Well, that didn't take long.
After weeks of standing staunchly behind a set of decisions and plans for their Xbox One console that were so bafflingly, brazenly, obtusely anti-consumer that it even stood out in the videogame industry and drew fire even from pretty much everyone, Microsoft has backed down. The Xbox One has dropped, among things, its draconian anti-used games restrictions, its various DRM schemes and - perhaps most egregious - it's de facto always online requirements.
In an entertainment industry so often defined, perhaps more than any other, by the weary willingness of its fans to suffer indignities demanded by the corporate purveyors ("What do you mean no backwards compatibility?? This is... egh, fine. I guess I'll still buy it..."), this is a tremendous victory for consumers. It's not so much that gamers have shown themselves reluctant to organize - after all, whole corners of The Internet are buttressed by petitions regarding unsatisfying endings or incorrect Hedgehog eye colors - but rather that raging against the console titans has always proven fruitless. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have built their fortresses on strong foundations of reliable, loyal consumers and exclusivity arrangements that can coax grudging acquiescence to repeat business from the most jaded among us ... and worse, they know it.
But this time? This time, one of them went too far. Or, alternately, this time, we finally registered outrage at a decibel level which simply could not be ignored. Yes, there are bigger issues in the world, and people fighting for nobler causes. Balking at videogame DRM doesn't place one on par with the people being brutalized in Tahrir Square or digging their loved ones out from the rubble of a crooked sweatshop in Bangladesh. But fairly or not, in the nominally-capitalist West, the interplay of consumers and corporations is inextricably linked with the interplay of citizens and communities. As such, people willing to get mad and get noticed in regard to something as "frivolous" as a gaming hobby can be taken as a positive sign overall.
Make no mistake: This was a win - and a substantial one - for the plurality of gaming consumers who registered their outrage and the game journalists who did their jobs in reporting the offending information, digging for more, demanding answers and relaying said outrage through the amplifier of the new media. This could well be a watershed moment for gaming - the moment when everyone from console makers to publishers (who, let's be clear here, wanted these kinds of rigid restrictions by and large) were reminded for the first time in a generation of just who was supposed to be the boss in these relationships. You won. I won. We won.
So why am I watching so many people so eager to give their hard-won victory away to someone else?
The narrative of the anger against the Xbox One's various now-abandoned schemes began with the very first drippings of information about the new console, but it took awhile for the venom felt by early responders to gain traction in the conversational mainstream. Microsoft's almost flippantly dismissive pre-E3 reveal enraged gamers with its emphasis on non-gaming functionality, and when Don Mattrick was caught on camera at E3 2013 (where Microsoft delivered yet another info-lite, base-enraging showcase) condescendingly telling those who didn't want an always-online console to, in effect, stick with the previous generation's device, Microsoft had seemingly slipped into the role of Generation 8's reigning villain figure. All they needed was a "hero" to oppose them.