Legitimate regret, or clever PR?

Microsoft raised a few eyebrows with their initial Xbox One announcement when they proclaimed that the new console would be subject to much tougher restrictions on when, where and how you would play your games.

Their proclamation that users must always be online, could not lend games to friends and could only buy or sell 2nd hand through participating retailers led many to pledge allegiance to Sony’s PS4 before much had even been released about it.

But just a couple of weeks after the PS4 was unveiled at E3, Microsoft have done a complete one eighty on their initial pledges, much to the rejoice of Xbox fans worldwide. Said fans have been quick to proclaim that it was their protests that led to Microsoft’s change of heart, but is it as simple and clear cut as that?

To my mind, one of three things has happened:

1) Microsoft thought that Sony would introduce similar restrictions on the PS4, so thought that it wouldn’t be a deciding factor for consumers.

2) Microsoft listened to feedback from, well, everyone, and decided to relax the rules through fear of a consumer backlash.

3) Microsoft never actually planned to implement the restrictions in the first place and this has all just been to generate news and hype over the new console.

Think about it; when the initial announcement came out there was a huge backlash from fans all over social media outlets and blogs. Of course, it was mostly negative, but there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and it did make sure that the mainstream media was cleanly focussed on Microsoft, and not Sony.

Then, after Sony’s show stealing announcement at E3, Microsoft announce their change of heart and suddenly everyone loves them. Yet more posts appear on Facebook and Twitter, and the entire gaming community praises them for listening to their consumers and acting upon feedback.

But through all of this, Microsoft haven’t actually done anything. The Xbox One isn’t even out yet, so everything that Microsoft had said about the new rules was purely speculative on their part. Yet the amount of mainstream media coverage they’ve received is huge when compared to Sony.

What’s more, people are actually thanking them for removing restrictions that had never even been implemented in the first place. Gaming blogs around the globe are praising Microsoft for what they aren’t doing, not what they are doing. The whole thing seems backward to me.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not against Microsoft or their new plans, I’m still going to buy an Xbox One and a PS4 as soon as I can afford to. I just question whether or not there was ever any legitimate threat to Xbox users.

Personally, I’ll continue to do most of my gaming on PC rather than console; at least that way you know when you’re being screwed.

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