IMO: Can Microsoft save the Xbox One?Platforms: Microsoft Xbox One
Microsoft have made mistakes. Many mistakes. For core gamers the Xbox One is now a platform that many won't even consider - which could be a shame as from the games we saw at E3, their new console is the one that really ticked all of the boxes in terms of quality exclusives and a wide range of launch titles that would appeal to all areas of the market. RYSE, Halo and Forza are set to be genre defining experiences and for the developers of those games it's a real shame that the botched console launch will, at best, taint and at worst kill them as ongoing IP.
To all intents and purposes, Microsoft were being forward thinking with their third console - making it a cloud gaming device that made sharing and playing games easier. Unfortunately, this brought with it ill-considered DRM and consumer-limiting restrictions that the core market isn't willing or able to accept.
These problems, coupled with the PR disaster that has unfolded over the last few days (no - the Xbox 360 ISN'T a good enough answer for those who might have connectivity problems), have conspired to put a massive black cloud above the Xbox One, and by extension Microsoft's intentions within the gaming market. And what of the latest tactic of silence? That's not going to help either - damage limitation is the name of the game and unless they start doing something soon that damage may become terminal.
The most baffling aspect of this who sorry mess is that the company seem to be AVOIDING publicising the console's biggest advantage - one which not only benefits from the licencing arrangements Microsoft are making but also makes gaming CHEAPER for Xbox One owners. That is the ability for users to share their games AND play them at the same time. This means that a friend can make use of your shared library to play a game that you're also playing simultaneously. The obvious benefit being that you only need to buy one copy of the game between you to both benefit; great for families but also a good way to work with friends to bring down the costs of new games by half. This isn't a loophole - it's a specific clause in the Microsoft licencing documentation AND has been confirmed by Xbox support. This kind of thing is what will make cloud based something that all of us can benefit from.
What can Microsoft do to get themselves out of the hole they're continuing to dig? One would hope that plans are already afoot to modify policies, discuss options with publishers and to become more embracing of the gaming community. Even giving a completely offline option for single player games would be a massive step in the right direction. For all the talk of the Xbox One being a one-box solution for the living room; gaming is still core and by entering the race at a technical AND price disadvantage when up against the PlayStation 4, Microsoft can't afford for their policies to give them ANOTHER hurdle to overcome.
It's not too late - they have the gaming lineup of a winning console; now it's time to drop the requirement to dial home daily (just do it when it IS online and change content right then) and allow consumers to sell their discs and drop the restrictive major retailer-supporting DRM. Do that and they might be able to overcome the problems they've created for themselves. A new PR strategy is a must too - and maybe start talking positively to indie developers and enticing them back over to the Xbox; thereby removing one of the PlayStation 4's longer term advantages in the process.
There are other problems with the Microsoft strategy - these can be dealt with later, but right now damage limitation and consumer appeasement are likely to be the only things that will get gamers back on board. Microsoft should ignore their core audience needs at their peril - they can win this war on games, but only if they don't alienate their previous supporters.