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Xbox One policy reversal "impressive" says Will Wright

Xbox One policy reversal "impressive" says Will Wright

Wed 26 Jun 2013 2:52pm GMT / 10:52am EDT / 7:52am PDT
PeopleHardware

Wright applauds the power of players to make change

At E3, Microsoft attempted to drag console gamers towards a digital distribution model resembling Valve's Steam service, but players didn't take the bait. A number of PlayStation 4 pre-orders and a substantial #NoDRM campaign later, Microsoft relented on those policies and rolled the Xbox One back to the physical disc model that's the current standard for home consoles. In an interview with CNNMoney, SimCity creator and Syntertainment founder Will Wright applauded the power of the gaming community to institute change in companies as large as Microsoft.

"That's something that I've always believed in -- getting the players very involved not just after the game ships, but even before and try to listen to them," said Wright. "The kind of games I'm interested in, and actually the way games are going, is they're becoming far more baseline communities of people playing the game and doing a lot of cool stuff peer-to-peer, whether it's content sharing or competition or forming social connections. I tend to think of the fan base, especially the hardcore fan base, as co-developers. These people with a passion for your project are going to go out and sell your game to other people and pull other people in. The more they feel like they have some ownership over the process and they're not just kind of customers, the better."

"To see a company like Microsoft actually sit back, listen, and understand the fans and respond to them is impressive. For a company that size to be that responsive is great. These companies are the ones that obviously keep us in business and allow us to make games."

Wright did mention the flip side to that coin: times when the internet outcry may not sync up with the gaming community at large.

"On the other side there's the Internet thing where 5 percent of the people are making all the noise," he explained. "Sometimes they represent the other 95 percent, sometimes they don't. A lot of times the 5 percent are asking for ridiculously elaborate features, and as a game designer you know that's going to make the game inaccessible to everybody else. There are these people that want you to push a franchise in a super hardcore direction, and therefore we're going to close it off to 95 percent of the players, so you have to understand what kind of feedback that they're giving you. But when it's something that's 5 percent representing the other 95 percent that will probably feel the same way, then I think it's really valuable."

Wright also said that DRM is an ongoing discussion for the industry, despite the backlash to Microsoft's policies. He believes that publishers, developers, and platform holders will have to find ways to make the DRM benefit consumers as well.

"From the consumers' point of view, I can really understand a lot of the backlash to DRM. DRM is going to be an ongoing negotiation because there are features to the DRM, or at least Internet connectivity, that is a very attractive solution to the piracy issue. Gaming has had a long history of piracy, but you can't use DRM at the expense of the customers," he said. "

"I'm not really sure I have a clear answer to this except that it's going to be something that we slowly acclimate the player base towards. It's really not a lot different from if you have an MMO or peer-to-peer game that requires connectivity with other players, but a lot of games don't necessarily require that. If you're just going to require it for DRM purposes only that's obviously where it upset the consumers."

10 Comments

Tom DuBois Digital, GameFly

4 6 1.5
One way to make DRM relevant to consumers is to enable the resell of digital copies. This is a looming issues as gamers build up huge accounts on Steam and elsewhere, but don't actually own their own games, at least under US law. While I think this is a pending legal issue, and I'd never expect to see the industry embrace it, imagine if publishers enabled consumers to own their digital items? All of sudden everyone would care about DRM and want to protect their assets.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Lee Hewes

11 10 0.9
Can't help but feel that the u-turn from microsoft was more due to projected profit changing with all the backlash rather then the gaming community winning.

Digital purchases need more incentives to buy them, if they are the same price as a boxed copy and offer no other benefits then i'd rather buy a hard copy then download the whole thing! DRM has to be seen as having more value for the consumer otherwise they will never take it on board.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Paul Shirley Programmers

178 150 0.8
I don't believe for a second Microsoft listened to customers, the press or the trade. They listened to Sony opportunistically stealing the market and had no choice but to react.

Without a competitor threatening their bottom line Microsoft rarely listen to customers, they've spent far too long controlling markets to worry about that. The ongoing Win8 fiasco is a perfect example, one where they have no competition and hence no need to do anything but plough on, impervious to complaints.

But threaten to take away a market they think they own and anything becomes possible... until they're back in control and confident enough of it to shaft the users retrospectively.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Kevin Hillary writer/videographer

8 7 0.9
I really don't think they listened to the gamers, they more so listened the wind blowing in their pre-order wallets. Although i would've liked to see what strategies Microsoft would've used if they stuck to their guns.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator

954 182 0.2
I agree with pretty much most of the comments so far. If Microsoft were keen on listening to fans these changes would have been made long ago. :P

More like they hit a reality wall but they're trying to skirt around it.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Paul Jace Merchandiser

939 1,418 1.5
"To see a company like Microsoft actually sit back, listen, and understand the fans and respond to them is impressive. For a company that size to be that responsive is great
Pretty much. Even better is the fact that they introduced these changes BEFORE they launched their system. But this isn't the first time gamers have voiced their opinion loud enough for it to matter to a large company. Remember all the backlash over the Mass Effect 3 ending? That earned gamers an additional free ending.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Feri Zsolnai 3D All-rounder and Designer

8 0 0.0
Microsoft, or any other company of that size will never listen to fans. The shareholders saw that Sony was stealing the market and decided to change strategies. We can all thank Sony that it happened, remembering that Sony most probably made its decision in order to steal the market from Microsoft, not because they listened to the fans in the first place.
Now please someone threaten EA the same way.

Posted:A year ago

#7

David Serrano Freelancer

300 272 0.9
"On the other side there's the Internet thing where 5 percent of the people are making all the noise," he explained. "Sometimes they represent the other 95 percent, sometimes they don't. A lot of times the 5 percent are asking for ridiculously elaborate features, and as a game designer you know that's going to make the game inaccessible to everybody else. There are these people that want you to push a franchise in a super hardcore direction, and therefore we're going to close it off to 95 percent of the players, so you have to understand what kind of feedback that they're giving you. But when it's something that's 5 percent representing the other 95 percent that will probably feel the same way, then I think it's really valuable."

This is exactly why core game sales continue to nose dive. Over the past six to seven years, a tiny hardcore subsegment of the core audience has gained a massively disproportional level of influence over the nature and tone of AAA game development. And as a directly result, most core games are now inaccessible or unappealing (or both) to more people than ever before.

As JJ Abrams warned his audience at TED: "No community is best served when only the elite have control."

Edited 1 times. Last edit by David Serrano on 27th June 2013 7:05am

Posted:A year ago

#8

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,182 972 0.8
I would say it is impressive. They didn't need to u-turn and I know a lot of people were still willing to buy the Xbox in the face of the criticisms, particularly those who are already sold by the Xbox exclusives, Xbox Live features and general ecosystem they're used to.

I think we underestimate the importance and strength of the brand, where even in the face of these policies, it would still have been successful and forced people to live with them.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 27th June 2013 11:05am

Posted:A year ago

#9

Jef Stuyck Game Programmer, Fishing Cactus

2 1 0.5
I doubt they actually listened to the players. The only reason they did a uturn is because sony didn't do any drm.

Posted:A year ago

#10

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