Microsoft is beginning to question its identity but along the way it’s, inadvertently or not, stepped on gamers several times. For a long time, the company has been able to corner large swaths of the market. That’s been evident with ecosystems like its Windows operating system, its Office suite of applications, and to a lesser extent with the Xbox.

When Microsoft first announced the Xbox One and indicated that gamers may need to connect at least once every 24 hours ¬†to Xbox Live in order to play games they’d purchased, it looked like consumers were almost ready to bite the bullet and accept that requirement, though certainly with some grumbling. Only after Sony followed up with an announcement that they would follow existing precedent and allow players to use games as long as they had the disc did Microsoft succumb to pressure and change course.

Now more details are arriving around Microsoft’s plans for what functionality will be accessible with and without an Xbox Gold subscription. It seems that Microsoft is learning the same lesson all over again, and too often the company errs on the side of profits over customer experience.

Features requiring a $60/year subscription to Xbox Gold include: ¬†multiplayer gaming, Netflix, Skype, gameplay recordings, and Internet Explorer. Multiplayer gaming makes sense because they’re organizing data between many different points on a network and providing services to match gamers with other similarly skilled players. But Netflix? Internet Explorer? That feels more like gouging and a way to aggravate users into ponying up $60.

It’s no wonder then that players are adopting other platforms in growing numbers. Platforms like iOS and Android. So far these newer gaming platforms have also been more welcoming and compatible with Indie Developers. Regardless of the content though and a company’s goals, it seems like some people are ok playing by the rules of a walled garden and others want to control their own device and access services on their own terms.

I’m all for controlling my own device and accessing services already available on the open Internet on my own terms without paying a middle man. But, I’m sure many Xbox players are ok paying $60 per year. At SYNTH7 we’ll be regularly evaluating which ecosystems we want to participate in, and I think increasingly gamers and Indie Developers will influence the rules of those ecosystems.

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