Microsoft has announced a dramatic U-turn over its decision to impose restrictions on second-hand games on its latest console.
The Washington-based multinational had come under fire after saying those wishing to play pre-owned games would have to pay, and that an internet connection would be required at all times.
A cloud of confusion had hung over Microsoft’s new Xbox One device since the E3 video games conference earlier this month when the firm tried to explain its complex new rules for using the new console.
The new policies would have meant games publishers could charge if customers traded in old titles, and gamers would have had to check-in online at least once every 24 hours to keep their system operating properly.
But, after Sony announced that its new PS4 was built to “appeal to consumers” across the globe, with the ability to sell, share and trade disc-based games playing a big part in that appeal, Microsoft decided to change its position.
Jack Tretton, president and SEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, a division of Sony Computer Entertainment, said: “If people pay a lot of money for that (ownership of the game), they equate the value with the flexibility they have in that. To do with it as they choose, to give it to their friends, sell it to their friends, trade it in to another retailer, that creates value in the initial purchase that they make.”
Clearly fearing that its rival would win any console wars, Microsoft has now completely reversed its position.
Xbox chief Don Mattrick said the turn around was not so much a backing down by Microsoft, but a change in direction after listening to gamers’ concerns.
“Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback,” he said, adding: “You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.”
He announced changes which he said would mean gamers would be able to “share, lend and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360”.
The move means that after gamers set up once online, they can play offline at any point without having to check-in online again, so long as they are playing on a traditional disc. Gamers will also be able to swap, lend and sell games they no longer use.
Microsoft said they believed they were delivering “the best of both worlds to gamers”.
And, while the announcement has been welcomed by many, others say it is too little, too late.
Some tech critics and industry analysts are still deeply unsatisfied. Lutz Muller from Seeking Alpha, said: “The fact that Sony has very definitely ruled out any blockage of used games in comparison to Microsoft’s wavering and eventual U-turn has already damaged the latter’s chances in the eyes of the core gaming consumer group”.
The price point could also prove a major factor, with Sony’s new console costing $399, while the Xbox One will hit the shelves with a price point of $499.