After a horrible unveiling event and an even more lackluster E3 showing, Microsoft has just about killed any momentum that they earned in the next generation console war garnered by the success of the Xbox 360. Here are the top five reasons why I believe Microsoft has essentially strapped a bomb to their foot as opposed to just shooting it like most other pretentious companies.
5. Shift in Philosophy
Microsoft, being the money-hungry, savage corporation that it is, can smell the way the wind is blowing when it comes to the different ways that people are beginning to consume television programming. DVR usage is up, live show watching viewership numbers are down, and an ever growing number of people are cutting their cable cords altogether in favor of the Netflixes and Hulus of the world.
With the Xbox One, Microsoft seeks to position itself as the all-inclusive set top box that will bring together all of your digital media with the nifty ability to switch between each simply by the sound of your voice. Cool trick. Here’s the thing, though: you could essentially purchase an Apple TV, Roku, TiVo, and a Blu-ray player combined for less than the cost of one Xbox One system. Microsoft seemingly setting its sights first on the TV-watching community over the gaming community is a probably a bad idea when trying to sell a video game console designed for gamers…right?
4. Many of Microsoft’s Exclusive Titles Kinda Suck Now
In the Xbox 360 vs. PS3 current console generation, Microsoft initially had a huge upper hand in regards to having exclusive big-name titles that you could not play on another platform. Franchises such as Halo or Gears of War are just two examples of marquee experiences that you could only find on Xbox six years ago. Back then, when I looked across the battlefield to my PS3-owning brethren who were stuck playing Killzone or some other generic shooter knockoff, I felt as though I bet on the right horse in acquiring my Xbox 360.
While that may have been true six years ago, Halo and Gears of War have become cash-grabbing iterations of their former selves that are being redesigned, repackaged, and resold by developers who have no prior ties to either series. To make matters worse for Microsoft, Sony has created a plethora of exclusive titles late in the PS3’s lifecycle that has made even the most loyal Xbox fanboys start to question whether their loyalty has been rewarded. Does anyone over 13 years of age really want Halo 5 at this point?
3. DRM/Used Gaming Fees
I’m probably in the minority here, but I do believe that piracy and the bootlegging of games is detrimental to the gaming community overall. I mean, developers gotta eat too, right? Microsoft must believe the same because they have already imposed Draconian law on your shiny, brand new Xbox One.
Want to play a video game that you purchased? No problem, just make sure that you have your internet connection available so that Microsoft can tell your system that it is alright to let you play your game. But what happens if your internet connection is unavailable, you ask? Well, your Xbox One also becomes unavailable after 24 hours without a connection. Gamers who plan to relocate might want to put in that call to their new location’s internet service provider early.
After being assaulted with online hate mail, Microsoft has responded that gamers who want a system that doesn’t require an internet connection should “buy an Xbox 360.” Oh, and one more thing for you savvy used game shoppers: Microsoft fully supports your right to buy used games, but you will be charged a currently undisclosed “used game fee” to play it. God, I cannot wait to buy one of these.
2. “No New Friends, No New Friends, No, No New…”
Say you purchase a game, beat it, and want to lend it to a friend. Fair enough right? Wrong again my friends. Lending games is not yet possible for the Xbox One because each title is assigned specifically to your system the first time you play it. Well what if you want to just give away a game to fellow gamer? For starters, you have to be friends with the person that you’re gifting the game to on Xbox Live for 30 days to let papa Microsoft know that this person is really really really your actual friend. After Microsoft verifies that everything is legit, they will then allow your friend to access the title. And after they’re done with it, that same game cannot be transferred to another human being again, EVER. This is brilliant stuff folks.
And then there was the price announcement. Microsoft revealed that the Xbox One will retail this November in the US for $499, while Sony’s Playstation 4 will launch at $399.
So let me get this straight. With an Xbox One, I can’t freely borrow or lend games, I can’t play a used game without paying Microsoft a used game fee, and I can’t play games that I have purchased without the Xbox One checking in with Microsoft’s servers once every 24 hours to ensure that I’m behaving myself? Hmm, alright…I mean, I have no doubt that the additional $100 of cold hard cash that I’m paying for the system is going to give us loyal Xbox gamers a hardware advantage over the Playstation 4, right? Right?
Wrong. The PS4 has faster memory and a better graphics card for $100 less than an Xbox One.
As a stark supporter of the original Xbox and the Xbox 360, Microsoft has made it seemingly impossible for me to be interested in the Xbox One. In my opinion, the Xbox line has been the one area in the marketplace that Microsoft has consistently gotten it right thus far. Surface tablets are boring, Windows Phone is a niche, Windows is, well…Windows. Everything about the Xbox One just seems to be a gigantic misstep on the company’s part, and I hope it can correct its course at some point between now and launch.
Sony is essentially welcoming me into its loving bosom with the Playstation 4’s perfect price point, superior hardware focused on gaming, lack of DRM, impressive exclusive title lineup, and no used game fees. Don’t call it a comeback — Sony has been here for years.