Since the Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show in early June, Microsoft has made a number of changes to the Xbox One and Xbox Live. Where once gamers were criticizing the company for its out-of-touch stances regarding ownership, digital-rights management, and online, now gamers and Sony are calling out Microsoft for “changing its story.”
Microsoft Game Studios head Phil Spencer doesn’t see that as a bad thing.
“The two-way conversation we have with our customers is a strength,” Spencer said in an interview with Eurogamer. “Certain people have tried to turn that into something that’s a bad thing about what we’re trying to do, and I just disagree.”
Those certain people include Sony Computer Entertainment boss Andrew House, who oversees the PlayStation. Yesterday. During Sony’s press event at the Gamescom industry event in Cologne, Germany, House took a pointed dig at Microsoft regarding the Xbox One.
“While others have shifted their message and changed their story, we were consistent in maintaining a message that is fair and in tune with consumer desires,” said House.
The truth is that Microsoft appears defensive.
After E3, the Xbox One was going to restrict used games, completely prohibit rented games, and require an online connection. Microsoft reversed all of those policies and more in a series of announcements that gamers refer to as “Microsoft 180s.”
But again, Spencer thinks that Microsoft’s capability to quickly react to market pressure is a positive.
“The thing I love about the space we’re in is you’re always going to get feedback, whether it’s on your Twitter feed [or gaming forum NeoGAF],” said Spencer. “People are going to tell you in comment threads how they feel about your decisions.
“We built a platform for gamers. Gamers invest their time and their money in the things they want to play, and they’re going to invest their time in telling us what they love about the platform, and they’re giving us feedback on areas where they have more critical feedback.”
Microsoft has quickly turned around the perception of the Xbox One based on that customer feedback. That may make them look uncertain, but the alternative is a situation where the company arrogantly ignores the desires of its fans.
Spencer would probably rather have people accuse MIcrosoft of changing its mind rather than accuse of it of hubris and anti-consumerism.
“That two-way conversation with gamers has to be core to who we are as a platform,” said Spencer. “And if we don’t have the capability of listening and reacting to what people are saying about our platform, then we’re being too disconnected from customers who make investments in our platform and the games we build.”