Monday, 17 June 2013

Rant - Why are people being such dicks to the Xbox One?

There's no doubt that Sony have probably won this generation's next-gen console wars as Microsoft have made so many changes and leaps forward that people have been completely turned off by the idea of owning an Xbox One. That and the PS4 is cheaper.
So why am I so annoyed by the fact people are treating the Xbox like a mutant outcast instead of the revolutionary bit of kit that Microsoft have aimed for?

The first big blow Microsoft felt was the whole "No more used games" debacle. This was initially blown completely out of context by the gaming community, who claimed that no used game would ever work on the Xbox One. This however turned out to not be the case but the usage of a used game was still very limited, in that you had to obtain prior permission from the publisher via a new activation code.

But this isn't much different from what we have already in place with PC games. Serial Keys have been around for ages now, but you never hear the PC crowd whining (much). At least with the Xbox One you have a chance of buying/selling a used game, even if it is highly retricted.

On a similar note, people are also up in arms about the whole DRM issue. Again, to use PC gamers as an example, how is this any different from Steam or other online retailers. In fact, Microsoft has basically created it's own Steam store, where you'll be able to have access to a digital copy of your game whether you bought the physical copy or not. This is great news if the disc gets damaged. What's more is that you can access that copy anywhere, including all saved files.

I think console gamers have been too used to getting pampered and Microsoft have opted to push them out into the real world, where life isn't always fun and dandy. Why do people want used games? Because they are cheaper than new releases. But are they? Used games are around the same price as a new copy during the initial release period anyway. If you really want to buy it on the cheap, just wait a few months and it will be 50% of its current price.

One of the reasons why games are so expensive is due to the lack of protection when it comes to trading and reselling. The games companies have to make their hard earned money back so they can keep releasing great games but it's hard to do when around a third of your profits are lost due to private transactions. So if anything, people should be welcoming this new method of restrictions. I know it feels like a step back but it is actually a step forward. (On a positive note, if this whole DRM thing works, the Xbox One games may end up being cheaper than the PS4.)

But the whole "No backwards compatibility" thing? Yeh, sorry Microsoft, you guys are [expletive deleted] jerks. I'm not paying again for stuff I already own.

The next big issue that put people off is this whole "Always On" case. The Xbox One has to always be connected to an internet connection in order to work. Why? Because it has to check with the Microsoft servers every 24 hours to ensure you aren't running any pirated software.

So again, it's a case of Microsoft trying to be the "good guys" and trying to ensure everyone is not breaking the law. Are they right to do it? Yes, they are? Is this the most efficient way to go about it? Probably not, though I can't personally think of a better alternative.

The biggest problem this poses is for people with restricted internet access, however the Xbox only really needs to check in once a day so all you have to do is connect it to the internet for that one minute it needs to check in and you're good to go.

Again, I bring up the whole digital PC platform (aren't PC gamers so sophisticated...) where they always need to be connected to the internet to play their games and again, they hardly ever complain about it.

Sure there are times when your internet may be down, but get a life people. One small 48hr break from the latest Elder Scrolls game is not going to kill you. Read a book, go for a walk, have a life! Sure it's a mild inconvenience, bearing in mind you also coughed up £420 for the console and probably £50 for the game, but just think that the game will feel that much more awesome thanks to you anticipation of getting back into it.

And now we come to the elephant in the room...the cost. Yes, the Xbox One is a whole £80 more expensive than the PS4. It's pretty much got the exact same innards as the Sony behemoth so why the price difference? I'm guessing it's the Kinect.

The current Kinect model retails at around that price so this would make sense however not many Xbox gamers like the idea of the Kinect and hence are not happy that Microsoft have made the Xbox One unusable without one. I bought one myself and while I have never really used it, I never thought to myself "God what a waste of money". I still use it from time to time, either voice commands or Kinect Sports, but it still feels like a part of my console and I'm all the happier for it.

Let's not forget why the Kinect was so great in the first place. Remember when the Playstation Move was announced and people realised that Sony had nothing innovative up their sleeves? Well along came Microsoft and showed people how motion control really could be awesome. Sure it was clunky but their decision to open source the material has made the Kinect a complete game changer in many professional applications. The biggest example is for surgeons who can use the Kinect to control a virtual model of their patient without the need to spend time disinfecting their hands to use a computer.

The new Kinect looks to be even more awesome, with features that probably will never be used in games to begin with. Is it worth paying an extra £80 for at day one? Probably, but Microsoft need to explain why (other than the console won't work without it).

Oh and this whole "The Kinect is always watching you" malarchy...nonsense. Just throw a towel over the damn thing.

So, away with the negative and in with the positive.

Cloud Gaming - Yes this requires Microsoft to ensure their servers are always running, but they have already teased as the unlimited possibilities regarding the game engines being able to handle extreme computational tasks to provide the best possible experience.

Home Cinema Unit - Currently only really available to US buyers, Microsoft are still looking to conquer the living-room but they seem to be heading in the right direction. The ability to seamlessly switch from Live TV to game to film is a big plus as well as their augmented viewing capabilities.

Xbox Live - No more subscriptions per person. One subscription is enough to cover the entire family on the one console. Great for families who have more than one kid.

Play your game anywhere - Going to a friends house? They don't have your favourite game? No worries, just sign in and you can both take advantage of your digital copy of the game. They may not be able to play it once you leave but that's not your problem.

(Supposedly) No Ads - The current Xbox dashboard annoys me to hell as ever now and then I accidentally highlight the LoveFilm ad which causes some inane movie trailer to blast out of my speakers. Apparently the new dashboard will show you only what you want to see, no ads in sight. Or at least they said 'No ads on the home screen'.

The Games - The PS3 had only two exclusive-only developers that I bought the console for; Naughty Dog (the excellent Uncharted series and the amazing The Last of Us) and Quantic Dream (Heavy Rain and the upcoming highly anticipated Beyond: Two Souls). Other than that? Sorry, Xbox had the much better choice of exclusive games. Halo, Gears, Lost Odyssey (remember that one?), Overlord (initially), Mass Effect (initially), Crackdown etc. The Xbox One promises further hours of pure entertainment with Quantum Break, Dead Rising 3 (surprisingly Xbox exclusive), Forza, Ryse and more Halo. PS4 only really has the new inFamous game (of which the first two were pretty good) and the new Jonathan "Braid" Blow indie game, The Witness.

The Controller - Have you seen the damn thing? The PS4 one feels like a pale imitation of the features of the 360 controller with added Wii functions and a share button. The Xbox One controller looks like a gaming controller.

Achievements - This is a 'meh' feature for me but I know lots of people who swear to unlock all possible achievements, and from what has been demonstrated they will be completely amazed by the improved system which evolves dynamically to display who you are as gamer not just what you can accomplish.

At the end of the day, Sony played it safe by offering gamers a console that had nothing really new other than improved graphics and an insta-share function (yay!?!). Microsoft on the other hand took a big (arguably arrogant) leap forward and said "This is the future" and people were scared, scared because the future was not how they pictured it.

The Xbox One has removed a lot of the freedom original consoles had, features that pretty much defined them, but at the same time it is paving the way for a whole new method of gaming in general and these should be the facts people concentrate on, not the fact they can't trade their unwanted games anymore.

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