Wednesday, June 26, 2013

X-BONE 180: A Story of an Incompetent Company & Whiny Gamers

For the last two weeks, a good portion of the gaming world has been preoccupied with the XBOX ONE; known as the second coming if you were to ask Microsoft and the Antichrist if you looked in any comment section concerning the new console. So who is right? Probably neither if you asked me. Since on the high frequency end of the spectrum you have puling gamers and the other is the slow buffoonery of a company who doesn't seem to know how to relate to their community.

Shame On Them: Microsoft
From the the beginning they were trying to do something new with the XBOX One and managed to piss off a portion of people in the process. Microsoft wanted to reveal what I can only call their Hydra; a beast of a console to master the realms of gaming, media, social networking, digital distribution, health, all while watching you with a robotic eye. They released their creation at an event well before E3. The reason? Well, they wanted to show the culture and tech reporters the newest gadget to be grace living rooms across the country come this fourth quarter. The event was not really oriented towards the gaming community despite them being invited. What gamers took away from it was "TV, Kinect, TV, Smartglass, TV, and it can play games too." What everyone else took away was "Oh, well that's neat piece of tech." Probably not the best way to talk about your new console, but if you have ever seen a new tech shown at E3 you know the first half of it is fucking borrrring nonsense about specs (which doesn't matter because that isn't why people buy consoles) and how you can use your console to do things that you own other devices to do already (Unless this one can blow you... Can it blow you?...No?... No it can't, never mind.). So good on Microsoft for trying to avoid boring the shit out of gamers.
Then came E3. Games were announced, but sadly messaging was smeared like shit on so many dodgy gas station bathroom walls. Frankly the games were here and there, with a lot of gritty shooting in them. A big shocker I'm sure. The messaging was a surprise, from the underwhelming Microsoft event to the conflicting info all the reporting outlets received; it was a mess. At no point was the context of why decision were being made expressed to the public in a positive way. You don't lead with "Get ready for some DRM." Put it in some context "You can now share games with friends and family." Multitudes of gamers, myself included, use things like Steam or Good Old Games so we know the up side to DRM. Having the constraint of DRM is not the biggest issue to the medium, if you are giving people something for the restriction you are adding. For instance 'family plan' which is still a mystery to me (possibly a way to share a game licence) was something that they did not clarify and it may have been able to soften the blow. Then you have the 24 hour internet check ins which had people's heads spinning too. This was just so short sighted of Microsoft, because we don't have that infrastructure across this entire country for it to be mandatory in a console. I know that sounds crazy to you, who is reading this, on the internet, right now. Guess what not everyone has reliable connections to 'The Net' (Which sucks and will change some day soon I hope). Maybe I am wrong but this seems like all of this could have been handled more easily. First - games that a bought on hard discs won't need 24 hour check ins and you pay the standard $60 price, but you can trade it freely. Second - games bought as digital downloads need check ins but they will be ten bucks cheaper since you don't have a physical disc. Just a theory though.

Shame On Us: Gamers
So lets not get carried away, because I know we can. It is a new social default to collectively freak the dick out about most things, before knowing exactly what hell is going on. Though as I said before Microsoft kinda did set this up to be a shit-tastrophe. When it comes down to the nuts and bolts, not too much has changed except who is going to take the blame when you can't play your games later on. Since this change will not keep publishers from having their own DRM in games. Which might be worse since you will have to yell at every individual company when they load DRM onto a game rather than Papa XBONE. Thing is gaming is changing rapidly. Soon discs are not going to be a thing, you won't be able to trade it in, and you won't have the freedom to share or lend it (unless through some wibbledy-wobbledy licence business). In certain ways it seemed like Microsoft was playing the long ball. But the reactionaries out there said "Fuck That" and instead kicked them right in the long balls instead of finding out what the whole deal was.
The connectivity thing is lame as I have mentioned already, but it is becoming a bigger and bigger component of future games. TITANFALL has no single player campaign (for which I am every grateful because the last thing most FPS' need is a god damn shitty four hour campaign with a "story" to it), it will be online multi-player only. Which is cool, but definitely going to require connectivity. I am also willing to bet that it is not the only game going in that direction either. To top it off every time I have bought a game in the last year it has required me to download some kind of update in order to play it anyway. This is honestly something that everyone should be damn well use to by now, so stop flipping out. What you need to be doing is encouraging this country to build a damn initiative to get everyone wired up.

Shame On Me
A lot of these issues don't trouble me personally, so it might not be my place to drop knowledge. Hell I rarely fire up my Wii and R2-D2 360. My Laptop is my current gaming console (and when I have the chance, I want to build a gaming and entertainment rig for my apartment) thanks mostly to Steam. Though I am not regretting my move. I hate GameStop and have for years. The idea of trading in games for a pitiful amount of store credit is insane to me. Now I just wait for things I like to go on sale, if I want a better price (as well as variety). Plus more of the money goes to the folk who made the game rather than fucking GameStop. The line between these two pieces of tech are becoming slimmer and I wonder what the significant difference is going to be five years from now. Not too much I assume, though maybe a console with upgrade-able hardware or a system that will just stream games off a server like OnLive.
Personally I like to be rational and at this point it is a little bit too irrational to be care about who won the next console war (neither of these consoles is out yet), since they have hardly even begun. So...
Don't do that. You don't need another paperweight.

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