send a mixed and uninformed message about the controversial policy that soon to be put forth on every consumer that may want an Xbox One. Strike Two, Microsoft.
A week or so later, Microsoft decides to “clear up” the matter by releasing a press statement about the DRM Policy that confused the hell out of anybody who didn’t have a doctorates in the English language. All in all, Microsoft fucked themselves into a corner that anybody that took a freshman level business course could have navigated themselves out, but instead Strike Three, Microsoft is out and Sony has a prime opportunity to rid themselves of the ghosts of E3 past consisting of giant enemy crabs, forcing gamers to get second jobs, and lost exclusive titles.
Sony kicks down the door and baptizes the gaming community with the blessings of a DRM-free console and a hundred dollar price undercut that would make any businessman proud because of the way Sony gained all their momentum back heading into November. PS4 pre-orders outpace the Xbox One, bloggers and games are spreading the good news of a console that won’t slave chain their console to an internet router for the next decade, and 72 smoking hot virgins are waiting for all of the Sony execs when they get back to the office the Monday after E3. All is well in Sonyland.
One week later, After Microsoft had spread their STD virus of “F you” to gamers everywhere (see the dumb-ass quotes from Don Mattrick post-E3) and Microsoft comes out the clinic and denounce the disease that plagues their minds and bodies and show a clean test stating that they are now DRM-free and will have similar policy to the current Xbox 360. This “Xbox 180” of their DRM policy response is getting positive feedback, but now the gaming community is responding with disgust and lack of apathy for the poor decision making of the Microsoft head executives especially one week after Sony pooped on their parade.
The consumer side of me wants to grab my pitchfork and join the other blogs and podcasts (see the first 30 minutes of Weekend Confirmed podcast Ep. 170 or maybe the upcoming Giant Bombcast) in crucifying Microsoft for the pain and heartache they caused some of us last week, but the truth of the matter is that some of us are ready, most of us are not. So what the hell was going through Microsoft’s narrow mind in the last 6 months to not see this shit storm was going to happen when they released their catastrophe of a policy on us consumers?
Let’s go back to the classroom Microsoft. If you and your competitors (Sony, and I guess Nintendo???) have similar offerings, but share the same market space as far as consumers, what do you have to do differentiate yourself from the competition??? I’m going to give you a full week to figure this one out since Microsoft seems to be working on this still, but you may need only 10 seconds to figure this out.
Let’s try….hmmm I don’t know…..OPTIONS????
Yes, I going with giving my consumers options when it comes to a marketplace that doesn’t want or need an “always online” console to gain the upper hand on my competitors so we don’t fall behind financially.
Option 1 - Multiple SKUs
How about a console SKU for those who are not going to move their Xbox ever with extra perks for those who opt into a DRM console, while having another SKU that allows their console to work like those in the past without constrictions of an online check-in. Perks can consist of an instant feedback service of online behavior that restricts people from acting like total jerks when playing their favorite online game or anti-cheating detection, or just make up your own perk. Use your imagination, it’s not hard. This seems most sensible to me, but we’re not dealing with sensible.
Option 2 – Limit license transfers
Microsoft could make you designate your game license to a certain amount of accounts, but wipes it from your Xbox if you don’t have the disc after a week, (or 3 days, not just one fucking day)This way you can still share the game while having it installed with the disc, but give consumers a reasonable time limit to acquire the same disc back, but to prove that piracy isn’t taking place, if more than one of those accounts try to play the game online at the same time the game license is wiped from the consoles that haven’t checked in the disc. See a nice middle ground, Microsoft.
Option 3 – Accept Piracy is going to happen
Microsoft no matter how much you want your gaming console to be a PC, it’s not and will be treated as such until broadband penetration is greater here in America and across the globe. Provide those that purchase the game legally far better experience that those that may hack or mod their console to play the same games. Apple had this same problem with the jail breaking of their iOS devices, until they provided all of the features that would make jail breaking their device obsolete. So be patience and provide an opportunity to reward gamers, publishers, and studios that decide to participate in the business model instead of circumventing it or cramming it down our throats.
Really, I can’t wait for these new consoles to hit the market and the jousting between Sony and Microsoft to continue. It's very rare that consumers win in proprietary hardware and software based demand, but the gaming community should rejoice that Microsoft made this decision sooner than later. But instead of taking our frustrations out on dumb blogs, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, we need to vote with the power that in our back pockets (or purses if you are a lady).
Please feel free to add any more viable options or comments that these overpaid, MBA holding, business sheep of men couldn’t figure out before they decide to annouce their product for their consumers. I’m sure our community has better ideas than those suits.