Since announcing the Xbox One, Microsoft has seen gamers blasting the company on Facebook and Twitter for being ill-informed and dead-set against providing a great experience for consumers without price gouging.
Whether they are right or not remains unclear. For all of the hay some gamers made about having their Xbox Ones check-in every 24 hours to confirm that they still own their games, an even bigger group of people howled when they found out that by taking the feature away, Microsoft would be putting all of its gaming sharing functions on hold.
To this end, Microsoft has just announced that it’ll grant Xbox LIVE Gold users new privileges on Xbox One. Not only will it silence some of the critics, but it’ll finally put Sony on the public relations defense for once.
You see, for all Sony’s gorilla-like sniping at the Xbox One for being anti-consumer, only two issues have really stuck with consumers. The first is that Xbox LIVE puts all of its entertainment applications behind a paywall. Users can’t watch Netflix or Hulu Plus without a subscription to Xbox LIVE and a subscription to the service. For entertainment users, that kinda stinks.
The second issue that’s resonated with gamers is the charge that Microsoft is positioning their console in a way that just isn’t focused on gamers, and by extension has lost its focus. Together the two charges create a situation where those who are against buying an Xbox are against it on principle. They want a “true gaming console,” not just an entertainment device with gaming features. They crave a system that is focused on their needs.
Now with the gaming features restored to Xbox users, and the same used game policy, Sony’ll have to explain to gamers if they’ll have to pay PlayStation Plus for each account they want to get online. They’ll have to remind users what their policy is towards sharing content with friends and family.
After all, what’s more entertainment focused than trying to sell gaming consoles on the basis that entertainment services are free? What’s more non-gamer friendly than requiring anyone who wants to play multiplayer to pay per account? How do you explain to gamers who purchased a PlayStation Move that rather than stand behind your product in the next generation, you choose to take it out of the box so you could hit a cheaper price point and score some points with industry watchers? Those gamers will likely never experience the kind of deep gaming integration that Sony sold them on.
Sony scored some easy points in the early days. Playing on the fears of people who think the Kinect Sensor included with every Xbox One wass going to spy on them was a thing of genius. Throwing PlayStation Move overboard and sacrificing any in-roads you made with casual gamers was clever.
With today’s announcement, Microsoft isn’t behind anymore. The company is sending a message: “welcome back to the arena Sony, but in this game, we play all four innings.”