Microsoft’s poor communication skills with Xbox One

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

Xbox One
Is this a VCR? Oh wait, no, that’s the Xbox One’s “cutting-edge” design.

Forget Xbox versus PS4 for a moment. Let’s talk Microsoft versus itself. I mean, it’s taken a real beating recently in public opinion, and while we could talk about all the right things Sony’s done as far as communication, let’s set that aside, because it’s been Microsoft beating itself up!

Let’s take a look at the meaning of the phrases, “shooting yourself in the foot” and “inserting your foot in your mouth,” because that’s what Microsoft’s been doing with the Xbox One. They’ve gotten themselves all in a twist. See, the drama first started in May, when Xbox One was first officially unveiled. Whereas PS4 focused on games and marketing itself as a gamer-centric system, Xbox One immediately alienated – pushed away – its core audience of gamers by focusing on their new system as a glorified television set-box. Okay, not the end of the world, since we know they were saving their game-focused stuff for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in June – and they did reveal some very cool looking games at their conference.

What started the real trouble was when they were asked questions about trading pre-owned games and rumors started popping up about online connection requirements. First, they didn’t have a clear answer, almost like they were hiding something. You know when you’ve done something that’ll make somebody mad, and you don’t give them a straight answer when they call you on it? Well, after months of dancing around, all those rumors came true.

What rumors? That Xbox One requires you to have logged into the internet every 24 hours, otherwise you can’t  play games that you’ve purchased. Turns out, it’s true. That’s right, if you’re a soldier in Afghanistan and you haven’t had internet connection for 24 hours, guess what? You can’t play the games that you’ve already purchased. Going further, Xbox One has very tough Digital Rights Management (DRM) safeguards in place – a way for companies to avoid having their products stolen or traded away. In fact, you can only “lend” games to someone if you’ve had them on your friends list for more than 30 days or they’re one of ten “family” members you’ve identified in a list.  In other words, you can’t just share games like the old days, where you just hand the disc to a buddy.

Much of this DRM-heavy “strategy” stems from the fact that Microsoft is betting on a future where most games are bought digitally, online, rather than from an actual store. They think Gamestop will disappear the way that Blockbuster video stores did after Netflix and Hulu became more popular. Speaking of which, you can’t even use Netflix and Hulu services, unless you’re paying an online fee to Microsoft for access to their Xbox Live internet service!

The real slap in the face, though, came at E3, where Microsoft’s chief of interactive entertainment, Don Mattrick said, “…we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity, it’s called Xbox 360.” In other words, don’t have internet or want to play your games offline for more than 24 hours? Tough luck kid, just stick with the old Xbox 360. With the tough competition from PS4, it’s more likely people will just stick to a PS4 instead.

Moral of the story? Trust your customers and watch what you say.

Images courtesy of Microsoft.