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« Interview: Martin Kitts - Former Editor N64 Magazine | Main | Why I Don't Think I'll Be Buying a PS4 »
Tuesday
May282013

Unfounded Rage - analyzing the backlash towards Microsoft and the Xbox One

Well, it's been a week since Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One, and the response to the announcement was, well, less than pleasant. Infuriated gamers took to the internet and whipped up a storm of hatred towards Microsoft, claiming that they had abandoned gamers and that they weren't even making games consoles any more! I watched the same press conference that they all did, and yet I didn't get any of the same fears, so let's see if we can't put a few minds at ease, and hopefully make a few people feel better about this new fangled Xbox.

“Microsoft doesn't care about 'Gamers' any more!”

 

Putting aside the fact that I'm not a huge fan of the term 'gamers' this is something that we can easily address. First it's probably best to ask what the reasoning behind this opinion is. Was it the fact that they spent time showing their new television integration? The mandatory inclusion of the new Kinect? The fact that they barely showed any games? Well consider this: E3 is in 2 weeks.

 

When Sony showed off the PS4, it was in February. E3 was still 4 months away and they had 2 hours to fill. They spent the first half of their meeting going over the specs, features and (sometimes hypothetical) functions of their new console. If it had ended after that first hour, would the internet's reaction have been as hostile? I hope so, for the sake of consistency. Sony had 4 months to wait until their big opportunity to show off at E3 directly versus their competition, and couldn't leave people with nothing, and so they showed off a boring looking Killzone demo; a by-the-numbers platformer in The Knack and a bunch of tech demos, including an extensive and unbearable video of how the Move could be used to sculpt your dreams. I mean sure, Sony showed some games, but that was B-roll stuff at best. The few, brief minutes spent at Microsoft's Xbox reveal made more of an impact on me than anything that was reeled out at Sony's thing, which brings us to Microsoft's Xbox One reveal...

 

Put yourself in Microsoft's shoes: E3, THE place to show off games, is 3 weeks away! Every year people whine when you go into your console's “social network integration” and “extra features” during your E3 press conference, so here's our chance to get all of that out of the way early and leave E3 to be nothing but games announcements! If they talk about their gaming stuff they rob themselves of reveals at E3. We know from what Microsoft has said, that there will be 15 exclusives in the console's first year... That's a LOT of games! We already know of 2 of those: Forza 5 (launch title, bytheway) and Remedy's next game Quantum Break, that leaves 13 games we have no idea about. That's exciting! Surely it makes sense to wait until E3 and give them the benefit of the doubt?

 

Remedy make good games, so why no excitement for Quantum Break?

 

“Kinect sucks! I don't want Kinect! Why are you forcing Kinect on me!”

 

Kinect is a conspiracy theorists dream! A HD camera with a microphone that can recognise you and is always hooked up to the internet? Surely a tool for the government! But in all seriousness, I can't wrap my head around all this Kinect hatred. I suppose it's largely a taste thing, some people just don't want to be moving or saying things, but another, more understandable part of the hatred is probably just how poorly executed the first iteration was. That first Kinect was a bit of a shambles, thanks in no part to how experimental the technology was. Developers made driving games and ill-conceived platformers for the thing and none of them worked at all. The cameras in it were low res and the tech was prone to glitch, it was nothing more than a minor proof of concept. In fairness to Microsoft, this newer Kinect was reacting MUCH better during the press conference and the tech in it is much better. 1080P camera, better quality microphone and wider angle lens so you can be stood closer (better for smaller rooms). A Kinect that works is an exciting prospect, it brings us one step closer to calling the computer like in Star Trek: The Next Generation! Who doesn't want that?!

 

"Computer, locate wife" "Wife is in the kitchen" "Good"

 

“No backwards compatability?!”

 

This is a bit of a non-issue in my books. I still have my Xbox 360 and will have in years to come, it's not a huge deal to get it out every once in a while for a bit of 'retro' gaming, the same way I do with my N64, SNES etc. and let's be honest, there are few things more pleasant than to get out an old console and delve through some of your old games.

 

“Why won't I be able to buy used games or trade my games in?! How dare you?!”

 

This was an example of people over reacting. Just after the press conference, there were conflicting statements all over the place, from people saying 2nd hand games will be fine on the Xbox One while others said you would have to pay to activate them. The internet was not happy about the thought of having to pay twice for buying a used game, so they went into full “Exterminate!” mode, but since then Microsoft's stance on used games has come to light and it's about as consumer friendly as anyone could have hoped for! Basically they'll have a system in place where when you buy a game, that disc is tied to your Xbox Live profile. When trading it in, that disc will be deactivated from your account, free for someone else to buy and register to themselves. Simple! The new service ensures Microsoft and the game's publishers see a cut when a game gets sold 2nd hand, so I'd be shocked if Sony didn't adopt a very similar philosophy. Imagine you're a publisher, and have to choose which platform to fully support, knowing that if you go with the Xbox, you're guaranteed to see money on every 2nd hand game sale instead of the nothing you're used to? You're definitely going to publish on Xbox One. We've been moving towards this kind of system for years now, it shouldn't be a shock to anyone to finally see it being implemented straight into a console infrastructure.

 

Don't worry, your ability to trade-in games is still intact.

 

“I don't want to watch TV, I want a games console!”

 

Well now not only do you get a games console, you also get a responsive TV interface and a built-in DVR! I mean seriously, I don't know about you, but the interface on my TV is sluggish, unreliable and an absolute nightmare to navigate. If I can have a nice, clean, quick interface for all my TV stuff instead of that, I'm gonna use it all the damn time! And honestly, Kinect integration will be a god send. I can't tell you the amount of time I've wanted to change channel but had to spend 2 minutes looking for the pissing remote! If I could just say “Xbox, E4” when New Girl is about to come on then I'm all for it!

 

“It has to connect to the internet once a day! What is this, Nazi Germany?”

 

Well made-up internet person, your exaggerations will do you no good here! This is another thing that we as a culture have been slowly approaching for a few years now. Obviously in the far-flung future everything will be online all the time, this is just Microsoft being one of the first to really give us a nudge towards it, a somewhat forceful nudge, but a nudge nonetheless. What's not been described is what it's doing when it does its daily connection or how its doing it. I think it's more than likely it will do it whilst in sleep/standby mode and 99% of people won't even notice, but if that's too draconian a concept for you, then you probably have bigger problems than what console you're going to buy next, you xenophobic freak, you! Seriously though, is this really that big of a deal? For the majority of people I think it's only a problem in theory, and in practice it won't be any issue at all.

 

“It looks ugly! Like an old VCR player!”

 

This is a taste thing for sure, but I personally really like it. I like how un-fancy it's trying to be. It's just a big black box, with shit loads of vents to keep it nice and cool so it works speedily, quietly and doesn't red ring. There are no frills about it, and I quite like that. In its own way, it's actually quite a daring bit of design, to have it look as nondescript as possible, and I think it'll look quite dashing underneath my TV.

 

It's so slick and clean, I really like it!

 

“I'm not buying one, I'm going to get a PS4 now!”

 

This may be the silliest thing of all the anti-One rhetoric I've seen. Not only do we have very little info to go on about not only the games, but the actual consoles themselves; but also, from those press conferences, the PS4 looks inferior based purely on features. The PS4 allows you to save gameplay videos and send them to friends, as well as integrate with your social networks and allow you to post them to your Facebook wall, but aside from that, there really aren't any new innovations. Sony spent a good quarter of their press conference talking about this feature, do you remember how long Microsoft spent talking about it? Like 4 seconds! The biggest innovation Sony could muster was shrugged off by Microsoft like it was nothing, sandwiched in-between ALL THE OTHER COOL SHIT THEIR CONSOLE CAN DO THAT SONY'S CAN'T. It was pretty apparent in my eyes that feature-wise, Microsoft have absolutely nuked Sony. Almost everything Sony announced, Xbox One will also do... in the background... whilst you're watching the Champion's League final, betting on it in a snap-in window and Skyping with your mate across the world who is also watching it live with you. It's like the Xbox One has a PS4 inside it handling the games stuff, then it also has all this other cool stuff as well if you want to use it. That's my first impression from the 2 press conferences we've already seen. If there's one thing you can take to the bank though, it's that first impressions aren't always correct, and this time 2 weeks from now, I may very well be eating all these typed words, but for now how about we all just agree to stop throwing around baseless hatred, and instead just be excited about the rapidly approaching future of our mutual, beloved hobby. Gaming. These are exciting times, my friends. Very exciting times.

 

 

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