Xbox One reversals sound good, but are they?

Oh Microsoft, what are we to do with you? Since debuting the Xbox One to a collective "meh" at E3, you've reversed yourself on almost every design decision you'd made.

Your draconian-sounding policies regarding used games? Gone.

Your Orwellian submission requirements for indie games? Ditched.

Your requirement that the console be in constant contact with the Internet? Abandoned.

Your always-on, integral-to-the-system, compulsory Kinect peripheral? You declared users would be able to disable it. And now you've declared that the Kinect no longer need be connected at all. Yet you'll still force everyone to buy it packed in with the console. (Though I won't rule out you changing your mind on that point too.)

Now, none of these changes sound bad. All make the console more open, more consumer-friendly.

Yet the net effect is that it makes the Xbox One essentially identical to Sony's PlayStation 4, except $100 more expensive at retail — and with the separate purchase of Xbox Live Gold still required to access most online functionality, such as Netflix, Skype, online gaming, TV viewing, etc.

It begins to make the console's existence feel pointless, at least for those who would choose not to connect the Kinect.

Frankly, while I didn't like the Xbox One when you announced it, at least it sounded like an original vision. I was interested in seeing where that vision would lead, even if I wasn't ready to buy into the concept myself.

But that vision is gone. What's left is ...

Well, essentially it sounds like a cash-cow for Microsoft and a constant, bittersweet expense for gamers.

What it boils down to: If you aren't going to use the Kinect and pay for Xbox Live Gold, you've missed the point to owning the console in the first place. You're not only not getting much bang for your buck, but also you're depriving yourself of some of what you've already paid for, such as voice- or gesture-based controls for your console. You'll also have no online gaming; no online apps; pretty much no online functionality at all.

If you'd purchased a PS4 instead, you'd have gotten more for less. (Yes, you do have to pay for online gaming on PS4 too, but all the other online functionality is still there for free.)

In other words, Microsoft's latest reversal — allowing players to not connect the Kinect — sounds to me more like a chance for Microsoft to let players rip themselves off.

Topics (1):Technology

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