News Article

Reaction: Microsoft's Stopped the Xbox One Rot, But PS4 Is a Step Ahead

Posted by Sammy Barker

Manufacturer is still clutching at straws

Vision is a word that Microsoft likes to use a lot. "Our vision is that every person can be a creator," said corporate vice president Marc Whitten earlier today, following the platform holder’s second massive Xbox One-Eighty in as many months. After a unanimous panning from pretty much the entirety of the development community, the Redmond-based manufacturer has now confirmed that it will allow self-publishing on the Xbox One. Well, at some point within the system’s first year on the market – it’s a vision, remember.

Today's news is potentially huge for indie developers, but it once again evidences just how far behind Microsoft actually is

The problem is that contrary to comments from the firm’s top executives, the company clearly doesn’t have a vision. Today’s announcement is potentially huge for the indie development scene – and ultimately positive news – but it once again evidences just how far behind the manufacturer is. “We'll have more details on the program and the timeline at GamesCom in August,” added Whitten. Why not now? We understand that the organisation may be looking for an impact, but shouldn’t it have scrapped plans to make a splash when it was getting verbally battered by development legend Lorne Lanning last week?

The self-publishing policies finally put the Xbox One in line with the PlayStation 4, but Microsoft’s trump card is that it will allow retail systems to be converted into development kits. The dream is that if you own the machine, you’ll be able to write code on your computer and test it in real-time. The elimination of development kits means that anyone could potentially make the next Minecraft, and that’s pretty huge news. Of course, despite being part of the vision, the functionality will not be available at launch.

And the hazy commitments echo Microsoft’s reversal on DRM: it’s panicking and playing a game of follow-the-leader. There may be positive implications for developers and the consumer in the long-run, and that’s great – Sony’s refreshed attitude can be attributed to the spanking that it received in the early days of the current generation, after all – but the policies seem ill-defined and hastily tossed together. It’s almost as if a flustered gaggle of suits sat around a boardroom desk and said, “Forget everything – let’s do what the other guys are doing.” And everyone in attendance scrunched up years of plans and eagerly nodded their heads.

But if the Redmond-based firm thinks that it can simply mimic Sony’s policies and everything will be hunky-dory, then it’s gravely mistaken. There’s a loathing among indie developers for Microsoft’s corporate persona, and that’s going to prove more challenging to turnaround. “The policy changes are great, but they don't undo the experience that I had [with the Redmond firm],” said Retro City Rampage developer Brian Provinciano. “I'm not ready to forget what I went through. Working with Microsoft was the unhappiest point of my career. Policies are one thing, but developer relations are another.”

Sony shouldn't be too worried – today’s news has proved once again that the Japanese giant is one step ahead

And that is the area where the PlayStation maker has excelled. Sony has assembled a likeable team – spanning media ex-pats such as Nick Suttner and Shane Bettenhausen, as well as development legends like Shahid Ahmad – to put a face to its relations. It’s not just about positive polices – which will be practiced on the PS4 from launch, we hasten to add – but it’s about people, too. And that’s been part of the company’s philosophy since it first revealed the next generation system. On the flipside, we can't help but wonder whether we’d be even writing this article if, much like with the DRM, the backlash to the Xbox One hadn’t been so bad.

But credit where credit is due, if this is an honest reaction to feedback, then Microsoft deserves a pat on the back. It will still need to disclose all of the details before we can accurately compare the scenario to the PS4, but the development kit situation could potentially be huge. Sony shouldn’t be too worried, though – today’s news has proved once again that the Japanese giant is one step ahead. As long as it keeps plotting its own path, then it’s largely irrelevant what the Xbox maker does to catch up. Speaking of which, we suppose that the Kinect is next...


What do you make of Microsoft’s sudden policy changes? How do you think that this second u-turn will affect the PS4? Let us know in the comments section below.

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User Comments (35)

MrHilster

#1

MrHilster said:

The funniest thing I heard about the Xbone was that to not have to constantly connect to the internet you have to connect the first time you get it, the people that can connect the first time are the people that can connect every 24 hours!

jgrangervikings

#2

jgrangervikings said:

So, for a company (Microsoft) that was SOOOO concerned with hacking that they announced all of those crazy DRM policies at E3, they really have done a complete turnaround by now encouraging programmers to access the inner-workings of our machines, create our own code, and manipulate the system to do what we want it to do. Oh, boy. How long will it be before programmers are tapping into other XBone-users' Kinect cameras and posting footage on the internet?

MadchesterManc

#4

MadchesterManc said:

Why do people keep saying Microsoft deserve a pat on the back every time they decide to do yet another 180 with something to fall in line with what Sony has been doing the whole time with regards to the Ps4. Seriously. Stop it. Microsoft deserve absaloutly nothing from any of us.

ObviouslySheik

#5

ObviouslySheik said:

I think the PS4 will still triumph. I'm just waiting to hear that Microsoft will charge you for a developer's account or that they'll take a huge cut of your profit or something along those lines. I'm sure this is way too good to be true.

ShogunRokAdmin

#6

ShogunRok said:

It honestly feels like they don't have a clue when it comes to the Xbox One, which is worrying. The fact that Microsoft has changed so many policies recently nails home the theory that the company had next to nothing finalised, and it's playing catch up because of it.

get2sammybAdmin

#7

get2sammyb said:

@MadchesterManc I think they deserve credit if they are responding to feedback, much like how Sony has earned lots of goodwill for reversing its stance from the PS3 days. It does make you wonder whether they'd be doing any of this if the Xbox One was topping the pre-order charts, though. Then again, I suppose you could say the same about the PS3 if it had been a runaway success.

@ShogunRok I absolutely would not be surprised if the Xbox One launched at $399 without a Kinect at this point. It's fascinating really — they must be scrambling to get all of these changes implemented in time. I'm really curious what state the console is in when it launches. Getting these consoles out is always a rush as it is...

8vpiper

#8

8vpiper said:

@get2sammyb But why is it a rush they have had years to prepare? We will reveal the details soon sounds to me like "We don't have a cooking clue how we going to do this" Am I wrong in assuming this?

ShogunRokAdmin

#9

ShogunRok said:

@get2sammyb So would it be reasonable to think Sony's surprising and focused PS4 reveal caught Microsoft completely off guard? Is that the main reason they're so panicky - because they were forced into making a move?

get2sammybAdmin

#10

get2sammyb said:

@8vpiper No, you're absolutely right - we're on the same wavelength. We know that Sony's been designing the PS4 since around 2008, so five years. If we assume that Microsoft's been doing the same, we can pretty much assume that it's thrown out a chunk of five years planning approximately four months before the console is set to hit store shelves. That's absolutely insane.

But the bigger thing is that it shows they had zero belief in their product. If they really believed in the things they were doing, they would have stuck to their guns and tried to prove to people why they believed in them so strongly. But instead they've just scribbled them out with a coloured marker. Rightly or wrongly, that shows a company that's completely lost.

@ShogunRok I genuinely believe that everything Sony's done has caught Microsoft off guard. The only real downside from PS4's perspective is that they've given Microsoft some time to respond. I still wonder whether all of these last minute changes will have an impact on the final product, though. You have to imagine that the PS4 - which has been pretty much smooth sailing as far as we know - will be a more polished product when it deploys.

I mean, Microsoft must have been almost finished building the infrastructure for that DRM stuff, right? And then they changed it all... That must be a headache.

8vpiper

#11

8vpiper said:

@get2sammyb With all the 180 in policies they have done, its great for the consumer part but now I don't trust they will stick to it after they have my money. Was there any other news about them having yield issues? (saw it on gaf)

Subie98

#12

Subie98 said:

Ive never really seen an electronic company flip flop so much. I find it humorous, personally.

3Above

#13

3Above said:

The thing is we being the informed consumer know about these 180s. But the average joe COD player who doesnt keep up with gaming news might not even know about the drm reversal yet. So their initial opinion of the system still stands and that will affect launch sales.

Gamer83

#14

Gamer83 said:

Those early post-E3 pre-order numbers must've really done a number on the thinking of the people over at MS and I'm loving every second of this. Each new announcement is something good for consumers and eventhough I don't care for MS much it shows that it at least has some people there in the Xbox division who are listening and trying to make changes. This is a good thing and those people do deserve a lot of credit for it. At this rate, I see a $400, Kinect-free Xbox One by no later than June of next year, which means I'll be able to purchase the Xbox One by the time the next Halo comes out. That's my favorite franchise and I didn't want to have to make due without those games. Fortunately it seems like that won't be an issue now.

Ginkgo

#15

Ginkgo said:

I agree that the Xbox One80 is re-gaining ground which was inevitable, after their terrible start. It is a long battle ahead that will keep both parties on their toes, and we the gamers are winning.

get2sammybAdmin

#16

get2sammyb said:

@ajaychitown I'm going to write something about this later today, because I do sort of agree. There's no real cause for panic, though — aside from the devkit thing, all Microsoft's essentially been doing is putting the Xbox One on the same level as the PS4. And it still has the price/power disadvantage against it for the moment.

Furthermore, if this was Microsoft's big announcement for GamesCom, well there's plenty of opportunity for Sony to roll out Santa Monica/Naughty Dog's next game, isn't there? Let's not forget - Microsoft pretty much played its entire software hand at E3 to make up for the system's shoddy unveiling. Sony, on the other hand, has actually been very quiet about first-party games.

Itachi

#17

Itachi said:

@get2sammy I accidentally deleted my post trying to edit something, but I see what your saying and I agree. All I'm saying Sony should give their fans a little something to help build anticipation. It doesn't have to be a full game announcement or a trailer or anything, but just a hint. Kind of like how they teased the new Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus for PS3. I don't think there's a single PlayStation fan that wasn't excited and part of the excitement was because most of us thought it was a PS4 announcement. While i'm glad that it's on PS3 I was actually a little dissapointed because I'm dying for some new PS4 news. Any kind of news. I'm just tired of reading about Xbox which I will never buy because Microsoft has no integrity and no balls., but also can't deny that it's not wise to allow them to build momentum. When you crush your opponent you have to crush them completely. No matter what Sony is planning you don't give a company as huge as Microsoft a chance to regain footing, because it can just as easily backfire.

MadchesterManc

#18

MadchesterManc said:

@ObviouslyAdachi It does appear to be more like the XNA stuff before. It looks suspiciously like developers will not be using a full SDK but rather the cut down version to run within the Windows OS hypervisor rather than the XBox one. This seems to be what the Unity engine is targeting - to allow "Windows 8 developed games" to run on XBox One as well as MS's other platforms. So I am not sure how things will bed out. The XNA/XBLIG model where anyone publishes anything (suggested by the 14 day iTunes style approval) means that we will tend to get a load of fart apps rather than the next Braid.
MS seem to be doing a very low entry App Store.

8vpiper

#19

8vpiper said:

@get2sammyb I think they are smart not to give all their software secrets, gamescon should be mainly about Vita "IF" they have it to announce that is.

SSM and Naughty Dog should be left for the VGA's in my opinion keep your big guns for closer to launch to regain mind share just before the purchase is going to be made. That said they still have plenty studios to announce games from in between, maybe just a tease of SSM game like they did with the order along with one or two of the other studios games.

They hopefully learnt with Vita to spread it out. I just want more freedom wars info if I'm honest :p

rjejr

#22

rjejr said:

@3Above - Yeah, most (probably like 98%) of COD players don't care about dev kits or self-publishing games. This news won't affect them at all.

In case everyone forgot Sony has had some issues of it's own -
Root Kit
some (ignorant) people are still waiting for trophies in Home
PSP Remote play has been an afterthought
Other OS was removed, right after Sony said they wouldn't
Sony spent the entire pre-PS3 launch talking about how great backwards compatibility was and MOCKING MS for not having it on the 360, then Sony dumped it so they could resell all their PS2 games in HD

Sony has been handling the PS4 much better, but MS isn't the only company that messes up.

MS is never going to sell an X1 w/o Kinect. Even if they never make a Kinect game they have the voice and motion activation too deep in the OS. They'll just sell X1 for $299 w/ $15 monthly subscription for 2 year ($24 x $15 = $360 + $299 = $659) so they'll be ok). The only reason to even unveil a $499 console - after how bad the PS3 sold at $599 - is so the monthly plan price of $299 looks good.

MadchesterManc

#23

MadchesterManc said:

@rjejr 'Sony spent the entire pre-PS3 launch talking about how great backwards compatibility was and MOCKING MS for not having it on the 360, then Sony dumped it so they could resell all their PS2 games in HD'

Really? I was more under the impression it was dropped due to all the whiners at launch complaining about the cost of the full-blown 60GB. When you consider it had the Ps2 on the motherboard too, Which at the time still cost £100+, it was easy to see why it was expensive (although I dont think it was personally with the tech inside) Sony did try to keep BC and cut costs with an 80GB model that removed the Emotion Engine and emulated it on the Cell but the results weren't up to scratch. Hence BC removed n then cheaper Ps3's for all! Its funny though cuz now those same whiners complain about a lack of BC. seriously some people are a joke. You cant have your cake and eat it lol I doubt it was due to re-selling Ps2 games mainly because theres barely any Ps2 games that have been re-released on Ps3. Theres a handful of HD remasters and the Ps2 classics section on the PS store has pretty much about 30 titles (in the EU anyway, not sure of NA or JAP) Id understand that train of thought if there was more than a minute fraction of Ps2 titles available. Ill agree with the other points tho. Its funny id actually forgot about the trophies in Home. Reading that reminded of the early screenshots of trophy room. That damn old-skool Sony hype :D lol

DirectAim

#25

DirectAim said:

@8vpiper They might have five years to plan a new console but do not have to wait to see what hardware will be available closer to release. I mean the consoles aren't exactly using a 5 year old processor are they?

Did Sony really know 8gig GDDR5 ram would be possible in the PS4 even 12months ago?!

get2sammybAdmin

#26

get2sammyb said:

@OrbitScant I've read that, and while it seems possible, it sounds like Brian is speculating. However, this is the problem with Microsoft announcing stuff and failing to provide any clarification on how it will work. It seems it learned nothing from the DRM saga, and is continuing to be obtusely vague.

charlesnarles

#27

charlesnarles said:

Microsoft's next announcement: Xbox Portable featuring a brilliant 5" multitouch OLED screen, complete with dual analogs and rear touchpad.
Could they be any less comforting to investors?

8vpiper

#29

8vpiper said:

@DirectAim i do agree with the actual hardware specs as you said but the policies are what I think is Xbone's biggest stumbling block. Yes the ps4 is faster but they could still combat that like they did with the 360 i.e not noticeable to general public

Zombie_Barioth

#30

Zombie_Barioth said:

@MadchesterManc
I doubt the PS2's emotion engine contributed that much to the price, for one thing the PS2 was around $130 at the time so the chip couldn't have been that expensive to produce. The PS3 had $800 or so in hardware, a good chunk of that was the blu-ray drive seeing as stand-alone players were about $1,000 back then.

MadchesterManc

#31

MadchesterManc said:

@Zombie_Barioth Both the 60GB and the 80GB also contained the Graphics Synthersiser GPU of the Ps2 as well for backwards compatibility. Thats why I stated that the Ps2 was pretty much present on the 60GB motherboard as both the CPU+GPU were used for BC. Ill agree blu-ray was most definately the largest part of the cost. Removing BC tho meant about $100 could be shaved off the cost easily hence it was probably a good decision at the time with the situation Sony found themselves in due to the price of the Ps3

Zombie_Barioth

#32

Zombie_Barioth said:

@MadchesterManc
Ok, I get what your saying now. I didn't know the PS3 had more than just the "emotion engine" built in. Yea, pretty much having a PS2 built in would definitely account for the high launch price, and the original size of the console.

JaxonH

#33

JaxonH said:

@MrHilster Right. But it was never about not being able to connect, it was about the fact you shouldn't have to. All systems have updates, even day one updates.

Abynx

#34

Abynx said:

How come the awkward looking suits presenting the TV,TV,TV,sports,sports and wait there's this dog! - box: How come they said that the system needs to connect to the Internet once every 24 hours and if so was this for updates or checks from Microsofts dev team? And then if this is the case, and now all of a sudden now it doesn't need to check in, what services have been cut?
Assuming all systems were in place and all their ducks were in a row, how did Microsoft now manage to get these system checks that allow games to run out of the deal and still have these games able to run?
Why are people ok with this?
I understand that they had their heads in the 'cloud' regarding gaming and that part if the daily access was for that... I just don't see why there isn't even more of a fuss being made over their 180 turnaround. It almost makes their first presentation and then the second one very bull**** and untrustworthy.
I will never buy into Microsoft ever again and I am so glad I stuck with Sony and Apple.

Grockumus

#35

Grockumus said:

@ObviouslyAdachi Yeah, they'd definitely take a lion's share from profits. Probably even charge monthly fees for the "privilege" alone, unless you get Doritos and Mountain Dew together and show it to the Kinect. :P

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