*UPDATE* – 02/14/2016
Some people here in our comments and in our other channels have disputed if Microsoft stated Quantum Break was only coming to Xbox One. In the first video it states the game is an Xbox One exclusive at the end, and during their conference video they state “coming ONLY to Xbox One” a few seconds in:
If you don’t want to watch the videos, here is the closing roll from the ‘Time is Power’ advertisement released about 6 months ago, and the newest ‘The Cemetery’ from about three days ago. Clear difference in marketing.
Original article follows
Microsoft made an announcement yesterday regarding the once-platform-exclusive Quantum Break coming to PC, along with select future first and third party releases. In a move that Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, called “good for gamers,” people that purchase the Xbox One version of the upcoming Quantum Break will also get a free copy for the PC (it’s not yet been announced if it works the other way around). This move will now fully merge the two ecosystems together.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) February 11, 2016
The Xbox community just got sliced down the middle
So why are people upset? Well, it probably depends on who those people are. In one corner, you have owners of the Xbox One that also own a gaming PC. In another corner, you have the die hard console owners that will defend their Xbox One to the death. Both sides are upset at this announcement to some degree, and it’s not all wrong.
Consoles offer a unique experience in the gaming market, by design. They are cheap (relative to dedicated gaming PCs), work out of the box with no effort on the end of the user, make for great multimedia machines and often offer better graphic fidelity dollar-for-dollar but, most of all, offer exclusive games and experiences you can’t find anywhere else. It’s the exclusive games that really set consoles apart from PC, and today Microsoft just rocked that boat more than what’s been done in the past by other games.
If you’re a consumer that owns a gaming PC and an Xbox One, it’s probably because of one reason: exclusives. PC gets all the best multi-platform titles, it runs those games in the best way possible, there is often modding opportunities – the list of pros goes on. But with all the power and glory the PC might get, the gaming crowd of that platform often miss out on many of the truly best exclusives out there. Unless they own a console from Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo, there are awesome games they’re missing out on; PC power and graphics be damned. These are the people that are well within reason of being upset about this cross-buy announcement.
If you own a gaming PC and bought an Xbox One to enjoy exclusives, cross-buy has essentially nullified your purchase – and being upset about that is justified. When you own a PC that can likely run these exclusives better than the Xbox One, there is little incentive to own that console anymore. You put out the hundreds of dollars for pretty much nothing. On top of it, you are going to get a better version of the game and all the online features – for FREE. This is almost like buying a Blu-ray and getting the DVD copy with it, but reversed. On a level, this is the shitty end of the stick for you PC-Xbox One guys.
This is a contrast to what PlayStation has been doing for awhile now. With PlayStation, Sony isn’t competing against itself when they enable cross-buy because more often than not those titles are shared between PS4 and the Vita. The Vita isn’t a threat to PS4. Windows is a threat to Xbox, however. It’s not a debate, computers are better machines, and the power they have is becoming more and more affordable as time goes on. What is the incentive to buy an Xbox One when the exclusives are available in a better format on PC? If someone has an Xbox One and PC today, what is the incentive for that person to keep their Xbox One and not just sell it so they can get these great new games on their computer? Not only would they get a better version of the game, but there is no Gold membership needed to take full advantage of the title. Microsoft is walking a dangerous line right now.
Some air needs to be cleared
There was an online battle that broke out between Phil Spencer and some gamers in the community (some bigger than others). In the little feud, Phil Spencer interpreted a message from CrapGamer in a way that wasn’t actually being stated.
@The_CrapGamer You cancelled a pre-order for a game you want to play because someone else get’s to play the game on Windows?
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) February 11, 2016
Some outlets are writing up articles using CrapGamer as the poster child in this mess, and I’m sorry, but that’s not what is going on. Mind you, I’m generally not a fan of CrapGamer’s content, but these other articles are completely off the mark (some more than others). His argument, when you follow the rest of the tweets, has nothing to do with being upset about the game coming to PC. He’s upset, and rightfully so, about the slight-of-hand Microsoft pulled by selling everyone Quantum Break as an Xbox One exclusive, since day one, only to renege on that about a month before the game comes out.
— The CrapGamer (@The_CrapGamer) February 11, 2016
While Microsoft was never direct about Quantum Break or other titles never coming to PC, they have continued to beat around the bush when asked, using deceptive language to imply certain titles, like Quantum Break, will likely not be on PC. This is certainly not the first time that Microsoft has been caught up in controversy with their deceptive language and flip-flopping decisions made around the Xbox One. At one point, Microsoft swore up and down that the Xbox One couldn’t operate without the Kinect. When they backtracked on that, then they claimed the Kinect would never not be bundled with the Xbox One because the Kinect and Xbox One pairing is part of the entire vision for the generation. Not more than a few months later, Microsoft removes the Kinect from the Xbox One bundle and has all but killed support for the peripheral. In another bout of controversy, Microsoft had a problem of mishandling the Rise of the Tomb Raider exclusivity deal. When it was initially announced as an exclusivity deal, it was only for the Xbox One and Xbox 360. It was like this almost up until the launch of the game when Square Enix finally came out and announced that the game is indeed actually going to release on PC in early 2016 (it’s actually out now) and PlayStation 4 that holiday season. Wow.
Microsoft, stop being so deceptively coy
Obviously, strategies need to be secret because that’s how the competitive market works. Nobody is going to hate on, or blame, the company for that (or they shouldn’t). However, there needs to be a level of transparency about matters like the one being discussed right now. There would have been far less of an issue in the community if Microsoft announced day one that Quantum Break was going to be released on PC (along with a slew of other titles now on or going to PC that were once Xbox One exclusive, like Ryse). There wasn’t this kind of outcry about Street Fighter V going to PS4 and PC, because Sony was upfront about the deal when they announced the game. This honesty ensured people understood what they were getting into if they happened to be that hardcore about the franchise. Sure, people were upset with the Street Fighter V exclusivity for other reasons, but nobody was objectively upset because it was PURELY a PlayStation 4 exclusive and then backtracked near launch as “oh, by the way, it’s now going to be on PC.”
Some things, like exclusivity arrangements, should be handled better by these companies. When people make purchasing decisions based on a lineup of software, the companies need to be honest about the availability of those titles. They shouldn’t be announcing a title one way, and then releasing it another. How can consumers trust their word if these guys continually flip-flop on their messaging to us? Some transparency goes a long way, especially when dealing with gamers – a notoriously fickle and vocal demographic that’s easily angered. When gamers that own a gaming PC want to buy a PS4, they can trust Sony – to this day – that their first and second party exclusives will never be on PC. The same can be said for Nintendo. This trust gives these particular consumers the peace of mind that their investment won’t be nullified by the exclusives they bought the console for getting released on the superior gaming PC platform. If you want to play Uncharted or Zelda, you have to buy a PlayStation or Nintendo console. The same cannot be said about Xbox One, and that’s truly a problem for Microsoft, even if they won’t publicly acknowledge that.
Xbox as a service?
Again I need to reiterate – there is nothing wrong with Quantum Break being on PC. The issue isn’t that, it’s the timing of the announcement. In fact, it’s not even the timing, it’s the entire handling of Microsoft’s message to consumers. When people bought into the Xbox One ecosystem, they bought into it because of the exclusives and maybe some of the multimedia features. Exclusives are what sell platforms, not the third party multi-platform titles. Xbox and Windows have always been their own standalone ecosystems. Now, Microsoft is making those ecosystems one. Some see this as a good thing, and others see it as bad. I personally see it as a positively gray strategy.
Xbox isn’t going anywhere this generation. Nobody should be worried about that. But with some of the moves Microsoft has been making lately (integration of Windows 10, keyboard and mouse, pro controller and cross-buy to name a few), the future of Xbox that we know today is questionable. I personally don’t think we will see another platform. I think next generation Microsoft will turn Xbox into a service. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually take their gaming division and go down the path of SEGA. Will we some day see Master Chief on PlayStation and Nintendo? I wouldn’t doubt it. This makes sense when you consider that Microsoft’s strengths are in Software as a Service (SaaS), servers and productivity software.
Historically, Microsoft’s fortune with hardware has been shaky and sometimes outright failures. They are a software company and that’s where they will probably recollect themselves to being. Let’s not forget we’re talking about a company that now owns Minecraft (a multiplatform franchise) and the popular Havok engine (used on games across platforms). In addition, they’ve publicly stated that cloud computing via Azure, one of the selling points of Xbox One over the competition, is now available for any company to utilize – that means their competitors, PlayStation and Nintendo. Every move that Microsoft has been making with the Xbox One lately has been one that’s slowly breaking down walls and entry barriers to the Xbox platform. This statement from Phil Spencer might be more telling than it seems at first glance:
@The_CrapGamer I’ve said it over and over, we are focused on the best place to play for gamers, not about creating walls.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) February 11, 2016
Fanboys, I’m not done yet
Around the Internet in different forums and social media outlets, another group of people are raging. Those raging people are the fanboys. If you’re an Xbox fanboy that got upset about this, you’re on a whole other level. If you’re pissed about this announcement, it’s because you have some deep seeded issues you need to evaluate. There is nothing you can say to justify any outrage that you’re expressing. Does the game being on a platform you don’t own and/or play on have any bearing on your life? Does the availability of the game on PC make the game less entertaining? It shouldn’t. There is no real downside to this announcement for people that just play on consoles. If you are upset, it’s because you’re a “console war” warrior and you just lost a bunch of ammunition for your battle of semantics around which piece of plastic is better. This is a value-added proposition, and if you oppose it as console owner, you’re acting insane.
So how do you guys feel about this new strategy by Microsoft? Do you see it as positive, negative or maybe somewhere in between? Sound off in the comments!