Microsoft's decision to drop Xbox One's game licensing policies - and thus, allow next generation Xbox games to be traded, rented, loaned and given away without restriction - has been met with wide applause. Not everybody's pleased, however. A portion of players mourn the loss of the online sharing features (including the 10-family-member scheme) Xbox One's DRM was designed to enable; others feel Microsoft has merely postponed the console market's inevitable transition to digital licensing models.
But where do third party developers and retailers stand on the matter? OXM contacted a number of industry luminaries for their thoughts earlier this morning, and discovered that feelings are no less mixed.
Green Man Gaming's founder and CEO Paul Sulyok is in a position to offer interesting insights on the move; his business straddles physical and digital games retail, having begun life as the UK's first digital pre-owned store and expanded to embrace boxed console and PC game distribution. According to Sulyok, Green Man Gaming was "ready to welcome Microsoft for the proposed trade-in facility", but is "equally very happy to deal" with a continuation of the manufacturer's Xbox 360 policies.
Discussing the politics of the reversal, he commented that it's "very good from our perspective that Microsoft listened to both consumers and retailers", and suggested that Microsoft had "evened up the playing field" for the coming battle with PS4. According to Sulyok, launching Xbox One as the only next gen console that controls the sharing and resale of games would have been "very dangerous" - Microsoft's machine might not have achieved "critical mass" at market, which would have discouraged third party investment in the platform. This would have been a "bad situation for the industry as a whole".
TIGA CEO Dr Richard Wilson is also pleased. "Microsoft's decision to ensure that with Xbox One gamers will be able to lend games to their friends, sell them, buy them used or rent them without restrictions is good news for the consumer. This sensible decision will help to lance the boil of criticism that Microsoft has received." He feels the manufacturer could do more, however. "I now hope that Microsoft will take steps to encourage and support more indie developers to create content for the Xbox One."
That's the conclusion reached by Dan Morse, community and PR manager for Oddworld Inhabitants. "Although we're very happy that Microsoft have listened to public outcry at the policies, we feel there is still more to be done," he wrote. "It's clear that their strategy for the Xbox One is to encourage a transition from relying on physical media to digital content distribution without significant disruption.
"Platforms like Sony's PSN and Valve's Steam have shown that customers are happy to buy digital content, and the success of indie games such as Stranger's Wrath HD and Thomas Was Alone add weight to the fact that it's the way forward for companies of all sizes.
"Those indie successes would not have been possible if it weren't for self-publishing," Morse went on, echoing a previous conversation with OXM. "For Microsoft to make it so much more difficult for indies to hit their platforms is not only bad for them, but for customers, fans and the industry as a whole.