It’s probably not nearly as benign as it sounds, but there have been a couple of stories that appear (on the surface) to be positive news. First, Microsoft is reportedly planning to bail on its Xbox Point system. This is good news for those of us that dislike the practice of converting real money into fake money into digital goods (see more here). It seems like they may still do the “wallet” thing, where you put money into a bin now to purchase things later, which has its own issues, but at least we will be able to see the actual, real price of things, rather than having to do on-the-fly currency conversions, which human brains are notoriously bad at. I mean, I’m still not likely to run out and buy a Windows Phone – or even necessarily go out of my way to upgrade to Windows 8 – but when I inevitably buy games on my shiny new Xbox’s digital download service, this should be a slightly-less-exploitative experience! Hooray.
The other bit of news is that EA is supposedly going to be ditching their Online Pass scheme. This is awesome. I’m still not going to rush out and buy a hundred EA titles – there are plenty of other totally legitimate reasons to avoid them – but it is at least one terrible business practice that they are rolling back. Along with their apparent need to TOTALLY CONFIRM, GUYS that you can play The Sims 4 offline, it’s possible that they are at least responding to protestations in ways that end up better for us, as consumers.
And with both Microsoft and Sony doing pre-emptive walkbacks of their always-online system requirements (or, at least, dumping future blame on developers/publishers), I feel like this is a good trend. I’m sure that there will be some other overbearing, stupid DRM and/or anti-consumer news to break us out of this loop, but we might as well enjoy this moment while it lasts. Yes, I’m claiming a (minor) victory – one that will surely come back to bite me in the ass – but we might as well take them where we can.