An Open Letter to the Minds Behind the Xbox One
To anyone at Microsoft that stumbles upon this blog,
I’m going to solve your problems.
It’s no secret that many of us here at Griffin are gamers. It’s also no secret that we pride ourselves on having some of the best customer support in the consumer electronics industry. To the gamers among us, this makes the policies behind the new Xbox One sort of, well, bone-headed. Xboned, as the kids say.
Let me clarify. I’m an Xbox fanboy – a brand ambassador, if you will. I have thrown my hard-earned dollars at you since the very first Xbox and have been on Xbox Live for almost 10 years (under two Gamertags). I’m proud to say so.
What I don’t understand is why you are in the PR nightmare in which you currently find yourselves. Don’t get me wrong, you deserve it 100%. The policies you’ve announced are elitist at best and anti-consumer at worst … for consoles.
Look, I know what you’re trying to do. The PC ecosystem has been this way for years now. Disc-based games aren’t the future. Going digital-only means lower costs and higher margins for you and other publishers. It also means lower prices on games for consumers. But you can’t just smack people in the face like this. We need to be incentivized and eased into paradigm shifts. Eased into it. EASED. INTO. IT.
Got it? Good. Onward to the solving.
Here are a few things to say and implement to clean this mess up in a jiffy:
The 24 hour online check-in is not required if the game disc is in the tray. If the disc is NOT in the tray when a game is started, then the console will check network status every 24 hours and authenticate the game on the hard drive.
If a developer wants to offload rendering or processing functions to the cloud, then that developer needs to make it very clear on the box that the specific game requires online to function. This should be a feature of the game, not a requirement of the console. You passed the buck to publishers with used games. You could just as easily pass this buck to developers.
Speaking of which …
If you buy a used game and DO have an internet connection, then the game will install, authenticate, and be able to be played without the disc – just like buying a new game. This will revoke the authentication on the Xbox One on which it was originally played (i.e. the person who traded it in).
Most likely, [insert used game retailer here] would need to have an agreement to do an install and authentication upon trade-in to immediately transfer ownership and prevent abuses.
If you buy a used game and DON’T have an internet connection, then the disc will be required to play every time (i.e. this is how it’s always been). [insert used game retailer here] would have the authentication in-store, so the original owner of the game wouldn’t be able to abuse the system.
You can share games just as you normally would – similarly to the used games system listed above. You would not be able to play the game while your friend has it, and once you got it back and re-authenticated (again, only required if you have an internet connection), you would be able to resume playing it. Pretty much no different than lending a game now. Games are able to be lent to as many people as the owner wants because only one person can play it at a time. As an added bonus, the sharing of games among family accounts now becomes a differentiating perk for the console.
OPEN YOUR EARS
Swallow your pride and open your ears. Pay people to go read forums and report on what they find (instead of paying said people to leave false-positive comments for your product). This is what we, at Griffin, call “listening to your customers.” It may be difficult to hear some of the things that will undoubtedly be said, but it will make your lives much, much easier – and your products much, much better.
Bottom line time. Make the online a mind-blowing perk for people who have it, not a way to enter the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest middle finger shown to a consumer base.
Problem solved, Microsoft – easy peasy. Have my consultation fee wired to me in no more than 30 days time. I’ll be emailing you every 24 hours to check on it’s status.
thatFunkymunkey – Xbox fanboy and (probably) future PlayStation 4 owner