Xbox One’s reveal and subsequent policy u-turn saw Microsoft screw up. That’s the opinion of Atari founder Nolan Bushnell who, in an interview with VG247 stressed that despite its recent u-turn Microsoft no longer wants to sell you products; it wants you to rent them instead.
As part of an interview you can read here on VG247 soon, I asked the Atari founder for his thoughts on Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal and subsequent policy reversal, to which he replied, “They totally screwed it up. When I heard some of the announcements and the analysis of it, I’m shaking my head and saying, ‘What in the hell were they thinking?’ Of course that wasn’t going to go down well.”
He added that Microsoft’s interest in the cloud and the rationale behind its initial DRM policies was so it can block piracy, resulting in a content stream that rents digital copies of software, rather than letting you own a product outright.
“They want to sell Office as a service,” Bushnell added. “They want it all to be in the cloud, they want to rent you stuff, not sell you. And when you look at some of the things about systems and procedures, they really don’t like software as an object because it’s too easy to get it ripped off.”
He cited China’s rampant piracy rate as a potential catalyst for Microsoft’s initial policy, and continued, “In the back of their mind they look at a billion Chinese people, and they sell less software there than a small town in Texas.”
I then asked him about the whole trade-in issue, suggesting that although Microsoft may have reversed its own policies, that this doesn’t mean publishers still don’t want used-sales to disappear. I offered that we could face a similar discussion and backlash over used-blockers in years to come.
“I actually think that trade-ins are good and they bring in more money,” he replied, “now here’s the following thread: I believe that in a lot of ways, a $50 game is discontinuity. There are more people who can’t afford a $50 game than can. And so what has always been an ability to do is, if you can’t afford to get a new pair of jeans you go to thrift shop and buy a used pair of jeans, and the same thing goes with games.”
“Some people are willing to be the person who is the first on their block to a game and pay full price. if you’re willing to wait a month or two you can get it for half price. What happens in that case is that the person who bought the first instance has a little bit of money so he can continue to buy new games at a higher rate than he would have otherwise.
“I think the industry gets more money if you look at the whole picture because I think that people will spent what they can afford, and if you make the hurdle too high for people who are not as well off, they just won’t be able to buy the game at all.”
What’s your take on the above? Would a lower starting price-point for new games combat second-hand sales? Did Microsoft drop the ball with its initial strategy? Let us know below, and stay tuned for the full interview with Bushnell soon.