Make no mistake: Microsoft took all their toys and went home

Microsoft gave up today. They gave up on their vision of the future and the future of their console to respond to the apparently large public outcry over Xbox One having to "phone home" every 24 hours just to keep playing games (the primary function of a gaming console, mind you). But instead of clarifying their reasoning behind this restrictive DRM policy, or finding a compromise, they packed up their stuff and left.

Some of the compromises they could have come up with:

  • a monthly check for your game subscriptions instead of daily.
  • an opt-in/opt-out for people who don't have reliable internet, or internet at all (you can play single player games offline, but you can't share this title with any friends)
  • leave disc-based games the way they are today and kept all the digital download stuff eligible to be shared

These have been posted here ad nauseum. But none of them were chosen. Instead, Microsoft ended up being the spoiled brat:

Fine, if you don't want to play my game the way I want to play it, I'm going home! And I'm taking family sharing with me!

That's no way to behave as a company, especially one with such bad PR that nobody was really quite sure which policies were written in stone already, and which questions they had to make up answers to on the fly, or dodge entirely.

No internet access? Buy our 8-year-old system. It's the offline Xbox.

Today was a win for console gaming, whether the people with Stockholm Syndrome would admit it or not. We get to keep first-sale rights, and the ability to loan, trade-in, or sell games at our own discretion, without waiting for some undisclosed day in the future when "loaning or renting" is a feature they have figured out how to enable. Sure, the "future" of all-digital gaming just got set back another 5 or 10 years, but it will come when it's ready, not when Microsoft force-feeds it to us. Maybe then the gaming community will be better prepared, or even welcome the change. It's definitely going to be an interesting journey until then.