For the last 10 years, the 360 and its predecessor have been mainstays in my living room – they’ve been my gateways into virtual universes, full of aliens, demons, and a whole host of other creatures I’ve slayed. Many of my fondest gaming accomplishments have come in front of a Microsoft gaming console – shout out to Rock Band’s Endless Setlist – and many an hour lost to them. Retry after retry on Ninja Gaiden, co-op treks through Gears of War, Dynasty mode in NCAA…shit, I still remember how my dad gave my brother and I our original Xbox – he hid pieces of it in our beds for us to find later.
In short, gaming has been a profoundly influential part of my life, and there’s never been a real reason for me to be unhappy with Microsoft, even though my friends have enjoyed more attractive exclusives with Sony. [This is an opinion that I still hold, even as someone who has had his Xbox RROD. I’m a loyal consumer, to say the least.]
Sure, I’ve gotten older and had less and less time to veg out on my couch with a controller, but I still planned to upgrade to the next generation of consoles this winter. I love gaming too much not to.
What I’m buying is still up in the air, but I can tell you this – it definitely won’t be an Xbox One. The red flags have been going up for a few weeks now, starting with that thoroughly unimpressive initial premiere, which spent more time talking about useless features than actual games. Horrendously marketed name that forgets that there’s already an Xbox One? Not off to a good start. A good chunk spent advertising the new, improved Kinect? Um…okay. Voice control? Multi-tasking? Yeah, not good.
That’s not what turned me off buying an X1, though. The real problems – the problems that have lost them a ten year customer and have made them the target of massive internet backlash now – come from how they’re treating used games and requiring a constant internet connection just to play the ones you own.
Granted, Microsoft has a right to recognize used games as a lost revenue stream, and they have every right to try to capitalize on it. They’re a company, with shareholders that they are responsible to. But, what is often forgotten in that is that they have customers to make happy as well, and there is no universe in which restricting used games sales can be a good idea. There’s a reason why few companies have ever tried to do so, and the last one who did – EA – won The Consumerist’s Worst Company in America award as part of those efforts.
Okay, maybe the technology in the last decade wasn’t conducive to that type of digital rights management, and that’s something we’re capable of now. I don’t know, I’m not an expert on that kind of thing. Whatever the reason, it’s just bad principle to implement now, and far, far more trouble than it’s worth, essentially angering your fans for the pursuit of a few more bucks. Why the fuck can’t I trade and share my games after I bought them? Sure, I might be able to afford paying to install a borrowed game, it just feels more like a money grab, rather than for any actual point. None of this is sitting well with gamers, who have always believed that they own their material, post purchase. Steam has a far superior and un-intrusive sort of DRM, allowing for log-in and installation across different computers, even though we do not physically own our games. [I could be wrong, but you can also install the games themselves onto your computer.]
And the always on requirement?! Man, I live in a major metropolitan area and still can’t get consistent internet access sometimes. The gall of assuming that everyone has a broadband connection in this country, and requiring one in order to play something we have already purchased is downright ignorant at worst, and extremely short-sighted at best.
I haven’t even started on the fact that the Halo series is the only really appealing exclusive remaining on Microsoft consoles to me, either. E3 is next week, and they may be able to change this last point with a strong showing. It won’t matter. For myself, and many like-minded gamers, the always on requirement and used games debacle have shown us that Microsoft isn’t really about the gamers anymore.
But maybe that’s why they named it the Xbox One – because they went 359 degrees backwards.