A year ago, I woke up at 8am. This isn’t a time I usually wake up at. For the most part, when everyone else is getting breakfast I’m making my way to bed. Seeing any sort of of morning rush hour means that I’m well and truly out of my comfort zone. Cafes are still serving their breakfast menus and none of the pubs are open. Mornings are really weird. This strange, confusing new world would have been much scarier if it hadn’t been for the reason I woke up at this ungodly hour. My quest was simple; collect my Day One Edition Xbox One.
At a cost of £430 I purchased the console with no games. Alright, it came with a downloadable copy of FIFA 14 but honestly, a sealed vial of diphtheria would have been more useful. The purchase back then and even now is still one which I am proud of. Not once has the bitter taste of regret passed across my lips when considering the biblical amount of money I spent on a plastic box with a camera. Having said that I do wish that it cost £420 so I could get a taxi back rather than heaving what at the time felt like a neutron star onto public transport.
I purchased a sofa at half the price and that came with wheels, so why not an Xbox One? Anyway, I digress.
Admittedly, a week later I did buy a PlayStation 4. I’ll draw a line right here, too. There is nothing I prefer about either console. Each one has its own merits and flaws. That isn’t what this is all about.
What it is actually relating to though came around a year later. Microsoft made a song and dance most flash mobs would be proud of for their appreciation program. For anyone who’s never heard of this, basically all people who bought an Xbox One at launch and played it at any point during the launch weekend were promised a special gift for their dedication to the cause. Many got excited before being whipped up into a tornado of speculation.
Could early adopters be getting their hands on a free copy of Halo: The Master Chief Collection or Sunset Overdrive? Maybe they’ll be treated to a taste of the Halo 5: Guardians Beta or even Forza Horizon 2? What about a free copy of Never Alone on Xbox One or some exclusive Grand Theft Auto V/Dragon Age: Inquisition currency packs?
My expectations – not to mention probably those of countless others – were quashed when early Xbox One adopters received their rewards. We were given an ‘exclusive’ gamer picture which at least 100,000 others probably had, a copy of Halo: Forward Unto Dawn, some backgrounds for social media platforms and a poster. While most of those aren’t exactly awful, the fact that I was expected to print my own reward felt like a kick in the teeth. You can afford to send out promotional materials like nobody’s business Microsoft, why do I have to print my own poster at the cost of my own resources.
The final reward was probably intended by Microsoft to be the big thank you to Xbox One owners but it felt like a half-arsed present – like getting socks on Christmas when you bought the other person a personalized jigsaw or something. It was Limbo. Now, Limbo is not a bad game. Hell, far from it, Limbo is a truly amazing game which everyone should play and enjoy. That’s the problem though. Everyone already probably has played Limbo.
Most likely included in that are those who would buy a console on launch day. I already own Limbo on three platforms (Xbox Live Arcade, PS Vita and PC) and I expect that I’m far from alone in this.
I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth and say it’s a bad thing. It feels a little special to be offered a game for free as it releases. The problem for Microsoft though is that their dealings with the Xbox One are always going to be compared to others. Not only to their main rivals Sony but also with publishers like Ubisoft. PlayStation 4 owners already get a huge amount of quite nice games by simply subscribing to a service. While Microsoft’s Games With Gold service offers the same sort of thing on Xbox One, it often misses the mark with the titles it offers.
Why did I mention Ubisoft? Well, people who bought Assassin’s Creed Unity will all be given a free lump of DLC to say sorry for the launch issues. Those who have already put down some cash on a season pass are being offered a complete game for their troubles. These aren’t older games either, these are recently released titles like Far Cry 4 and upcoming ones like The Crew. If Ubisoft can afford to offer a free full-price retail game to people after they’ve spent a mere £50/$60 on a title, why couldn’t Microsoft do the same after a £430/$499 purchase at launch?
It’s a strange way to reward dedicated Xbox fans who have already had to deal with some other issues around Xbox One exclusive titles. No one is realistically expecting them to offer free copies of Halo: The Master Chief Collection to anyone who played in the launch weekend, but the offer of something would have been nice. Especially since they aren’t opposed to handing out free games when something is wrong.