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Microsoft reflects on the Xbox One 'always-online' furor
Microsoft reflects on the Xbox One 'always-online' furor
September 5, 2013 | By Mike Rose

September 5, 2013 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

"Was I surprised that people had a reaction to it? No. We knew it was going to be a controversial decision. Was I surprised how negative the reaction was going to be? Yes."
- Albert Penello, Microsoft's director of product planning, looks back at the Xbox One's original "always online" plan, and how consumer reaction led to the now infamous "180" decision.

The Xbox One was originally going to require the user be constantly connected to the internet to use the console. However, after a massive vocal backlash online, Microsoft reversed its decision to move the Xbox One more in line with how the Xbox 360 currently works.

Talking to Rev3Games, Penello admitted that the company probably attempted to introduce always-on functionality to a games console a little too early, and that with time, it will become accepted.

"If I had to go back... and redo one thing, that would be the one thing," he says. "I think with time, people have understood what we were trying to do, and I'm sure you've seen it with the fans. They've been saying 'God, I wish some of this stuff would come back.'"

"I think the problem was that people got in their minds that what we were trying to do was somehow evil or anti-customer," he continued, "when in fact we were looking at what Steam does, we were looking at what iOS is doing, we were looking where the customers were going and saying 'I think we can actually give you a better all-digital experience.'"

Always-online is going to happen at some point soon, notes Penello, whether it's this generation or next.

"Discs are going to go away," he says. "They've gone away in just about every other medium. I think if anything, we thought it was gonna happen sooner than the customer thought it was going to happen. We took a hard stance on it, and I think some customers were like, 'Yeah I'm in!', and other customers were like 'Whoa whoa whoa, what about my situation.'"

After the backlash, Microsoft realized that it needed to change its strategy. "The customers have spoken," Penello notes. "We were surprised at how vocal it was, and we were surprised at the reaction and assumptions that people had about what we were trying to do."

"So we did the famous '180', and we said you know what? We've got to listen to the customers. I hope at some point in the future, some of those cool features - the family sharing, the household sharing stuff, the games are always with you - we want to bring that stuff back. But hey, we had to stop the program, we put a pause on that, we started again, and we went back to the model that the customers asked for."

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