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Original Xbox One digital strategy was 'a really great idea' poorly explained, Astronauts co-founder says

Downloadable content, filler content and microtransactions have made games worse, and Microsoft's original Xbox One plan could have promoted developer experimentation with a market less dependent on used games, former People Can Fly creative director and The Astronauts co-founder Adrian Chmielarz wrote in Edge Online.

Chmielarz's thesis is that DLC, artificial extenders like locking the hardest difficulty on the first playthrough and microtransactions were born out of a desire to curb used game sales and entice players to "keep the disc in the tray," he wrote.

Microsoft's original plan for Xbox One could have begun to reverse this trend by de-emphasizing retail boxes in favor of digital ownership — which came at the cost of unpopular DRM policies.

"So, a company named Microsoft had this really great idea: let's accelerate the death of the box," he wrote. "The box is a mortally wounded animal in the need of the mercy kill, and Microsoft seemed to be ready to pull the trigger.

"But, as we all know, Microsoft went about it like an elephant in a china shop. Never able to explain what that 'once per 24 hours' check is for. Never able to explain how the used game sales work. Never able to communicate with clarity and brutal honesty. There was a great vision hidden somewhere behind it all, but all that people remembered was that waving your hands or speaking loud would change a TV channel."

Chmielarz believes that the "current ecosystem is rotten to the core, and unsustainable in the long term," but that Microsoft's recent reversal will cause "way more suffering along the way than there needed to be."

For more on Chmielarz and his thoughts about the future of gaming, be sure to read Polygon's interview from earlier this year where he laid out the case for "shorter, cheaper games."

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