This isn’t a new argument; it’s been made before. Chances are high that you’ve made it yourself once or twice. Recent events, however, warrant revisiting it. Microsoft teased us all last week with a feature that the Xbox One should have had at launch. It told us that we’d all have the ability to do on Xbox One what we’ve enjoyed doing on digital distribution platforms like Steam and Origin for years: pre-purchase and pre-download a game prior to its release. Then, in a move that felt like some sort of cruel joke, Microsoft took it all back.
Just kidding, you guys
“Whoops, our bad. Sorry if you got excited, but we’re not actually going to let you do that thing we said we’d let you do that we know you want us to let you do,” Microsoft said in a statement after removing the pre-download option for first-person shooter Titanfall.
OK, no, it didn’t actually say that — but it might as well have. Here’s what Microsoft actually told told Polygon of its blunder: “The pre-purchase offer page was posted in error. We apologize for any confusion.”
The Xbox.com page for Titanfall, which releases on March 11, temporarily had the digital pre-download option that has been so conspicuously absent from digital Xbox purchase pages to date. It was quickly removed, and now Microsoft is apologizing for dangling that carrot out there before yanking it back and locking it away. Polygon captured the official explanation for how pre-downloading on Xbox would work before Microsoft “fixed the glitch.”
Pre-purchase: You will be charged the full price immediately for this pre-purchase. Xbox One game expected to release on March 11th, 2014. You may download the game from Xbox Live before then, but it will not be playable until after 12:01 AM PST on the release date in your country.
For a brief time, at least, it looked like gaming digitally on Xbox was now going to be a little bit more like gaming digitally on PC. It looked like it was going to have something that has become so commonplace in PC gaming that it’s no longer a value-added feature; it’s an expected part of the service that is taken for granted. Unfortunately, unlike those freewheeling distributors of digital PC games, Microsoft has interests other than its own to consider.
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