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Xbox One’s DRM U-Turn Was a Great Idea

Xbox One’s DRM U-Turn Was a Great Idea

| On 21, Jun 2013

Jitterbug’s a great guy. But he recently wrote a post about Microsoft’s 180 on the Xbox One’s DRM policies being a bad idea. And he couldn’t have been any more wrong.

He acts as if the current DRM policies wouldn’t have a huge effect on sales, going so far as to say ‘what does it matter…if Sony sells eight times as many console preorders?’. Are you kidding? That early launch period is a crucial time for sales: you’ve got to get as many consoles as possible into people’s homes. Imagine that Microsoft didn’t do too brilliantly this Christmas. Flash forward to next summer, after a price drop and some great new features that justify the DRM. No one will suddenly pick up an Xbox One, for one simple reason: they wouldn’t have a need for one. You can envision families going to Best Buy, seeing the cheap new Xbox One and saying ‘Nah, don’t need one: I’ve already got a Sony GameStation 4’. Remember, Microsoft’s target market is your average family here.

The DRM policies had already created huge amounts of indignation within the hardcore gaming community, and that was starting to spread to the mainstream audience. Jokes on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, coverage from major websites, even just general word on the street: Microsoft were not receiving any good publicity. My thinking is that Microsoft were paranoid. They were paranoid that they couldn’t recover the Xbox One’s image in time for a November launch, and that this negativity would totally consume the press and advertising between now and launch. And that’s a justified fear: we all know how gamers’ hold grudges. We still joke about the PS3’s launch, for god’s sake.

By stemming the hate before it had a chance to spiral completely out of control, Microsoft may well have saved the Xbox One’s launch. Not just from a sales point of view, but also from a publicity point of view. Customer perception is crucial, and the Xbox One’s wasn’t positive at all. They had to change that, and I think they just have.

Jitterbug, you’re a great guy. But you completely missed the ball here. Except for one thing: fanboys have power. Crazy amounts of power. They actually managed to make Microsoft see sense, and that is remarkable.

  • Aaron Wise

    You totally missed the point. The reason it doesn’t matter how many pre-orders are sold is because both systems WILL sell out. You could sell 8 times as many PS4′s, but those orders are in limbo until the actual console ships, and many of them will be canceled if the shipment takes too long. The true battle for living room dominance doesn’t take place until after the consoles have been given a chance to exist on the shelves without people lining up to buy them. Both the X1 and the PS4 will sell fairly similar numbers of actual consoles through 2013 because the two companies can only feasibly supply a certain number. My point is that the true battle for the living room doesn’t take place until these two companies have more supply than demand, and that typically doesn’t happen until after the first couple of months that a system is out.

  • Shaxster

    I’d have to disagree with you there though as well. PS4 preorders had *already* sold out, Xbox One preorders hadn’t. Both companies had about 5 months to create more stock which they could sell at launch, and if Microsoft hadn’t done this U-turn PS4 would still have sold a lot more than X1. And once families had a PS4 this Christmas, they’d have no reason to buy an X1 next year.