Friday, May 31, 2013

Microsoft's XBox One, and Other Grievances

     In case you hadn't heard, Microsoft unveiled their next-gen console to raucous cheers provided by staff interspersed through the crowd gathered at the custom-built tent on their campus.

The media wasn't and isn't cheering, nor are gamers celebrating the XBox One as a leap forward in gaming technology.

Simply put, Microsoft shit the bed with their first-look event. The box itself is another beast of machinery akin to the original XBox, it comes with an upgraded Kinect, and supposedly improved.

The features that were touted throughout the event were media-centric, and if you didn't know any better, you would swear it was an unveiling of a Microsoft branded cable/DVR box with peripheral gaming capabilities.

How do you hold a special event for what you're hoping will be a revolutionary GAMING platform and focus on, how you can watch TV, stream movies, chat on Skype, use motion and voice controls to navigate menus?

Microsoft promises they're investing a shiny billion dollars in next-gen game development, including 15 new exclusive titles.

That's cool. So why did we only see one game? Why did you give so much time to EA Sports during the event?

EA Sports sells big, FIFA and Madden in particular, but aside from gameplay tweaks and shinier graphics, they're not selling points.

The selling points for the XBox One, as far as I can tell, are the media functions and motion/voice control functions, which interact with one another.

It is funny that Microsoft's greatest folly wasn't the lack of attention paid to gaming during their event, but the disregard for the market killing rumors that have been floating around for the last several months.

Adam Orth, Microsoft's one-time creative director, lost his job for tweeting about the always-on feature rumored for the new console. Not just tweeting about it, but doing so in an insulting manner.

An always-on feature means the console requires an internet connection regardless of a game being single or multiplayer. The rumor has yet to be shot down, and subsequent rumors regarding an internet check-in period every 24 hours, have only been downplayed and not entirely eradicated.

I take issue with the possible always-on feature because I don't have an internet connection at home. Granted, I'm in the minority, but there are people with unstable connections as well as no connection at all.

Why should I, someone who plays singleplayer games almost exclusively, be forced to pay for an internet service for the sole purpose of passing 24-hour check-ins for the XBox One?

The other troubling rumor is the one where XBox One kills used games.

It is my understanding that you can install a game on any number of XBox One consoles you want from a single disc. So if I want to buy a game and lend it to a friend or several friends, I can do that.

Here's the kicker...

The game came with a one-time use license that is forever connected to my XBL account, meaning anyone who wishes to play the game installed using the disc I purchased will have to buy their own license.

The question then becomes how much will they have to pay? Will they have to pay the full price of the game? Will they have to pay a large portion of the fee but still less than the full price?

And what happens to places like GameStop? If the discs hold no value unto themselves, how can that business exist? They'd have to deal in selling licenses, which effectively makes them a new game retailer.

It points to Microsoft creating a secondhand market all their own, where they control the prices rather than time and relative interest in titles.

Games now decrease in value over time, naturally. A game released three years ago, if it is an amazing game, may still be $19.99, while a crappy game, like Burger King's Sneak King, will be $0.99.

If Microsoft has their own marketplace, there won't be such drastic price drops years after a release. Since they'd be selling licenses, they'd charge most of the full price of a game.

Arguably the bigger problem in all of this is the function of the XBox One. It is being pushed as a media hub rather than a gaming device.

If you really boil it down, it is really just adding Kinect functionality to your television. Awesome...

Of course, these are just my opinions on the subject, and they're about as informed as anyone else's at this point. Until E3, or the actual release of the console, no one can really be certain if Microsoft is being intentionally dense, or legitimately plans to screw gamers worldwide.

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