Wednesday, November 15, 2006

As if Microsoft doesn't have ENOUGH money

I'm beginning to see a pattern in the way Microsoft's new business models are playing out. Now that they have made their fortunes from you buying stuff once, they want you to buy stuff twice. Consider these two recent articles:
  • According to Dan Pourhadi, the new "iPod-Killer-Don't-They-Wish" from Microsoft, called the "Zune" is based on a subscription model for music. The idea is that instead of buying up a whole music library and then listening to only what you buy, you instead pay a subscription fee, and then have access to the entire library to listen to. Only with the Microsoft Zune, you pay a subscription fee and still have to buy the music you want to listen to. (If it's there - Zune Marketplace is reportedly pretty barren at this stage.)
  • According to Tycho at Penny Arcade, EA (and I'd argue, the Xbox 360 development culture in general) is geared towards "unlockable content" which, as you might have guessed, requires a credit card to get unlocked. In other words, if the execs get their way, you will shell out $60 for that cool new game, but then if you want everything that is stored on that disk, you also have to connect up and pay $5 here, $5 there to unlock all the tantalizing pieces that they've essentially decided to lock up and hold for ransom. As Tycho says,
    Gamers aren't angry that they are being given (quote) choices, though let's be frank, these are some pretty shitty choices. They're angry because EA is trying to sell them the game they just bought, again, piece by piece.

Is it just me, or do these two "business model innovations" out of Redmond seem like two sides of the same coin, namely, fostering an environment where you pay Microsoft twice for every product they sell you? It would be one thing if that meant the two pieces were half the price, but neither Xbox games nor Zune music players or downloads seem to be going anywhere near half the market value. They're just double-dipping, pure and simple.

So if you buy a Zune, or buy unlockable Xbox content, I don't want to hear you whining about the price of music or games in five years when this experiment has become the de-facto standard, got it? You're part of the problem, not part of the solution.

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