Microsoft reverses its used game policy after gamers revolt

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Microsoft announced an about-face for its used video game policy and online gaming requirements last week in reaction to intense criticism from gaming customers and industry analysts.

At the Xbox One unveiling presentation in May, Microsoft invoked new policies restricting the sale of used games and requiring an internet connection to use the new console. Critics of the decision said the changes were an affront to gamers wishing to play disc-based games or buy used games from sites like Amazon.

“Xbox players will no longer be able to lend disc-based games to a friend; you can give them away, but only once, and only if you’ve been Xbox Live friends for more than 30 days, and you can never get it back,” explained Keza MacDonald in a blog post for IGN entertainment.

But on June 19, Microsoft withdrew the policy changes, saying the company “appreciate(s) (gamers’) passion, support and willingness to challenge the assumptions of digital licensing and connectivity.”

“Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback,” said Don Mattrick, president of Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, in a release.  “You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you.”

The initial announcement prompted many gamers who had been enthused about the new Xbox One to announce they would soon switch to a competitor console, the PlayStation 4.

Michael Laird, a junior studying chemical engineering at BYU, currently owns the Xbox 360 and was planning on eventually buying Microsoft’s newest console.

“I’ve always liked Microsoft. … I’m loyal to them,” Laird said. “(But) when I heard that policy and heard that Sony wasn’t going to do that, I was like, ‘I’m switching (to Playstation 4).”

Microsoft was also criticized for pricing the Xbox One at $499, $100 more than the Playstation 4. Laird said he lost enthusiasm when considering dumping $500 on a video game console while in college.

Robbie Monson, a chemistry major from Vacaville, Calif., said he grew up playing and trading video games with his friends.

“One of us would buy a new game and lend it around, and then if we liked it we’d go out and buy it ourselves,” Monson said. “So in a way that could actually get (the video game companies) more business.”

Microsoft’s launch also focused on presenting additional features to the traditional gaming aspect of its earlier consoles. It is an all-in-one entertainment system, comparable to the Apple TV or Google TV.

Josh Aquino, a freshman studying public health at BYU, is an avid gamer. But his opinion of the Xbox One started out poorly because he was skeptical of the all-in-one approach.

“The console isn’t focused on games,” Aquino said. “There isn’t anything good coming out on it, nothing really exclusive to the Xbox.”

Microsoft also announced that the new console would require users to connect to the internet at least once every 24 hours, a stingy move, according to Laird.

“They were trying to push the industry to digital only so they could fix prices (on their products),” Laird said. “So, honestly, I think they were penny pinching.”

Time will tell whether the change in course will help Xbox One sales; the new console is slated for release in November.

“I’m rethinking my forswearing of the Xbox One,” Laird said. “I’m still not 100 percent won back, but we’re getting there.”

Others have been less forgiving.

“It’s just that even though they changed their policies (again), they have broken my trust as a consumer of their product,” Aquino said.

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