Why the Microsoft u-turn is like any other industry facing change

Do not change

Status Quo. Not the dodgy soft rock band that never dies but the current state. Wikipedia defines it as ;

 a Latin term meaning the existing state of affairs. It is a commonly used form of the original Latin “statu quo” – literally “the state in which”. To maintain the status quo is to keep the things the way they presently are. The related phrase status quo ante, literally “the state in which before”, means “the state of affairs that existed previously”.

And that’s effectively what has happened in the games industry by forcing Microsoft to reverse its original policy decisions; maintain the status quo in lieu of an industry that needs to grow and evolve. I work predominantly in a sector where I often encounter resistance to change and am frequently met with challenges because “we’ve always done it this way“, and it appears that the games industry is no different.

Microsoft made a lot of bold moves in the Xbox One launch which clearly pissed off the hardcore set. But frankly, it’s not the hardcore that pay for the industry it’s the casual and average gamer. It’s a consumer based business after all so ask the man or woman on the street, the people who will be harassed by their children to buy one for Christmas and they couldn’t care less what has gone down over the last month, all they’ll bother with is that on launch day their pre-order unit will be waiting for collection and promptly shoved in the cupboard until December 25th.

The online and DRM policies were designed to drive the industry forward toward a digital future. After all, isn’t that where we’re all supposed to be heading ? Digital, Cloud, Social ? Sure, it will have killed off the second-hand trade and perhaps seen the UK Game stores close once and for all but really, is that a bad thing ? The Xbox360 still has legs and there’s plenty of games to still tempt people back to it while the One gains steam.

And you know what would have happened if Microsoft stayed the course ? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Like many other large enterprise companies that make seemingly consumer-defying decisions people would have bucked against it but over time fallen into a new way of thinking. That’s how change and evolution works. Sony is actually preserving the status quo because it doesn’t understand where the industry needs to go, it’s just appeasing the crowd and obviously pleased that the crowd rose to the occasion here.

The venomous backlash has actually cost the games industry a few years in advancing forward. Look around at the startup scene, where all the focus and buzz is in Silicon Valley for example and you’ll see that forcing Microsoft to remain tied to decade old thinking is wrong.

And whilst this may be a games related post the parallels are staggering in the industries that we operate in, whether BPM, CRM, Big Data, Financial Services, Manufacturing….we face the same backlash when we want to transform. I’m a gamer and it pains me to see this happening here on top of everywhere else now.

So well done everyone. Welcome back to the current state. Not the next-gen.

Because we’ve always done gaming this way…..

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