If you pay any attention to gaming news you probably at least were aware that Microsoft revealed the next console in the XBox lineage yesterday. As I had to work, I didn’t get to watch it live, but I checked my usual gaming sites to see what they’d revealed. Like a lot of gamers, I had a lot of concerns about some of the rumors I’d been hearing about my beloved platform, but I tried to remain cautiously optimistic. It doesn’t take a lot to start a rumor, after all.
I’m sure a lot of you have probably seen the various reactions to the XBox One, but I wanted to weigh in on the matter myself as summarize what I’ve been seeing from others.
Firstly, let’s go over a few of the tidbits revealed about the platform:
- The console itself was presented for the first time, showing the design of the system, the controller & the new Kinect that will come standard with the system. Some people have compared the system to a VCR, which is kinda true, but I’m not that fussed about the look. Aside from being a practical size, the design of a console doesn’t matter much to me.
- Memory that is not detachable, although a portable USB memory will be available
- Blue-ray player & all games will be on Blue-ray
- The system overall is focusing more on being an all-in-one media system, including Smartglass integration. The system will apparently be able to control your TV as well.
- XBox One is not backwards compatible with the 360
- Games will have to be downloaded onto the system & the disc won’t be necessary to use afterwards. Gamers will be able to play the game while it’s downloading.
- Once a game is downloaded it is connected to your profile. If someone else wants to use that game, be it lending it to friend or selling it back, that person will have to pay a fee to access the game.
- While online-always is not a requirement to play games unless the game is designed that way, you will have to be connected the first time you install a game. This seems to relate back to linking the game to your profile.
With those specs out of the way, let’s more on to the more fun part. What seems to be the general consensus about the system so far?
Do any of you remember a post I did a while back about the backlash to some of the new XBox rumors? Well the general reaction now seems to make those reactions look like glowing praise. This makes the focused hatred we saw at the original Mass Effect 3 endings look like nothing. While I’ve read some posts that are neutral about the reveal, most seem to be seething. And I can’t say I’ve seen any positive comments about it either. The joke now is that the only people who were cheering at the conference were the Microsoft employees.
I could take the time to describe the dissatisfaction in-depth, but I think I’ll just show you guys. Here are three different videos from game commentators. The first video is fairly work safe, the other two less so.
I think you can see from those videos what the major beef that everyone, myself included, is having with this console. Microsoft is essentially trying to kill the used game market. No renting, no buying used, no even borrowing the game from a friend. If you haven’t bought the game brand spankin’ new, you have to pay a fee to install the disc. According the Destructoid, each game will come will a unique redeemable code that you have to input upon installing the game, similar to the registration key required for PC games. This code links that particular game to your XBox Live account. “However, once the code is used, the disc essentially becomes a paperweight,” as the article puts it.
For someone who rents games frequently, this one fact alone has virtually killed my interest in the console. Given the current trend in games increasing in price with each new cycle, next-gen games will probably be around $70. At $60 it’s already risky enough on a game you’re not sure about. So what do we do? We rent or borrow before deciding if we want the game. Or we buy used to risk less money on a game we might not like. I honestly have no idea how Gamefly is even going to handle this. It’s also unclear if removing the game from your memory would free up this code for another use.
What makes matters worse is that, from the sounds of it, even if you’re on the same machine but using a different account, you’ll have to pay just the play the game. So if you share a system with someone who has their own account, it sounds like they’ll have to pay to install the same game on the same bloody device! The quote from the article really gets my blood boiling. “They would then have to purchase the right to play that game through Xbox Live.” Purchase the right! When are publishers going to get it through their heads that once I buy their game, it’s mine. I’m not paying for a service or for them to lend me the rights to their idea. I’m buying a product. Once you exchange currency, the product is fully the consumer’s. And so long as I’m not claiming I made the product or making copies to sell for profit, it’s none of their business what I do with it. That’s why Chevy can’t tell me what to do with my car. I could sell it for scrap & they have no say in the matter. Why aren’t games looked at the same way?
I don’t think I need to go into great detail about why this is a horrible business decision. We heard the rumors but some of us were, at the very least, hoping Microsoft had more business-sense than that. To say that only people who buy the game new are allowed to play a game is ludicrous. Especially when your competitors don’t have the feature. While not definitive, Sony basically said that they have the technology to do this but were choosing not to implement it… yet. This sounds like corporate suicide on Microsoft’s part. When you’re the only one who has something that no one wants, you lose.
There’s also the issue with the online aspects of the console. Although not as bad as always-online, it sounds like the console is essentially useless for people without an internet connection to the device because you have to be online to initially install the games. So while a consistent connection isn’t required, a connection is. Also, based on the interviews, it sounds like Microsoft is covertly encouraging developers to make always-online a feature of the games. Given that they’ve already taken these steps in the past, I don’t think we need to be encouraging them.
A couple of people have pointed out the underhandedness of EA’s recent announcement that they were dropping the online pass aspect in light of these developments. Obviously developers were aware of these aspects before now (how else could they start making games for it?). Yet EA tried to play it off as if they were listening to gamers & giving them what they wanted. Now we see otherwise.
I find it telling that Microsoft didn’t bring these aspects up on their own but that they had to be asked by journalists, & even then they were very vague in their answers.
I also have to agree with others commenting that Microsoft seems to be moving away from gaming by trying to make the console an entertainment system. By trying to appeal to a larger, more causal audience, I feel like they’re alienating gamers, who are the ones that are most likely to buy the system in the first place. By going for the entertainment system angle, now they’re having to compete with the Smart TV’s, which probably have better technology anyway.
Overall, I was severely disappointed in the XBox One reveal. I have no interest in an entertainment system. I just want to play games. The online requirement is total crap. But the biggest killer for me is the blocking used games aspect. Even though I don’t buy a huge amount of used games (I usually just wait until the price goes down) I feel like if we allow this to go on, it’ll become the norm. As consumers, we vote with our dollars.
Unless Microsoft really turns this around at E3 & not only provides us with solid information but proves this isn’t as bad as it sounds, I won’t be buying the XBox One. I’ll stick with my PC. The PS4 is starting to look pretty good in comparison. So congratulations Microsoft. You just turned a loyal fan towards your competitors. I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite of what you try to do at a reveal.