Open letter to Microsoft: How to save your consumers

This editorial is my opinion and impressions on what Microsoft have been announced about their upcoming console, Xbox One. To add juice to the whole thing, I am adding in to the equation what other gamers have said on the forums I visit the most. Do remember when you reach the achievements part, one of these forums is heavily focused on achievements, so people have very strong opinions. Be aware that I am not of any sort an expert, I just have opinions like the rest of the gamers in this world.

If you agree with me, even just at one of these points I am making, share this article where ever you think other gamers would find this interesting – and the more we share, the more focus this will get, and maybe even get Microsofts attention.

Here’s a short bullet list of what gamers around the world is complaining about, rumors and official announced parts.

  • TV! TV! TV! TV!
  • Used games fee
  • Always on – possible 24 hour window to connect.
  • Registration of games
  • Kinect
  • Where did Illumiroom go?
  • Gamers like your points
  • Backwards compatibility
  • Support indie devs more, make your platform open
  • Dynamic achievements
  • And stop being so damn vague!

And here’s what Microsoft has to do to save their customers. I’ll go through every point i mentioned above.

TV
Fine. Give the gamers a point when arguing with parents to persuade them to buy the new console, and save some shelf space at the bachalors home. I’m all for it, I love it actually. But you made it as this is the primary thing this console does. You knew it was gamers that were watching your reveal, so why not targeting the people who were watching instead of every one else? You could have invited the mainstream press to an enclosed press meeting and showing the TV capabilities. These functions would reach the gamers sooner or later, if not before, so when they made the research before purchase.
Advice: You did wrong in focusing on this at the consoles reveal. Should have been at a gadget expo instead as an example.

Used games and fees
I get it. Developers don’t like it when they feel they are losing money. You are a business and you are here to earn money. But acting like a moneygrabbing shark is not going to attract consumers. I am one of the few people here who supported the online passes and i even support this. But for the love of God, you will make a real consolekiller if you want full game price for an activation fee. Even more so if households with more than one console has to pay for two copies.
Advice: Cut the new game price with 20%, ie. the PC game price, and make that fee 10% of that games full launch price. You will sell so many more games if you do this.

Also, if you could get to some agreements with rentals like Gamefly and Lovefilm, even Blockbuster and resellers like Game and Gamestop, for example with cheaper reactivation codes you’d still make a decent amount of money while keeping a lot of working places running.

Registration of games
Not sure I like the idea that the game will be deactivated on the previous console. As long as the game is on the hard drive, it should be playable for the player, no matter if someone else has activated that disc on another console. Not being allowed to re-download the game on the other hand could be acceptable. People are gonna run out of harddisk space anyway. To prevent people from moving games on different hard drives, there could be an online check and not allow the gamer to move the game if it’s been activated on another console.
Advice: Don’t deactivate the game, lock it and deactivate the download instead.

The Always-on issue
My 360 is always connected, so this won’t really affect me much, but I am sure there’s heaps of gamers, even in countries not supported by Live that owns a 360 and wants the Xbox One, but doesn’t have internet, or only a bad line is provided. I do get there has to be a check if gamers can install disc games on the console and not have to put the disc in to play. But gamers around the world does have a point when they express their worries about this. There is so many deployed who have taken their console with them to play games in that little freetime they get. And how about when people move from one place to another? A few weeks can easily go by before a new internet connection is in place. How about this: as per standard the console check the licenses once a day, if it’s turned on. No checking when off. If the user has to move or are deployed, they can register this on the console, with one month as max setting, sms or email reminder, and one extension of the period available that you can register via the website.
Worst case scenario: Console is dead without a connection, but Microsoft have dismissed this.
Best case scenario: The above. I don’t have to get up from the couch to change games.

Kinect
I was astounded by the Kinect when they told about it, so I followed it closely since the announcemet – I even got into the beta program. I love what it can do, but since I don”t have space to use it at home, and I feel like I’m being watched when it’s hooked up, I simply hate that I have to have it plugged in with the next console. Shouldn’t it be op to me what and how I am using my equipment? You’re not entitled to play big brother. Skip this requirement, and I am sure a good chunk of gamers go back to your side in this console war. I do get the idea of including it with the console, even that some gamers don’t want to pay for the Kinect, and I understand those as well, but by doing this you’ll get more developers to make content for the Kinect 2.0, and if it works as detailed as advertised, more people might start using it.
Advice: Dump the requirement, include it with the console.

Illumiroom
This is all on me, haven’t seen other people complain this lack of acknowledge of this unique product. You guys need to be unique, and with Illumiroom you are! Why didn’t you mention this with one word at the reveal? Sure, the opinions about this gadget is blend, but those who like it, including me, simply love it and would have loved to know more, even a price and if it is going to be included with the console.
Advice: Either have it as a cheap peripheral or include it with the console.

Microsoft Points
Surprise! Gamers do actually like your points as a seperate currency. It makes it possible for us to get games a little cheaper by buying the codes cheap. For example a retailer in my country had to get rid of the Fifa themed points, so they set them on sale and sold a whole lot of them. Maybe you didn’t got as much money for those games, but these gamers friends has seen the title via the friends list or the buyer recommended that game, ultimately making more sales.

Backwards compatability
While I’ve seen so many gamers out there complain that the Xbox One won’t be playing 360 games, I do accept your decision. I’ve even tried to defend your company in a couple forum threads. Making it backwards compatibilty will raise the costs on the development, and in the end making it more expensive when hitting the shelves and worst case, sell less consoles when it’s supposed to sell the most.
Advice: None, you did the right thing.

Support the indie developers
Oh god, get with the current trend already. You know for a fact that indiegames are a popular thing at the moment. It’s gotten easier to publish an indiegame, everywhere but at your console. Sure, make the publisher pay for the man hours in testing the game and achievements etc, but the fee we’ve heard is just ridiculous. Make two different packs for indiedevs.
1: Cheap pack. Minimum testing, lets say five hours. A fee for enabling achievements. Can be published at will by the developer, in the indiegames section (which should be accessed worldwide and not just US). Achievements enbled games are marked somehow. Users can make feedback and report problems. Game can be upgraded to full launch by the dev paying the difference from cheap to full pack. Games in this section are cheaper and section are clearly marked as the games can have problems.
2: Full pack. Still not as expensive as the current price, but will include achievements, full testing and a set launch date that Microsoft decides.

Dynamic Achievements
What the hell was that? You mention these words and then HURRY to the next thing on the agenda, like you wanted to avoid this topic at all costs. You know the most avid Xbox 360 gamers find achievements very very important. You can not do a hit’n’run and expect to not get any questions. Rumors suggests that there will be achievements for watching TV or cross games. The achievements works as they are know, why break something that works fine?
I’d love to see statistics (I alredy do this on trueachievements.com) and I love the idea to see how I got that particular achievement, but making it so that even an older game could add achievements or a weekly achievement, say “watch Netflix for 10 hours” or “shoot 300 players in a shooting game” (the last one with a list of supported games) is a simple, but powerful NO-GO. Dont you know that some of your most avid gamers are completionists?
Advice: Keep it as it is. Don’t break it. Statistics will be interesting.

And last, but not least
Stop being so damn vague about things. You knew most of the questions the community had, yet you did not answer half of them. Not to mention the confusion when Xbox Support on Twitter said one thing and Phil Harrison was quoted saying another. Not to mention that the media attending the reveal did some serious fuckup in taking possible scenarios and taking the as facts. But then again, all this could have been avoided if you guys actually had answered the pre-reveal questions up front onstage.

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Getting sucked into games by Super Mario as a kid, gaming got on hold during her teens. Lured into gaming with the 7th generation by GTA IV, and a few years later intrigued by reviewing games, and now she's running gamingirl since 2009.
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