Wednesday, June 12, 2013

From bad to worse: How Microsoft is digging their own grave

I’m unsure how Microsoft could have made their situation at E3 worse, but they pulled it off. A comment made by Microsoft rep Don Mattrick, recently hit the internet to overwhelming shock from Xbox fans. Responding to questions from Gametrailers, Don Mattrick addressed the concern about the console needing to connect to the internet at least once every 24 hours.
"Fortunately we have a product for people who aren't able to get some form of connectivity; it’s called Xbox 360. If you have zero access to the Internet, that is an offline device.”
Is Microsoft truly unaware of how critical fans have been in regards to the online connection policy? This statement would point to that conclusion, but even worse were statements he made only a few moments later.
“Seriously, when I read the blogs and thought about who’s really the most impacted there was a person who said, ‘Hey I’m on a nuclear sub.’ And I don’t even know what it means to be on a nuclear sub but I’ve got to imagine it’s not easy to get an internet connection. But hey, I can empathize; if I was on a sub I’d be disappointed."
The offhandedness of his comments along with his casual approach to a major concern of fans is astounding. The man in the submarine is not alone by any means. There are tens of millions of gamers out in the world who don't have access to stable internet, or even internet period to whom Microsoft just raised a big middle finger.

The arrogance of these comments and the way they are handling the debacle is repulsive. Microsoft is attempting to place the blame on consumers about why they can't play the Xbox One. Internet is a luxury, Mr. Mattrick. It's expensive out here in the real world, especially for those who don't have easy access to it. I know you rich boys heading up the Xbox division think it's a non-issue, but the reality is that it is a very big issue.You are asking people to pay for a luxury in order to use a luxury.

You already have features that cannot be accessed without internet. Things like Skype, Netflix, your internet browser, Bing search engine. All of these require internet to function. And that's okay. People are not expecting to be able to use internet based features if there is no internet. It's a given that these will be dead to rights for any home that is offline. That being said, the main reasoning of the gaming console is to play games. Turning your console into a $500 VCR and TV remote just because you cannot access the net once every 24 hours is mindbogglingly stupid. There is no other way to describe it. It is an idiotic policy, penned by moronic administrators.

You are literally destroying your fan base by millions of customers. You have sold 75 million Xbox 360 units, yet you only have 40 million XBL members, and your goal is to sell 1 billion X1 consoles? You are either delusional or have little to no higher brain function. It's not 2030, Microsoft. The global net is still being built. Very few countries in the world have the luxury of stable internet, and even then, not all regions or consumers do. People are at the mercy of individual companies, some of which are great, others who are not so. The X1 is basically telling people to take a  train across the county before the Transcontinental Railroad has even been started. It's going to take years, perhaps even decades, before a global network has been created that is stable enough to be completely reliable.

On top of that, Xbox Live itself is never fully reliable. Service has been disrupted for days at a time in previous years. Anytime this happens, gamers still had the chance at playing while offline. There is also the possibility that Xbox Live could be hacked, much the same way Playstation was that shut down PSN for 2 months. No security system is invulnerable, and with controversial statements like these, Microsoft is almost inviting an attack. If either of these scenarios happen, tens of millions of consumers are going to be left with a large, shiny brick on the top shelf. Sure they can use it to change the television channel, but so can this ingenious device called a remote control. People don't need a voice activated remote. They need a gaming console.
“It’s a service-based world, if you think about things and how they get better with an internet connection, that’s a design choice we’ve made. I think people will appreciate it... We did a lot of testing, a lot of consumer research and I think we made a good choice.”
 It seems stockholders would disagree with that assessment, Don. Your stock dipped severely after you made this statement. Sure it will climb back after the shock, but will the people return as well? The internet is abuzz with your disregard for your fans. People should not be forced into something like online connectivity. All of your "exclusive" titles mean nothing to those who wouldn't be able to play them. Are used games such a significant issue that you are willing to give a big old "fuck you" to your loyal fans? People have enjoyed playing on Xbox for more than a decade. Gamers delighted in playing exclusives like Halo or Gears of War, and next-gen gamers were looking forward to continuing that trend. Based on the feedback we've seen, that doesn't seem to be a realistic expectation anymore.

With the recent news that Microsoft may also be deleting youtube vids that address this issue and using PR management to skew online opinion, your credibility is suspect on a great many things. Are the reports of console pre-orders correct? Are there millions of people snapping up the Xbox One almost 6 months before launch? Is the hype real, or is it being forced the same way the applause was during your announcement conference? Your representatives have been contradicting each other in interviews for over a month, and fans are tired of it. Which is it Microsoft? Are you really concerned about your fans and their opinions? Because your statements suggest otherwise. This is not about people who feel Microsoft is trying to "mother" them by calling in once a day. This is about the people who can't.
"We appreciate the passion," Mattrick said. "It's important that people share their ideas, but people are imagining outcomes that we believe are worse than what it's going to be like in the real world.
No Don, we aren't.

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