I love that play on words above, and a one eighty it truly has been. Like many, I am truly amazed that Microsoft backpedaled this much.
And maybe I’m cynical, but I don’t trust it. This is how I see it (and its hardly a unique perspective). Microsoft knew that, all things equal, they would sell a crap load of systems, pretty much no matter what. They would sell a crap load of games. They would make money. Because they’re Microsoft, becuase they have the Xbox (and Halo) and they’ve been successful so far.
So what they did, was take a gamble. They said, lets throw out a maximum profit plan. There would be no room for their customers to wiggle out of their grip if they wanted their Xbox games. The publishers would make more, Microsoft would make more, and most retailers would probably make more as well.
And then they prepare contingency plans. How else would they have been able to backpedal on all this? Sure, most of what they were they were talking about was software, but it was built on this whole infrastructure. Either it won’t work as advertised, or they were prepared and already had a switch to flip.
I think they tried to pull some shit on consumers, knowing full well they might not get away with it. The rewards were just too much for them. But they already had a contingency to allow them to fall back.
This is not admirable. Saying your sorry after you get caught does not redeem you. There are plenty saying Microsoft will just try this again once they sell a bajillion consoles. I don’t necessarily think that’ll happen, at least not like this, but it certainly makes me wary. And it will certainly influence my buying behavior as a result.
Just to be clear on this, if they want to sell direct download games, great. I wouldn’t ever expect to sell that, because there is nothing to sell. I don’t expect to sell my iTunes songs, I don’t expect to sell my Steam games, I don’t expect to sell my ebooks, and I won’t expect to sell my digital games downloaded that way.
I’m also just going to throw this out there. You know what would be great? The ability to rent a digital game! Maybe not the whole thing, maybe just buying it in bite sized chunks, I don’t know, but I want to be able to try a game out. Is this asking too much? Does no one think they could sell the first third of a game for fifteen bucks and not make more money on impulse buys and upselling when the gamer buys the rest of the game? Or are they so afraid a gamer will realize it’s a shitty game and not follow up?