Microsoft Cares Only About the Bottom Line, Not Gamers

Would you really expect anything less from the company that invented Windows? The bottom line is all that matters.

Those of you in business school will respond, “Well, of course they care about the bottom line. They’re in business, after all.”

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And obviously, Sony and Nintendo care about the bottom line, too. If that bottom line isn’t rosy, things go bad for everyone involved, including the gamers. However, as I touched upon in a recent editorial, Microsoft’s reputation has suffered over the years, due partly to shoddy hardware and lack of software (at times), and due partly to this:

It’s money first, gamers second with Microsoft. It always has been and always will be.

They won’t budge unless they see losses, or have internal data forecasting losses

Last year, when the Xbox One was initially announced, most gamers were just plain irate. The policies scheduled to be in place for Microsoft’s next-gen system didn’t go over well and for a while, the PlayStation 4 ran away with the popularity contest. I distinctly recall a certain Facebook poll that actually had to be stopped before it officially finished, because the PS4 had something like 92 percent of the vote. It was ridiculous.

Microsoft didn’t immediately respond. They said nothing, in fact. They waited to see just how bad things would get, and only when they finally decided that the Xbox One launch would go badly did they decide to make some changes. I guarantee they weren’t going to make a move unless some internal study somewhere came back saying, “Change this or lose money.”

The most annoying part is that Microsoft played the “we listen to our gamers” card when they reversed those policies. Why would anyone believe such crap at that point? Those ideas for the console when it was first announced is a perfect example of how Microsoft sees the gaming public: As nothing more than consumers. It’s not about satisfying them; it’s about making as much money off of them as humanly possible. Yeah, it’s why we’ve been charged several hundred dollars for each new Windows upgrade for years.

Not long after the $399 announcement comes the release date for Halo 5. While it’s true that all platforms have franchises that are definite cash cows, it’s not ironic that Microsoft dropped the price of the system first and then announced a date for their single biggest franchise. Honestly, this is what they do.

Yes, all companies try to make the most money possible. That’s the objective, of course. That being said, there’s a reason why certain companies have certain reputations among the consuming populace, and why Microsoft has the reputation it does among gamers. Those who are paying attention know Microsoft would never have reversed or rescinded any policy originally announced with the Xbox One if they thought the launch would be fine.

And now, six months of complaints after the launch, M$ “responds” again

Forcing us to purchase Kinect with the Xbox One was a dumb move to start with. It gave the competition a $100 advantage and really, Kinect wasn’t enough to override that price gap. Not even close. Had Microsoft released two versions of the system – one with Kinect and one without – I’m confident they would currently have the lead in the US, and the next-gen gap in other territories wouldn’t be as big as it now.

Microsoft obviously saw it this way as well, and once again, they go and play the white knight. Did you see that article on their site talking about how they’re dedicated to giving gamers “choice?” Yeah? How much “choice” were you giving us when you announced the Xbox One? How Nazi-esque were the caveats that went with an Xbox One purchase? You know, the ones you had to ditch if you were going to get anyone to buy the console?

If you were into giving us choice, you never would’ve revealed the Xbox One as such. You never would’ve forced us to buy Kinect right out of the gate, and kept it that way for six months.

And hey, here’s something else to remember: The Xbox 360 was catastrophically bad in terms of reliability. Reports of 30-35 percent defective rates from major retailers flooded the Internet; many gamers went through two, three, four and even more 360s. Not everyone just got theirs fixed after the “Red Ring of Death;” in fact, there’s no telling how many just bought the system again.

Did that not keep sales high? Why do you think it took more than three years for Microsoft to implement a program to deal with this problem? Well, because that RRoD issue added to sales, didn’t it? Some skeptics say it’s the same theory behind hospitals these days; give the patients something to deal with one problem, only to cause four more problems that force them to come back and give the hospital more money.

But anyway, the point is this: Given all the evidence, I can’t possibly fathom how Microsoft doesn’t have an even worse reputation.


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Author
Fathoms_4209
A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.