I’ve remained silent for a few weeks. Waiting and watching the stories unfold, the companies have come out and said their piece. Now that I can make informed decisions and form coherent thoughts, here is my opinion. I’ll start with the Xbox One reveal.
How do you unveil a console? How do you explain to the core audience that this generation, one of the best generations in gaming is over and a new one is on the horizon in 4-6 months? Microsoft failed to explain and detail this to gamers when they unveiled the Xbox One which, is a horrible name by the way. When during their meetings did some guy get the bright idea to name this thing Xbox One? They talked about TV functionality and how great Kinect 2 will be without showing any gameplay and not detailing anything. The only thing they had said was DRM as it pertains to used games, 24 hour check-ins and sharing of games was now up to them/the developers and not us gamers. They took away our power to share. Gamers responded and Microsoft seems to have changed that, which I’ll return to in a minute. The console itself isn’t as bad looking as I thought when I first saw it, though the box isn’t different from many bluray players you see. The controller seems refined, though I’ll leave assumptions until I hold it in my hands. The functionality appears to be neat, though I don’t see myself switching my TV on with it.
Tom Clancy’s The Division impressed many at E3.
Ah, E3 2013, what awesomeness abounds! I really anticipate E3 each year because I love games. Watching Microsoft’s conference I was expecting the message to be. “We’ve changed our minds!”, but all we got was silence on the information front from them. The games they showed looked epic! I was expecting more from Titanfall and though some were impressed I found it to be a sci-fi Call of Duty clone. Ryse looked great and like a lot of fun. Microsoft went straight for the God Of War fanbase with that title. Dead Rising 3 looked epic and super fun to play. I wasn’t impressed by what was shown of Killer Instinct and the attempt at humor was completely inappropriate. Sunset Overdrive looked cartoony and uninspired, not Microsoft’s fault Insomniac just has fallen off since Resistance 3. Halo tease was neat. (Who didn’t see that coming?) Many games we actually saw were also PS4 titles as well, so I can’t say those titles had me super excited for the Xbox One.
The PS4 machine finally revealed.
Sony came out and got the movie and apps part out of the way quickly. We all knew it was coming and they had to talk about the media functionality, movies and what apps were coming to PS4. One tidbit many missed was the event streaming that they are bringing to PS4. I like the ability to stream a UFC match or WWE event to my console on demand. I’m sure Microsoft has something similar in mind. Sony then came out and said here’s our PS3 stuff, talked about Vita very little which is disappointing, then finally it was PS4 time. Wow Sony started talking about the exclusives, showing gameplay from Knack, The Order:1886, Infamous: Second Son, Killzone: Shadowfall and Drive Club. Just when you thought it couldn’t be any more awesome….announced a price many media outlets were saying wouldn’t happen: $399.99. If coming in $100 cheaper wasn’t good enough, they announced no DRM, no lending restrictions and no used game restrictions. Basically they said to gamers, we hear you and we value your opinion. This blows everyone’s mind. I realistically thought they had to have some restriction based on Microsoft’s Xbox One policy.
As far as the game makers conferences, EA and Ubisoft really showed some amazing stuff. Battlefield 4 looked awesome, The Division looked like a game I’ll spend a lot of time playing. Madden Looked new and finally different. Call of Duty: Ghosts was as expected but impressive. Indies were out in show for both, though a stronger showing for Sony. I’m really looking forward to the launches. Here’s hoping EA doesn’t screw us over like Madden 06 again…that game bricked 2 of my launch Xbox 360’s.
My personal opinion on used games will never change, the idea behind it is that if you buy something it’s yours. I have PS1, PS2, PS3 games, Xbox, Xbox 360, PSP, DS, Dreamcast games, Sega CD, Sega Genesis, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Master system, Panasonic 3DO, Atari 2600 games. They all have one thing in common, I can pop them into their respective devices and play their single-player or split-screen experiences to this day. What happens when the things you buy are no longer yours to give? What happens when this upcoming generation dies off? What can we pick up and experience when the console generation has passed and the company shuts down the only way for the console to operate? Hence why the reversal of heart may have started on Microsoft’s part.
Apparently they have reversed all game sharing and borrowing policies, used game fees and such today.
Link to Xbox One news information (http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/update)
What does this mean for gamers? I’m not exactly sure yet. How this late into the launch can they change all this? Don’t they have developers under contract with these rules in effect as part of them? The answer is yes they can and have for now. You can change things like this with simple firmware update! This is what day one you’ll have to update to in order to play offline without a check in. Wow that took a ton of thought right? The plan as I see it was to come out with Xbox One with these new policies and gauge consumer reaction. They got a resounding ASCII middle finger (literally on their blog and forums) and many gamers have already jumped ship. Apparently 95% to 5% PS4 to Xbox One preorder preference was the punch to the gut they needed to wake them from their slumber:
- An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
- Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.
- In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console — there will be no regional restrictions.
I hope Microsoft has heeded the warning gamers have given: We buy new products that warrant the purchase new. We buy used because it’s how we find games we didn’t consider at a higher price point. Firmware can change at any time, so Xbox fans best not get too comfortable. Gamestop has said 70% of game purchases are new games. What drives that? The trading of used games. In today’s economy $59.99 is still a tank of gas, a meal at a nice restaurant, or a movie with your kids. So do I buy a game with a new coat of graphics paint that was the same as the last iteration I bought (I’m looking at you Call of Duty!) or take my kid to see the new Man of Steel movie? Don Mattrick clearly makes enough money that these decisions don’t affect him as they do the core, which his arrogance enraged many I spoke to about this subject.
If Microsoft want to compete with Sony this next generation/PS4-Xbox One, they need a gamer at stage front like Sony put Mark Cerny, PS4’s system architect. Get back in touch with the core audience who made the original Xbox and Xbox 360 so popular. Get someone passionate to talk about these games and the console. That will bring you back in the eyes of Xbox fans.
Next generation began with Wii U, though it was more like a whimper at it’s launch. Nintendo is hopefully going to finally get in the ring and compete. Their 1st party gamers are looking good.
Pac man: The original Pimp.
Those are my thoughts! Fell free to comment here, on Facebook or Twitter!