It was inevitable in a sense.
Microsoft had to do it. They simply had to. No company could attempt to shill such greed-centric policies as these without feeling the commercial and critical sting.
After this year’s E3, preorders for the PlayStation 4 reportedly outstripped those of Xbox One by as much as 7:1 in many outlets; a terrifying figure that it is practically immune to corporate spin; something I’m sure Microsoft realised quickly, after all you can’t lie to yourself when the figures are calling you a fool to your face. Additionally, Microsoft PR and the higher execs such as Phil Spencer, Phil Harrison, Larry Hyb (Major Nelson) and ol’ Donny Matrick were getting roasted on a daily basis on forums, sites, interviews and on many other places that carried a voice.
They just couldn’t do it and despite their dogged, arrogant insistence they couldn’t sustain it. The market didn’t ask for it and Microsoft became a false prophet; plunging themselves down a lonely path that they thought would make them trailblazers; but instead they opposite happened, they became pariahs and today’s confirmation that they’ve U-turned on these terrifyingly stupid DRM policies is ample proof.
Now that they’ve done it, all the good that they can do will no longer be tainted by the specter of DRM, but that said there is still work for them to do and staunch challenges remain.
They need to sort out their anti self-publishing stance with indies and open the floodgates to the great creative minds out there which are operating in small studios. By doing that, they can ensure that they’ll stand in equal footing to Sony when it comes to discovering the next Minecraft, Journey or State of Decay. Along with that, they also need to ease off or even ditch the greed monetization that they charge to indies for certification and patching.
Charging an indie $50K to patch their own game is dire and I hope that they realise that shit of the magnitude simply cannot be allowed to continue. This generation should be about opening up the market, not closing it.
Next up, they need to cut the price of the console. I don’t care that Kinect comes with it and many others (pick your demographic) don’t either. A price cut doesn’t have to necessarily bring them in-line with the PS4 either (though that would be ideal), it just needs to be in the same ballpark that the cost issue is negligible.
Finally they need to develop Xbox Live Gold into the PlayStation Plus killer it needs to be as playing Halo: Reach and Assassins Creed 3 for free a year from now just isn’t going to cut it.
Overall though, this is positively great news that shows, on some level at least, that the Redmond giant isn’t deaf to critical backlash. Now, their games, their exclusives and everything that they do positively can be viewed on their own merits.
Shouldn’t it have been that way all along?
Click here to see the story (courtesy of Eurogamer) chronicling the policy reversal.