News, Views, and Reviews
NOW things are getting really interesting. Microsoft and Sony are releasing next-gen consoles later this year, possibly within weeks of each other, and are battling for exclusives and special deals and promotions to elevate their products above their competitors. It’s not enough to spend BILLIONS of dollars on hardware and software development, both companies are trying to make deals with HBO, the NFL, twitch.tv and hundreds of new independent developers. The competitions is heating up, and now it’s starting to sound like a political campaign.
Gamescom is happening this week, in Cologne, Germany, and Microsoft and Sony are flexing their muscles on and off stage. MS chose to have a more open, hands-on presence at the show, and Sony chose to have an hour long stage show which mimicked their stage show from E3. At the end of their Wednesday presentation, Sony’s worldwide president Andrew House got on stage and took a few jabs at Microsoft:
“While others have shifted their message and changed their story, we were consistent in maintaining a message that is fair and in tune with consumer desires,”
This is, of course, reference to Microsoft having to change course after receiving heat from their Digital Rights Management (or DRM) policies announced earlier this summer. Among other things, the new Xbox One would require an internet connection once every 24 hours to make sure the digital copies of games stored on its hard drive were legitimate, purchased copies, and not pirated in any way. Microsoft heard the outrage of gamers and, after nearly a week of being quite stubborn about it and getting even more heat, backed down and lifted many of the restrictions.
Instead of jabbing back at Sony, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer defended their decisions with this quote:
“Other people will do and say what they’re going to say. Fine. We’re running our program. That’s a strength of who we are.”
I think what is more amazing than MS not stooping to Sony’s level is that they are STILL taking the fall for this.
I bet we will never know how much of this was actually the PUBLISHERS pushing for DRM. They pushed and pushed. SONY invented and patented DRM technology months ago. http://techreport.com/news/24141/sony-patent-describes-rfid-infused-drm They were ready – and then they kept their mouth shut because they knew MS had to go second (Sony’s reveal was in February, MS’ reveal was in May) and MS would take all the heat. But MS DIDN’T ANNOUNCE anything at their show. That’s a myth that is already being circulated around. The rumors of DRM were already heating up, nothing was said on stage, so the press kept pushing MS to say something. Microsoft messed up and sent out mixed messages AFTER the show, which I will fault them for, though they did fire several of those people that screwed up. So, we heard mixed messages and statements that weren’t ready for the public yet. Sony responded to questions about DRM by saying stuff like “we aren’t discussing that at this time” and MS should have said the same thing. Remember what they BOTH said?
“that will be up to the publishers.”
So, after some mixed messages, MS had to own up and announce what the DRM would be – and still couldn’t get the message out, but guess what? It all applied to DIGITAL copies saved on the hard drive. I think that part gets overlooked a lot when discussing the “used game policies” that Microsoft was trying to explain. Anyway, little by little, the message started..sounding…good? People could share their digital libraries with up to 10 friends? Two people could be signed in on different Xboxes at the same time playing the same game? The person that owned the games didn’t even have to be signed in? This was some cool stuff! PC users have had DRM for 10+ years and never had it this good. But what about physical copies? OK, you could trade it once or sell it, once, and used game stores would have a way to make it available for future purchases…for a small fee.
THAT MICROSOFT WOULD NOT CHARGE.
Once again: “that will be up to the publishers.”
But the damage was done, nobody wanted to hear it. So yes, MS had to make another announcement:
“Never mind, trading/selling used games will be possible just like it is now, no new restrictions or codes or fees required. Unless a publisher wants to use them, “that will be up to the publishers”.” (Paraphrased.)
What was lost here, really? What did MS do wrong? They did exactly what the publishers wanted. They made tools available FOR THE PUBLISHERS to use, if they wanted, but MICROSOFT would not have charged any fees themselves. I also have to ask: how much of this is REALLY the publishers’ fault? And how much did MS have to BEG them behind closed doors so they could make the “never mind” announcement?? That’s why I think it was big of them to stand up there yesterday and NOT ADMIT IT. They could have easily said, “Hey, guess what, EA made us do it. Ubisoft made us do it. Those guys are jerks, not us.” But no, they’re taking the fall.
Meanwhile, Sony gets to act all smug and say they were “consistent.” Bravo, you said next to NOTHING for the last 6 months, of course you’ll sound consistent. But we’ll never know how close SONY was to using DRM technology that they PATENTED themselves!! They were going to do it, too! They even said “that will be up to the publishers.”
I started writing this blog last night, after Wednesday’s Gamescom events, but apparently Sony didn’t stop there. Andrew House has since fired back at Microsoft’s comment:
“We tend to stay away from over analysing what the competition is up to. But I’ll characterize it this way: I was surprised … we constructed our E3 presentation because there was somehow a suspicion that the policies and approaches taken by our competition would create an industry trend in that direction. The reason we made such a strong statement at E3, and continue to do so, is because we were surprised by that.
“We thought, perhaps slightly naively, that the current model worked quite well and was consumer friendly – and our goal was to be consistent on that. But given the speculation that was happening there, it apparently became necessary for us to make a statement and say what our intent was.”
I’m sorry, but I’ve gone from being a little amused with this banter to downright disgust at Sony LYING about it. They weren’t “surprised” by “an industry trend” they were fully aware of it. They were making plans and developing technology FOR it. They’ve more or less admitted in interviews that they changed course after seeing the reaction to MS’ policies. http://ps4daily.com/2013/06/sony-changed-playstation-4-drm-policy-after-xbox-one-outrage/
There is keeping quiet, not mentioning your DRM plans “we aren’t talking about that at this time” and then course correcting behind closed doors without the public hearing about it – and then there is flat out LYING like this. Wow.