“I think we are in an enviable position,” Microsoft’s Chris Lewis told MCV in an interview published today. The statement can seem crazy. As many would point out, Sony’s PS4 has a clear lead over Microsoft’s Xbox One in pre-order numbers. But Lewis believes Microsoft’s flip-flopping on issues like DRM and online connectivity requirements has given the company a better image.
What if Microsoft had not flip-flopped? It’s an interesting question to consider. But here’s a more important question: why are we referring to Microsoft’s approach as “flip-flopping” in the first place?
“Flip-flopping” is a derogatory term used in U.S. politics to describe a politician who changes his or her mind to appease voters. When you’re looking to elect a leader, flip-flopping raises concerns about integrity, consistency and character.
The fact that gamers are using such a term speaks to how politicized gaming has become. Sure, we had the Sega vs. Nintendo debates during the 1990s, but the Internet has helped create a breed of brand loyalty that is comparable to party affiliation in U.S. politics.
Regardless of whether you agree with the gaming/politics comparison, Microsoft changed its mind to appease customers. In essence, the company was following “The customer is always right.”
Here is the significant difference between U.S. politicians and game console manufacturers: U.S. politicians can reveal bad character with flip-flopping, but game console manufacturers can reveal smart business with flip-flopping.
People who characterize Microsoft’s “flip-flopping” as a bad thing are fanboys who might as well vote “Sony” in the next U.S. presidential election. People who care about consumer concerns, however, should be thankful for Microsoft’s 180s. If you’re doing something dreadfully wrong, you should change your mind. In fact, sustainable eighth generation console sales might depend on such flexibility.