Microsoft remembers that its customers are people

A lesson for all tech companies: Microsoft designed its XBox One for users, but has been rapidly reminded that it’s people who buy consoles and play games.

Listening to people

When it comes to technology it’s all too easy to think of anonymous users: so many seats, downloads and devices. We’ve written before about this. Only drug dealers’ customers are ‘users’.  People who use technology are just that: people.

This week, Microsoft showed us why.

Now I’m not a big gamer myself, but some of my best friends are gamers, so the launch of the XBox One didn’t escape my notice. What did pass me by was how angry the (numerous and committed) gaming fans were at some parts of the announcement.

Apparently, Microsoft had declared that you would require an internet connection to play any game at all on the XBox One and that they were imposing limits on what you could do with re-sold disc games.

This was not in the spirit of the gaming community. And the gaming community said so.

(Internet-locking games didn’t work so well for EA either. Their recent SimCity fiasco got them named as the ‘worst company in America’. The same issue marred Blizzard’s Diablo III launch last year.)

On Wednesday, Microsoft proved that although it may have been thinking ‘users’ when it launched the XBox One, it now remembers that it’s people who buy Microsoft machines and play XBox games. Microsoft has bowed to peer pressure (Sony’s new PS4 had no similar restrictions) and to the voice of the people, and made a u-turn.

Better late than never, but this is one scenario in gaming where prioritising the real world would have been the better option from the start. When in doubt, optimise for the customer.

(Full disclosure: Microsoft is a customer of Turbine’s parent company, Articulate Marketing. EA was a client of our CEO’s previous business, Intelligent Games.)

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