Posted: June 21, 2013 in Video Games

Xbox Flip Flop

So as i’m sure many of you have heard the new internet sensation Xbox 180! as Microsoft has announced that they are reversing many of their unpopular features on the new console such as 24 hour online authentication, used game restrictions, and region locks.

In the 24 hours I’ve notice the response has fallen into two camps, the “We Won!” crowd, who believe that this is a perfect example of consumer power at work. That the internet, social media, and lets be honest, the most important thing, pre-order sales have convinced a giant multi-billion coorporation to change its theoretically well thought out, well planned policies.

The other side of the coin is that the “vocal minority” has poisened the general public into believing that Microsoft was basically taking away all of your rights as a gamer. That Microsoft was actually pushing the video game industry forward into a primary digital workspace which would lower costs, and allow a control on used games to put money in the developers pockets instead of Gamestop. Others lamented the loss of some of the more innovative features such as the family sharing plan, and being able to play any of your games from any Xbox.

Message not recieved

As with any argument, the answer is usually somewhere in the middle. What is really indisputable is Microsoft vastly under-estimated the backlash, and more importantly Microsoft did a horrible job explaining the benifitis of their proposed changes. Microsoft never made a convincing argument to the public that these features were a positive or upgrade to the way things have been.

Microsoft failed public relations 101. It failed to own its message. After the beginning announcement the media would ask for clarification on certain issues, one Microsoft execuitive would say one thing, and another would say something different. It honestly seemed like MS wasn’t excatly sure what was going on, so the media ran with it in a negative light.

It really all came to a head when Microsoft began discussing used games on the Xbox One. Microsoft aknowledge that you could play used games, but said they would reveal the details at a later date. The internet, which is already insecure and leery of giant coorportations viewed this as the equivalant of your girlfriend telling you we need to talk later. People immediatly jumped to the worst possible conclusion and really never let it go. Microsoft never got control of the narrative again.

There is a lesson in all of this. If you plan on changing the world, you better win the PR battle, own your message, and get in front of the negativity that comes with it. The video game community is one of the more tech savy communites around, but its also incredibility sensitive to change. Espically those having to do with consumer rights. Microsoft failed to own the narrative and produce its own message to the consumer. Through indecision, confusion, and a divided front Microsoft allowed the internet to inform consumers. Forcing Microsoft to revert to the status quo without the oppurtunity to truely sell its ideas. For better or Worse.

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