Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Holy Cow

From Don Mattrick (President of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business): I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. Here is what that means:

An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.

Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today -- There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.

I'm speechless.

After two weeks of the worst PR I've ever seen (certainly as bad as Sony after they announced the PS3, which set the standard for stupid until now), and after two weeks of having to speak in doubleplusgood dialect, Microsoft decided to decouple their anti-consumer DRM from the cool features of the Xbox One.

Even with this very impressive move, the One isn't sure to succeed. At least now, though, it isn't sure to fail.

So what do they do now? Above all, they need to do this: stop defending on price. Never, EVER defend on price. In the midst of their cow manure period, Mattrick gave an interview last week and said this:
We’re over-delivering value against other choices I think consumers can get. Any modern product you look at these days and $499 isn’t a ridiculous price point. We’re delivering thousands of dollars of value to people so I think they’re going to love it when they use it.”

No no no no NO. Don't go into these imaginary, inflated value calculations. Don't tell people how much value you're delivering--that's what lecturing snobs do.

I'll say it again: never, EVER defend on price.

Talk instead about how many cools things the console can do. Don't assign a dollar value to each one. Talk about how this new console is really going to excite consumers. Talk about anything except the price, and if people try to pin you down in interviews, just focus on the feature set.

This was a huge move on Microsoft's part. Like I said last week, they were getting mocked. I'm also guessing that Sony's pre-orders exploded after their E3 presentation, while Microsoft's flatlined.

I'll give them credit. Instead of denying reality until two weeks after launch, when the numbers would give them no choice, they slapped themselves and rejoined the world where 2+2=4.

Interestingly, they've also boxed in Sony. Sony had room between themselves and Microsoft to put in more restrictive policies before launch, because even if they did,  they'd "still be better than Microsoft." Now, though, Microsoft has basically moved over to Sony's position. Now, Sony can't tack towards Microsoft, because they're flush against each other.

In a corporate sense, that is a very, very smart move.

This is much more interesting now. Instead of an entirely predictable train wreck, drama has been restored. Popcorn for everyone.

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