So, What Will The Next Xbox One Reversal Be?


Which next-gen console will be better? Game Front gives the definitive opinion with our massive Xbox One vs. Playstation 4 Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.


Where earlier this summer it would have felt seismic, Microsoft’s confirmation recently that Kinect will no longer be required for Xbox One to function seems almost perfunctory. It is, after all, the fourth time in less than two months that the company has decided to change its position on a given Xbox One feature after weeks spent denying it could even be done.

Microsoft started this process back in June, with the removal of two odious forms of DRM that received near-universal criticism. This was followed less than a month later with the July 24 decision to go ahead and allow indie developers to self-publish. And now this.

We can’t deny that seeing the company making a real effort to give its customers what they clearly want is a nice change. I for one prefer not being condescended to when accurately pointing out how terrible something looks. But it’s also fair to note that the company had to be dragged, somewhat, into doing it. Microsoft’s decisions have been largely reactive up to this point – each one intended to resolve a specific complaint – giving the impression that it is more hoping that with each reversal it will have stemmed the tide of complaints.

That isn’t a bad thing. The company’s vision didn’t line up with what consumers wanted, so they’ve changed it, and Microsoft now gets to openly declare that “the two way conversation we have with customers is a strength.” Yes, you have to wonder what data it was analyzing to provoke that conversation in the first place, but the Xbox One as it appears to exist today is a vastly improved console over the restrictive, intrusive mess Microsoft unveiled to the world back in May.

At the same time, it is highly likely that complaints are going to continue. Not only because the system retains a few features that aren’t well-liked, but because the consumers have learned Microsoft is (grudgingly) listening, and will continue to take advantage of that. And that means, if the past is any indication, that Microsoft has at least one more big reversal in its future.

Right now, there are three major areas still at the receiving end of fierce complaints:

Backwards Compatibility

For Xbox 360 owners, backwards compatibility is a big deal. Xbox 360 was ultimately backwards compatible with about 120 original Xbox titles. That’s down from an initial list of 279 games, but still a robust number of playable previous-gen titles. Even if it took a while to shore up backwards compatibility, its existence made transitioning to the new console much less painful for many Xbox users. It may even account somewhat for Xbox 360 outperforming Playstation 3 for several years. Sony revoked backwards-compatibility early on, a move for which it was roundly criticized – especially since it was only removed for Playstation 2 games.

But Microsoft was apparently never that enthused about it. Former Xbox chief Don Mattrick was quoted earlier this year saying “If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards,” and later claimed that only 5% of Xbox 360 users ever took advantage of the feature. That may indeed be true, but used to the perk, it came as a surprise to Xbox owners when Microsoft announced earlier this year that it would not provide backwards compatibility for Xbox One. Fans have not been quiet about how much they kind of hate this.

Xbox Live Gold Membership Issues

Let’s be honest: there is a strong likelihood that everyone one of us who ends up eventually getting an Xbox One will also keep our Xbox Live Gold memberships. Microsoft’s servers host the service, so it’s hard to complain about paying to play multiplayer, or to use movie and TV apps developed by other companies. And it isn’t like it’s expensive. But even acknowledging this, one can’t help but think the service as it will exist on Xbox One feels like less of a good deal than in its current form.

First, in order to use the cross-functionality between your cable television service and Kinect, as well as the built-in gaming DVR – you know, the centerpieces of the Xbox One reveal event last May? – you need Xbox Live Gold. Second, Xbox 360 owners won’t be able to carry over their Xbox Live-only titles to Xbox One. Which means if you want to play all the games you downloaded, you’ll have to keep your 360 plugged in or buy them again.

Kinect

Like I discussed above, Microsoft has already pulled a huge reversal on Kinect. For months now, the company has insisted that the always-on Kinect was irrevocable. In fact, though company spokespersons never quite said so, it was always strongly implied that the system wouldn’t even work without it. We now know that claim was not an entirely accurate representation of the situation, and so it’s no shock that calls for a version of Xbox One that doesn’t include Kinect have continued without interruption, though Microsoft continues to say there won’t be one.

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8 Comments on So, What Will The Next Xbox One Reversal Be?

Aedelric

On August 26, 2013 at 10:34 am

Bit late for Microsoft, everyone has already preordered Playstations.

Hag

On August 26, 2013 at 10:43 am

You’d think Microsoft would want to bring in backwards compatibility and have something over PS4, since a lot of people (including massive Playstation/Sony fans) are annoyed that it’s yet another console they’ll have to buy and keep in front of the TV at all times depending on what system they want to use, when it would be very easy to just allow the PS4 to play PS3. But for some reason Microsoft just wants to fail on this.

John

On August 26, 2013 at 11:30 am

This is a well-written article and you bring up some good points. I hope that you’re correct because the thing that would compel me to keep my Xbox 360 and purchase a PS4 rather than an Xbox One (Eighty) is the higher price for an accessory I have zero desire to use.

Given the corporation’s reversals to date, I predict that Microsoft will release a “Kinect-less” bundle for a lower price by the end of calendar year 2013.

Roman

On August 26, 2013 at 12:06 pm

@ Hag – ps3 had (when it launched) backwards compatibility. I had one, I use like one or 2 games for a short about of time, before I was all about the new games coming out. I only have playstation, so I don’t know what M$ can do. Gamers are going to get their systems. Some have both, or all of them. If both new systems just had games that you could get both versions (ps3/ps4 or 360 / one) games in them for maybe a little bit more, I think you may be able to get some of the heat off of needed it to be backwards. Plus with todays “need” to be connected to play, and them not having cross platform/cross system workablity, they don’t see the need.

M.A.

On August 26, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I really hope they keep the Kinect in every purchase of the ONE. I’ve heard nothing but praise for the new tech, and would like to actually see it used. But if it’s dropped from “packed in” to peripheral, no developer will waste their time with it (See the PS4 Eye).

Say what you want about the original plans for the ONE, but at least it really sounded “next gen.” Now, both consoles sound like the mediocre upgrade the WiiU was, and IMO, that’s really backwards and disappointing. As it stands, I’m seeing the consoles to be more like PS3.5 and Xbox 720. Get rid of the kinect, and it becomes nothing more than an Xbox 540.

Yusuf

On August 26, 2013 at 5:56 pm

@Aedeiric +1 Playsation rise up

Stephen Heller

On August 26, 2013 at 8:37 pm

I’d like to confirm that Australia has already sold out of day one allocation for the PS4. I travelled to three EB Games stores (owned by GameStop but operating under a different name here), along with seven other retailers who stock video game consoles. The main EB Games store has a waiting list of 450 strong as of two days ago, with second round stock not available until January 2014.

I did the same check for the Xbox 360. Each and every store still has day one allocation stock, and all but the Melbourne Central EB Games store has the limited edition launch console still available.

Microsoft has to be hurting for sure.

Huntsman06

On August 27, 2013 at 2:15 pm

I think Microsoft will will include backwards compatibility for Xbox One. Sony clearly made a statement with PS3 that backwards compatibility was not at all one of their concerns, and I think that Microsoft has an opportunity to capitalize on that and “1-up” Sony in that matter.

Now many of the truly amazing games will receive updated versions for new consoles. The PlayStation 3″Collections” of Jak and Daxter, Sly Cooper, Ratchet and Clank, etc are proof of that. Although, only the popular games will receive such and if you’re #1 favorite game was a bit more of a obscure title, there is little chance you’ll be playing it on a new console.

Next, why does nobody criticize Nintendo for having backwards compatibility? There are no “You’re living in the past” comments surrounding it or really any negative reaction. And if something isn’t negative that would….make it positive? The first time I ever played a video game was in fact a ps1 title on a ps2 we received for Christmas.

Lastly, about backwards compatibility, I don’t’ want to pay for them again! The day I bought an xbox 360, I owned exactly two xbox 360 games (lego Indiana Jones and kung fu pand), not exactly and all-star selection of games. No problem I can just crack out my old Halo and play that instead. This is a good example, could I buy Halo 1 specifically for the 360 so it will be HD? Yea that would be cool. But I’m not going to drop the $40 or $60. In my opinion, it’s never worth re-buying a game UNLESS it’s for PC. (I do in fact own Halo for PC as well).