Microsoft’s “Backpedalling” is a Good Thing

Aug 13, 2013

The internet (including Geeks With Wives) has decided that Sony is beating Microsoft in regards to the next generation announcements.  At E3, fans applauded Sony for their stance on DRM, independent developer support, offline play and price point.  They have been silent from this point.  They threw down the gauntlet, why do they need to say more?

Since then, Microsoft has backpedaled on their stances.  After E3 they have announced that they have changed their policy on DRM as well as the need to be online once per 24 hours to play games.  Recently they announced easier publishing regulations: Xbox One game developers can publish their own games, removing the need for a Microsoft-certified publisher to distribute a game.  And now, Microsoft let us know that the Kinect is not a required piece of their console.

We are nearly 3 months removed from E3.  The Xbox One is still active in the news while there has been little additional information regarding the PlayStation 4.  While Microsoft is still “playing catch up” with Sony, their process has kept the name Xbox One in the news.

Most gaming enthusiasts are already well read on this subject.  They know all the details regarding the consoles.  Seemingly, many have already made their decision on what console they’ve chosen.  However, many people do not follow so closely.  For the people still up in the air, they are not receiving a high amount of information regarding PlayStation.  They are not opening news reports and regularly seeing reminders that the PS4 is coming out soon. Sony hasn’t even given a date for customers to expect to be able to pick up the console.  What potential customers are seeing is a news report of Xbox One policy updates.

Microsoft is closing the gap between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4.  There are still some noticeable differences.  Most people still appreciate the $100 price difference, but what if next month Microsoft announces that the Xbox One will also be available at $399?  At this point what is the difference?  Obviously there will still be some differences, but for the standard gamer there will not be a game-changing difference to help make the console choice.  What there will be is a high amount of news reports, blog posts, opinion pieces and other internet posts about the Xbox One.  For someone going to the store (online or brick-and-mortar) Xbox One will be fresh on their mind.  What decision will they make?  To say that the bombardment of Xbox One news would not play a factor in sales would be to be burying our head in a hole of personal preferences.

I know that many PlayStation fans will disagree.  I expect this to be met by a list of things PlayStation 4 will do different than the Xbox One.  Being a gamer that reads/listens to as much information as I can, I would likely do the same thing.  However, I was also in the position where I had to choose a console.  The deciding factor for buying the PS3 over the 360 was not due to indie support, controller differences or even processor pros and cons.  The decision was based on news reports that Blu Ray beat HD-DVD.  Since then I have read more.  I now own a 360 as well as the PS3.  While we may have negative opinions on Microsoft’s handling of policy changes, we should not dismiss the power of keeping your product in the mind of the potential consumers.