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.