Space for Rent: Three Cheers for the Status Quo


Tweet of the Day: Privilege and Entitlement in Geekdom


What is going on here?

The picture above doesn’t make a lot sense, not without proper context. Do you remember my post on corporate hubris? It turns out Mr. Adam Orth, former employer of Microsoft got fire for letting the cat out the bag a bit too soon:



It turns out that Microsoft was planning to release their console with built in DRM (Digital Right Management, a common anti-piracy format) by having users plug their machines to the internet and have a cyclopean little brother (in the form of the Kinect 2.0) watching everything you do. Yes, you can toggle a few privacy settings, but the damn thing won’t work if you don’t have the Kinect. Which is the reason why it costs $100 (US) more than its immediate rival. Microsoft tried to soft sell these new “features” but the truth of the matter is that Sony won by virtue of not changing a thing.

Yes, a company “won”  E3 by maintaining the status quo.

But why? Simply put from a consumers point of view all these new features are either unnecessary (such as having to include people on a list so you can share games, hence Sony’s reply in the picture above) or downright intrusive. They reveal a monopolistic attitude.

We own the product.

We will decide what you do with your property.

We will “allow” you to share with friend

We will inform you of authorized dealers to whom you can sell the product you “rented” from us.




At the many features touted are not even aimed at the consumer base. You see consoles are the kissing cousins of the old arcade games. Literally the sprung up with the promise of “Bringing the arcade home.” A straight forward experience where in you dropped a coin on the slot or pushed a cartridge in place and started playing.

Simple, no?

Yet something changed in the last few years, something that has pushed the big game developers/distributors and Microsoft to shift from trying to compete to trying monopolize. I heard many answers to why this is happening, but it seems to me that fear has to do a lot with it. The costs of making Triple-A tittles (the industry equivalent to summer blockbusters) has risen as has the risks. Instead of adjusting to fit the changing market Microsoft and it distributor allies have sought to lock it down. The sought to maintain their own status quo. That’s right, by changing the way games are treated, property wise, they are seeking to maintain their dominant position in the market without having to compete in that market. Distributors like EA and Activision demand that every game have multiplayer options, which means that single-player experience gets short changed, and it also means that they have invest in server space costs well after the initial sell.  They spend millions on advertising in spaces where most of their audience doesn’t dwell and flood those that do with endless costly trailers that offer little to no insight into the actual product. They go the safe route of pushing an endless series of sequels until the franchise/IP is turned to mush.

In other words, they shift the burden to the consumer for a series of bad marketing policies.

Sony decided that they seen this before, and won over their consumers by the virtue of not imposing any restrictions on their experience.

Game Console+Games+Gamers=Fun.

Hurray for the status quo indeed.



2 comments on “Space for Rent: Three Cheers for the Status Quo

  1. I’m amazed at how tone deaf Microsoft has been with their announcement of Xbox One. They will do well with the gamers with deep pockets, but the 24-hr check-in and mandatory camera and being online is NUTS.


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