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Microsoft’s Penello: “We knew [always online] was going to be a controversial decision.”

Leo McCloskey September 5, 2013 - 7:38 pm

Xbox product director says that always on is the “one thing” he would have done differently in Microsoft’s sea of U-turns, warns that ”discs are going to go away” eventually.

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Microsoft director of product planning, Albert Penello, says that fans may have misunderstood the motives behind some of the controversial decisions taken during the build-up to the launch of Xbox One. After numerous changes of policy over the last few months, including indie self-publishing and whether or not Kinect would be necessary to run the console at all, Penello accepts that trying to force always online on consumers would be something he’d take back if he could.

“If I had to go back… and redo one thing, that would be the one thing,” Penello tells Rev3 Games – as transcribed by Gamasutra. “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 explains, “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.’”

Penello explains to Rev3 how returning to the days of booting up games within seconds of turning the console on remains a priority – and laments the increased wait that gamers face in the wake of more powerful hardware. While he sees a future without disks at all, Penello feels that Microsoft’s recent switcheroos have been a bi-product of listening to consumer feedback.

“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.’”

“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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