Oh god. Did I really title this article that? I did. Let’s move on. Please, as fast as possible. Since the Xbox One was unveiled, Microsoft has been performing this seemingly unending dance of going back on intended features of the system. First it had this restrictive DRM policy for disc-based games, but would have unprecedented digital sharing potential. Also it needed a Kinect, which was always on, watching…judging. Also with the way the internet reacted to the initial offering of the XONE, I assume it also devoured your first child whole, giving Don Mattrick its vitality.
Microsoft listened to their consumers though. They got rid of the DRM stuff in a day one patch, made it so you could unplug the Kinect, and hide it away from the NSA, and I assume the console no longer eats babies (I don’t know, I don’t own one). However, the price of the console was still $499.99, compared to the PS4’s $399.99. It has long been assumed the price difference was because of the cost of a Kinect, and the baby-devouring tech. At least one of those theories has been proven correct as Microsoft has announced today that a new SKU for the XONE will be coming this June, in the form of a Kinect-less console, for $399.99. This change will no doubt make it easier for people to choose an XONE, especially if they didn’t like the idea of a Kinect mocking their clothing choices. At the same time, I have to imagine this infuriates game devs who have been working on Kinect games, as now 100% of the install base won’t necessarily have a Kinect.
Microsoft isn’t done there folks. In their effort to make the XONE a game system people want to buy, rather than the large stack of unpurchased consoles sitting 30 deep in a Best Buy, Microsoft is expanding their Games for Gold program. Originally conceived as an analogue to PS Plus, it differed in one key area. While PS Plus gave not so old games that you may have wanted to try but didn’t, Microsoft gave you extremely old titles, that you most likely have purchased, returned for credit, then purchased again for five dollars a few years later. Realizing this idea was a sick joke inflicted on the people giving them money for things, the people over in Redmond are now making sure better games are getting into the hands of their Gold subscribers. For the 360 owners, Dark Souls, Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition and Charlie Murder are all coming next month, which represents a very strong showing compared to months past. The same program is better expanded on the Xbox One, with Max:Curse of the Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault coming for free to subscribers.
Past these better deals coming for the Microsoft faithful, those who refuse to buy into the Gold service are also being well served. For years now, since the Xbox 360 offered video and streaming services, the use of the apps have been walled off by an Xbox Live Gold subscription. They didn’t care if you already paid your &7.99 a month for Netflix, Microsoft was going to get theirs as well. That is going to be the case no longer. It seems all of their apps, from Netflix, to Skype, to MLB.TV will be completely available, regardless of Xbox Live membership. The PS3 has been doing this all along, as well as the PS4, so to see Microsoft finding parity with this is nothing but a boon to its user base.
The sum total of these changes make evident a fundamental shift in the philosophy of Microsoft’s Xbox division. Under Don Mattrick, the XONE was envisioned as a multimedia device, meant to be the hub for all interactions with the TV. In pushing this dream for a Microsoft-dominated living room, the games got pushed to the side, and tucked under the watchful eye of a mandatory Kinect. Mattrick is gone now, doing something over at Zynga, and Phil Spencer has stepped in to right the ship of Microsoft’s gaming efforts. Spencer seems to be a person who wants the XONE to be a video game console first, and a media device second. He wants to get games into the hands of those loyal customers, and let them engage with the other things, the Kinects, the Netflix’s, etc on a basis that more matches their personal taste. It seems the Xbox One is done forcing things down the throats of its base, and really all gamers will be better off for it.
Source: Xbox News