Microsoft Finally Addresses Xbone Blunders
All it took was five minutes and a harsh anti-consumer strategy for Microsoft’s Xbox One to go from an eighth generation contender to an also ran. The Xbox One would lock games to an owner’s account to prevent the buying, selling, and trading of second hand games. In order to facilitate this the console required an always active internet connection to ensure that users were not playing another person’s game discs, making the console completely unviable in areas without a stable internet connection – to say nothing of the fact that Xbox Live is regularly down for hours at a time for scheduled maintenance. If Microsoft had actually gone ahead with this then they would have made Xbox Live the biggest target on the internet for DDoS attacks.
This policy only lasted two weeks before Microsoft had to scrap it, but by this time the reputation of Xbox was already in tatters. To make matters worse, Microsoft may have scrapped their always online plans, but they refused to scrap Kinect until some time after launch. This meant that for a significant period of time Xbox One was priced $100 more expensive than the PS4. The bad Xbox reputation coupled with an unpalatable pricing set Xbox One on a course to selling roughly half as well as the PS4, which continues to this day.
Microsoft has never addressed this dark time in their history, and if asked Phil Spencer would likely go into his regular spiel about how important Xbox fans are to Microsoft. This week we have something different though, as a Microsoft executive has finally broken silence over their blunder. Yusuf Mehdi has taken to Linked-In to tell his side of the story, and the results are less than convincing.
“Doing the right thing is not always the easiest thing and that will be the truest test of your values as a company and your commitment to real customer-centricity. We’ve experienced these challenges ourselves with Xbox. With our initial announcement of Xbox One and our desire to deliver breakthroughs in gaming and entertainment, the team made a few key decisions regarding connectivity requirements and how games would be purchased that didn’t land well with fans. While the intent was good – we imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing and new ways to try and buy games, we didn’t deliver what our fans wanted. We heard their feedback, and while it required great technical work, we changed Xbox One to work the same way as Xbox 360 for how our customers could play, share, lend, and resell games. This experience was such a powerful reminder that we must always do the right thing for our customers, and since we’ve made that commitment to our Xbox fans, we’ve never looked back.”
Mehdi frames the Xbox One’s always online requirement as a requisite of facilitating all these cool things like game sharing, rather than the game sharing being a mere carrot used to get gamers to accept their loss of ownership and control over their game library. Best of possible intentions, right? This is all bullshit though – and here is why. All of these fun game sharing features could have been enabled for owners of digital content, which would have been super nice of Microsoft. Microsoft did not choose to do this however, as the prize they were after was no longer on the table. Microsoft had the worst of possible intentions, and nothing they were doing was for the benefit of their customers. This revisionist version of history is just a sickening attempt at damage control now that the debacle is no longer fresh in people’s minds. Allow this author to once again reiterate: fuck Yusuf Mehdi, fuck Xbox One, fuck Xbox, and fuck Microsoft! They all deserve worse than what happened to them.
Mass Effect: Andromeda Posts Poor UK Sales
Lusipurr.com has been following the story of Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s launch ever since it became apparent that the game had more than a few rough edges. Gif images of Andromeda‘s janky animation made the game a laughing stock before launch, and that coupled with the game’s poor writing ensured that Andromeda went on to receive middling critical reviews, with the game earning a metascore of just 73 on Metacritic.
Andromeda‘s critical reception was locked in over a week ago, yet the question was just what kind of effect this would have on a series as popular and widely known as Mass Effect. We have repeatedly seen instances of big games like Final Fantasy XV releasing in a very poor state and selling very well in spite of that due to brand recognition alone. It seems like the same might not be true here if Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s first week of sales in the UK are anything to go by.
Mass Effect: Andromeda has sold and will continue to sell far better than the game deserves, yet EA was expecting to sell six million units in the fiscal year, and it will end up selling about half of that unless the game is subject to drastic cuts in price [at which point the sales accrued become more about saving face].
Mass Effect: Andromeda has had the third best UK opening week of the series, behind Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3. The only reason that it beat out the original Mass Effect game is likely because the original title launched on the Xbox 360 alone relatively early into that console’s existence, whereas Andromeda launched over three years into the current console cycle on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Mass Effect: Andromeda has sold 55% of copies on the PS4 and 41% of copies on Xbox One, which is heavily disproportionate in favour of Xbox One owners. This makes a lot of sense since PS4 gamers are experiencing a first quarter glut of exclusive content which is vastly superior of Mass Effect: Andromeda, with Horizon Zero Dawn and Nier Automata already on the market, and Persona 5 releasing this week. PS4 owners’ appetite for janky bullshit is at an all time low presently. To put things further into perspective: both Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Horizon Zero Dawn have had bigger UK releases this year than Mass Effect Andromeda, that is especially not bad for Horizon Zero Dawn considering that is is a console exclusive [just as the original Mass Effect was].
One is reminded at this point of the excuse that EA gave for making Dead Space 3 a co-op bro shooter: they need their AAA games to sell about four million copies for the series to remain viable. By this metric the Mass Effect series is no longer viable.
Ownership of a new console brings with it such joys, especially if the new console happens to be one of Nintendo’s content starved platforms. Joys such as paying $60 for a four year old game, and then only receiving half of it! When Lego City Undercover released for the Wii U it was 20GB in size. In the lead-up to the game’s Switch release fans noticed something curious, as the game’s physical release involved it coming on an 8GB game card [extrapolated from its eshop filesize of 7.1GB], with packaging alerting buyers that they would need an internet connection and 13GB of available storage. 8GB plus 13GB equals 20GB, right? That part seems pretty obvious. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment are releasing a four year old game for $60 and they are too cheap to even print it on an appropriately sized card.
Warner Bros. was relatively quick to respond to this, but their comment seemed rather disingenuous:
“Players who purchase Lego City Undercover on Nintendo Switch at retail do not need to download the game to play.”
Do readers notice how their response in no way addresses the actual concern that more than half of the game is missing from the physical game card? The physical release could allow owners to play nothing more than the tutorial level and the above statement would remain just as true. Because of the ambiguity here Warner Bros. had to release a second statement:
“The information is listed incorrectly on the packaging of Lego City Undercover for Nintendo Switch. Players who purchase a physical copy of LEGO City Undercover on Nintendo Switch at retail are getting the complete game, and do not need to download additional content to enjoy the full experience.
An internet connection is not required to play the game. The only internet connection suggested is to download the typical content update patch.”
Heh… So a 20GB game has now becomes a 7.1GB game; has compression really come so far since 2013? And yet despite this 7.1GB file size of the main game, a further 13GB are required for ‘typical content update patches’. You know those ‘typical content updates’ received by four year old games that are much larger than the game itself – pretty run-of-the-mill stuff, eh? Things are not adding up here.
One initially half expected that Warner Bros. might have ported the 3DS release of Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins out of cheapness and laziness, but then that would not explain the 13GB storage requirement. Between the game card and Switch storage requirements the game needs 20GB of storage, which is the same amount as the Wii U original – this works out too perfectly to be a coincidence. The only explanation is that Warner Bros. are lying and that the incomplete game was pressed onto the game card, but then their statements really paint them into a corner. Do they really think that gamers are so stupid that they will not expose a very obvious lie? Apparently their corporate image means very little to them, which was pretty much already apparent through the PC release of the latest Mortal Kombat. What does have this author intrigued however, is how fake news sites like CinemaBlend will respond to the revelation of Warner Bros. dishonesty after uncritically reporting on their damage control statements as though they were the word of God imparted to them by an angelic choir. Idiots.
“B-b-but they promised they were telling the truth!”