Sunday, June 23, 2013

Microsoft Will Play Nice With Gamers

The gaming community has been talking up a storm about how the new XBox One (set to come out at the end of the year), but not all of the buzz has been positive buzz. In fact, when it was first announced, Microsoft shook things up by announcing that the XBox had to be played at least once every twenty-four hours, it would not allow used games, and players could let a friend borrow a game, but only once per purchased disc. Gamers around the world blew up forums and commenting sections claiming these new limitations were not only "stupid and unfair," but they were confusing and unnecessary. Hundreds, if not thousands, vowed online not to buy the XBox One because of the impact these rules would have on their beloved community, especially when it came to the policy on used games. Many video game stores/suppliers like Game Stop and Game Fly (a gaming version of the original Netflix) are profitable because of the used games they sell and rent. To put these companies out of business would forever change players' ability to buy games easily and for a reasonable price as many new games are between $50 and $80.

However, due to widespread backlash from gamers on the internet, Microsoft, in an unprecedented move, is now changing their policy! In the article "Backpedaling on Xbox One DRM Policies Is Precisely the Right Move by Microsoft," featured in TIME Magazine, Matt Peckham explains that this strategic move was necessary to save the Xbox. As Peckham puts it, "Microsoft was up in everyone’s business, in other words, for reasons that seemed more about business than doing right by buyers." It appears, though, that Microsoft could no longer ignore the overwhelmingly negative response on the Internet. So, in an effort to protect those business profits they had hoped to keep by limiting/removing game sharing, they removed the requirement of always-online game play and now will allow used games to be played as well as allow game lending.

In his article, Peckham expresses several remaining and extremely valid concerns: Microsoft will be "watching" and recording, albeit not all of the time now, and we don't know anything about their security or safeguards. He writes to Microsoft among other concerns, "Don’t patronize us in your upcoming Xbox One privacy FAQ, and don’t assume the only thing we care about when it comes to data aggregation and transmission is anonymity (or that that’s a sufficient definition of privacy and security)." Regarding the recent changes, Peckham heeds, "And remember, Microsoft can shift these policies as it likes," but give accolades to Microsoft for listening to its customers.

In the official statement made by Microsoft, there is a lot to be noted in the language used by the Microsoft PR team. Most importantly, I want to note the use of pronouns. The message was supposedly written by "Don Mattrick, President, Interactive Entertainment Business" (and it may have been.) Mr. Mattrick writes,
As is our heritage with Xbox, we designed a system that could take full advantage of advances in technology in order to deliver a breakthrough in game play and entertainment. We imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing, and new ways to try and buy games. We believe in the benefits of a connected, digital future. . . . Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One. . . . So, today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. . . . Thank you again for your candid feedback. Our team remains committed to listening, taking feedback and delivering a great product for you later this year.

Notice that he takes personal responsibility for both announcing good news and taking the opportunity to "thank" users for their "assistance." By using "I" here, Mattrick makes the changes seem more intimately meaningful, acting as the face of a company that people can relate to in this moment of celebration. However, he reserves "we" and "our" team for referencing Microsoft's commitment to delivering the best product available as well as for listening to and changing the policies because of the negative response. By carefully choosing what parts of this statement are from him, the man in charge, and what are from Microsoft the company, he is clearly trying to make sure that readers know that "the man" on top is both human and listens to customers, and the rest of Microsoft as an entire entity has similiar feelings. By doing this he is trying to remove the idea that Microsoft cares more about their bottom line than their customers, as is also the intended message of not only the statement but of the entire decision to change this policy.

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