The year 2013 has been monumental to gamers around the world. This year we have been lucky enough to be a part of the announcement’s for the next generation of gaming consoles. On top of that we got to experience what the next generation has in store for us as far as games go at E3. Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 have been turning heads all over the internet, in both good and bad ways. I must say this year the console wars have grown exponentially, separating gamers and causing some hateful words to be thrown around. People are picking sides now more than ever, whereas in the past many people (including myself) preferred to stay in the middle enjoying both big time consoles equally. This great divide has caused a lot of uproar, in this post I plan on describing that uproar from my point of view as well as share my thoughts on each console/company.
Microsoft: Xbox One
Alright, let’s clear the air here once and for all: I do not hate the Xbox One. I don’t even hate Microsoft. Hate is a very strong word, I choose to use ‘dislike’ or ‘disagree with’ more often. For years now I have found Microsoft (commonly referred to as M$) to be a greedy, bloodthirsty company for various reason, most of which stem from the Xbox Live service. For 5 years now I have been paying $60/year for an Xbox Live Gold membership, and what do I get out of that $60? The ability to play games online and talk to my friends. Oh, I can also watch Netflix and experience other apps too. Really? It’s kind of a rip off. I mean, I’m already paying a monthly fee for Netflix, why should I pay a yearly fee just to watch it? This is one of the main reasons I dislike Microsoft and their console service tactics. Until recently players got nothing in return for their subscription to Gold, it basically just unlocks the ability to use the internet, which I also pay a monthly fee for. See where I am going with this? Luckily enough, Microsoft will soon be offering up two free games a month to Gold member. For me though, it’s too little too late.
Gold subscription aside, the company as a whole is out for top dollar rather than to make the consumer truly happy. When the Xbox One was first announced it was advertised as more of an addition to cable/DVR than as a gaming platform, which may be cool if you watch TV but since I don’t I’m out of luck. They said they would show the games at E3 though, and that made sense, so I sat in wait of game announcements for the Xbox One. Shortly before E3 Microsoft released some of the consoles features to the public including a mandatory connection to the internet every 24-hours for a “check in” to play games, an always on Kinect, and massive used game/DRM restrictions. These were a huge turn off for a ton of people and caused fans some fans to freak out while others (like myself) were simply disappointed.
Let me break it down, as far as my thoughts go:
- Online check-in? Stupid. Sure, I am always connected to the internet already, so it wouldn’t really be an issue for me, but it’s the principle of the thing that bothers me. Why do I need to be checked in on via the internet to play my games? What if my internet goes out (which is does often since I have Charter) and I can’t play games? It’s a lot of ‘what if’s’ but honestly, I think it was a bad idea to begin with.
- Always on Kinect? Great, now I have to actually worry about changing in my room because of that thing. And let’s talk about the elephant in the room: what if the Kinect system gets hacked? Now possibly the world will get to watch me undress… Awkward. Regardless, I already don’t want a Kinect for the 360 so having it be mandatory for the console is not cool. Also a bad idea.
- Used game/DRM restrictions? I have nothing wrong with DRM and restrictions, but come on. We have to be on each other’s friends list for 30 days before I can share a game with a friend? That is some serious BS. I only buy new, I never buy used, and I feel like if I buy a new game and go out of my way to pay full price and give my money to the company making the game then I should be able to share said game with my friends. End of story. Yet another bad idea.
Just recently Microsoft announced that they are doing away with those online check-ins and the used game hoopla. I cannot fault them for listening to their consumers and making choices that benefit us, the gamer, but I must say that I find it odd. For over a month Microsoft stood by their policies saying that these things are what the console is built around and that this is the way of the future. Pretty much everything short of “get over it” was said in defense of their original policies and now they are saying “We’re sorry!” and I just don’t buy it. Maybe I’m too skeptical, but I just have this feeling that this flip-flop was only done for the short-term to please consumers. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if in a year or so Microsoft implemented these things back into the Xbox One. For me, it’s honestly one of two things (or both, I guess):
- Microsoft is really changing themselves and trying to benefit the consumer. This prospect is neat and all, but think of it realistically – it’s pretty much a political flip-flop. If this is the case then they lied when they said they were backing their original policies 100%. If they are so willing to drop these core values for profit then what does that say of them? I saw this analogy used and thought it was clever: If someone walked up to you and punched you in the face then saw your pained reaction and said sorry, would you forgive them?
- They are playing us all. Microsoft is dropping their odd policies for the time being in order to make people happy enough to buy the Xbox One with plans of re-implementing them later on down the line. Think of it this way: why not? In time, people will already have the console and will have already spent the money, so why not just put these policies back in place? Who would it hurt? Not them, really. They will have already made the money. It’s just a theory, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the case.
Either way, I am still disappointed. Maybe one day in the future I will pick up an Xbox One, but not after a good period of time. It’s obvious that Microsoft still needs to sort themselves out as they are a mess right now. For now I will still refuse to give my money to such a greedy company. It’s the same reason why I don’t buy games I don’t agree with or used games: we vote with our dollars and if I don’t agree with a console or company then they will not be getting my hard-earned money. To be honest the Xbox One exclusive games announced at E3 didn’t blow me away, either. One or two of them looked interesting, but nothing I can’t live without. We will see what comes of this debacle in time, but as for now I am staying away from Microsoft and the Xbox One.
Sony: PlayStation 4
I have a lot less to say about the PlayStation 4, simply because I say more when I dislike something than when I like something. I like Sony’s approach to the whole next generation situation. It’s professional and appeasing to the consumers. They have stated that they want the PlayStation 4 (or PS4) to be focused on the players and the developers. That the console is meant for gaming first and apps/TV second, if at all. Basically that we the gamers are more important to them than mindless zombies forced into buying something to give them a fat paycheck. It may be just be good PR in some people’s opinion but regardless I am happy with it. I appreciate that I am being considered first and that developers will have more freedoms with this console, which benefits everyone in the long run. One of the most impressive pieces was actually the focus on indie game development on this console. Indie games are very important to the industry and I love playing them, so I think that it’s pretty neat to have more of them on console, namely on the PS4.
The PS4 will require a paid subscription for online play, unlike the PlayStation 3, but gamers can also play single player games offline. A constant connection to the internet is not required to play games. The paid subscription will remain PlayStation Plus (PS+), as has already been implemented on the PlayStation 3. This service, in my opinion, is the best out there. PS+ members get free games, massive discounts, early access to betas/demos, automatic updates, and much more. It’s totally worth the $60 yearly fee and to prove that point I have an example: Awhile back they put the Sleeping Dogs game bundle up for free for PS+ members – A $50 value. Then, a few weeks later, they put Deus Ex: Human Revolution up for free to members which was a $20 value, so just two games in the span of about a month paid for my subscription and then some. Every week there are new discounts and games too, so there is a lot of variety and chanced to get in on the deals.
Sony said from the start that they themselves will not implement DRM restrictions to their consumers and that DRM was up to the game publishers. This is how it should be. If a publisher wishes to have DRM restrictions on games (like online passes and whatnot) then that’s up to them. No company should make that choice for them or for us. It’s really the only fair way to go about the DRM issue. I mean publishers have the right to DRM (obviously, it’s their game) and we have the right to choose not to buy the game if the restriction is too much for us. Sony just allows the platform to be used for games, all the other nonsense is left to the publishers. It’s simple, it’s fair, and it makes sense. Like I said before, I am not against DRM at all unless it directly hinders the game or my wallet. End of story.
All in all, I plan on going all in with the PS4 when it comes to the next generation. I already have my launch edition console pre-ordered and I’m ready to go. My gaming focus for next generation will be on the PS4 and the PC, maybe with a side of Wii U. I appreciate Sony’s marketing strategy and the price of their console ($4o0) and plan on reestablishing my roots in Sony consoles. It’s refreshing to see such a positive approach to gaming.
Nintendo: Wii U
Oh, Wii U. What can I say? Every since the Wii was released, I have somewhat despised Nintendo. I mentioned it before in another post, but basically Nintendo broke my heart. They shifted away from fun, creative games to focus on motion control gimmicks and rehashed Mario games, released annually. I loved the NES and the SNES, and I still have my N64, but I just feel like Nintendo isn’t even trying anymore. I’ve recently had a change of heart though and have considered getting a Wii U at some point down the road. I can’t deny that a part of me has always wanted a Wii/Wii U because that is the only place to play the Legend of Zelda series, which my blog is so aptly named for.
I don’t really know what sparked this change of heart, but I’m rolling with it. Nintendo may still disappoint me most of the time, but if they can impress me some of the time I will be happy. The console is pretty cheap now, anyway, so it’s not a huge expense to enjoy a few fun games.
Well, that’s a wrap. Thanks for reading though my thoughts and opinions! I really hope this cleared up some of the bad air surrounding comment’s I have made verbally, through my blog, or on Twitter. If not, well then read it again. There have been some misunderstandings and condescending comments made, so I just want everyone to truly understand where I am coming from. Thanks again and I hope you enjoyed reading this, see you next time!