Did Microsoft Bend Because of Sony Or the Market?

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Let me start off by saying this is by no means an attack on Sony or the PlayStation 4, so put your flames away. This is just my own opinion on the situation and not meant in any way to talk negatively about the PlayStation 4 and any of its features.

It was announced on Wednesday that Microsoft had changed the DRM features they announced for the XBox One would be removed. Microsoft stated that XBox One owners would now have the ability to play without being logged online every 24 hours or having to worry about the disc being console locked. Immediately, there was a massive outcry saying that it was a huge win for the PlayStation 4.

But that’s not entirely accurate. When you think about it, the huge lead given for the PlayStation 4 announcement happened where it was shown that one console would have these DRM rules while one wouldn’t. As we’ve seen in every race, it’s not over until it’s over.

I’m certainly not saying that Microsoft is back in the lead as Amazon presales have shown that PlayStation 4 took a nice lead in the week following E3. And I don’t think before launch they are going to take the lead. A hundred dollar difference in price point is certainly going to be a factor as well. And the long tail race ahead is meant for another article.

In my gut, I feel like there was some behind the scenes conversation, much like a scene from a mafia movie, where the two families came together and said there would be some form of DRM in place but didn’t get into the details. Microsoft thought Sony was going full on and Sony didn’t necessarily lie because they did institute the “opportunity” for DRM to appear. When Microsoft lead with the first shot, Sony saw the chance to pull their punch and give themselves the advantage. What I will say though is I don’t believe that Microsoft made their change in the DRM plan because of Sony.

Whatever the reason for the disparity between the two systems and the fact that the benefits of Microsoft’s DRM never made it to discussion above the slew of memes declaring the winner to the console generation, Microsoft saw the consumer response and knew they had flubbed. Much like a race car that blows a tire in the first lap, you don’t force yourself to continue another twenty laps. You pull over, get it changed and start regaining ground. And that’s what Microsoft did because ultimately they need to listen to the consumer, not the competition. If they listened to the competition, there would have been an announcement of a tablet controller and glowing orbs on the controllers. But Microsoft saw the impact of their decision and decided to right their wrong.

If there had not been a negative backlash in sales, Microsoft would have kept its model but it was clear that the sharing features and possibility of cheaper price points were not what the market wanted. It is a shame since that was a model originally rejected when Steam was launched but ultimately helped lead a revitalization in PC gaming. But it wasn’t what the market itself demanded so Microsoft changed their mind and went back to the model that allowed companies like GameStop to remain in business and ultimately help themselves and not the developers who create the games people claim to love so much and keeps games at $60 to compensate for used titles being resold multiple times.

For more rants regarding the gaming industry and the ongoing XBox One and PlayStation 4 war, stick to the Flickcast!

 

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