By David Wilkins.
In response to the severe public backlash received over the course of the E3 conference earlier this month, Microsoft have just announced a series of policy shifts regarding a number of its Xbox One plans.
In a bid to get consumers back on side, a new post on the Xbox blog titled ‘Your Feedback Matters – Update on Xbox One’ from Don Mattrick, President of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, outlines a series of U-turns on several of the system’s more controversial policies.
Changes include scrapping the proposed policy of activation fees for trade-ins and lending between friends, reverting to the same policy used on the Xbox 360. The hardware is also no longer region locked, meaning that games bought from anywhere in the world will now function on any given Xbox One system. Finally, Microsoft has removed the requirement to check-in online every 24 hours regardless of what the console is being used for. The console will still require an initial connection on its first start-up, but after this, connectivity will be entirely at the owner’s discretion.
An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again.
– Don Mattrick
Notably this is the second platform that Microsoft has recently backtracked on. Despite shipping a large number of units, Windows 8 has remained widely unpopular operating system. With some analysts attributing it to the drastic fall in PC sales over the last year.
This resulted in the announcement of the update ‘Windows 8.1’. Advertised as the response to consumer concerns such as the much-missed start button of previous Windows editions. Windows 8.1 will see a release in August, as Microsoft continues to run the message of ‘Your Feedback Matters’.
The impact of this announcement is likely to be significant; these DRM policies have undoubtedly been the key points holding Microsoft back on their message. Concerns regarding privacy and data handling have overshadowed Microsoft’s message of its system’s additional functionality from Kinnect and Smart Glass. This has resulted in the new technology acting as both one of the systems greatest assets and biggest drawbacks. Furthermore, the PS4 retains a cheaper price tag by the significant margin of $100. Whilst Sony may still be riding the momentum of its E3 success, the question is now whether they can carry that through until their release later this year.
Sony still has the advantage, but with several more gaming conventions still yet to come, a strong message from Microsoft could finally begin to level out a playing field as we head towards the hardware’s release this November.