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Chrys avatar 4:18 AM on 06.20.2013  (server time)
The Console War That Almost Was

Yesterday Microsoft attempted to throw the negativity train into full reverse by removing most of the Xbox One’s required online features and used game barriers. How well that change of direction will resonate with consumers is still yet to be seen, but early reports lean toward “oh thank god!” While I tend to agree with that sentiment, I can’t help but feel disappointed.

With the Xbox One shedding its anti-consumer skin, the Playstation 4 suddenly looks less like the obvious choice and more like the safer choice. This turn of events means that while the next console generation will see a lot of new features, many things will remain the same. Microsoft did themselves a big favor by unshackling used games, and foregoing an online requirement, but personally, I wanted to see the next generation play out just as it was.

I’m reminded of the time before the 3DS and PS Vita’s launch, when both handhelds were priced at $250. Both systems had equally compelling launch lineups, but completely different strengths. Nintendo was marketing the 3DS on its glasses-free 3D technology, and Sony went with the “console experience on a handheld” angle for the Vita. By all accounts, it looked like Sony had a fighting chance against the only king of dedicated gaming handhelds. Then the 3DS launched, struggled, trimmed a few Jackson’s off the asking price, and suddenly the Vita looked comparatively expensive at $250.

Where this history lesson brings me is that for a brief moment, it seemed as though something different was going to happen in the dedicated handheld space. Change was in the air and I was ready to breathe it all in. Then, the 3DS dropped to $170 before the Vita could launch and suddenly I’m gasping for air, realizing this is just a rerun of the DS vs. PSP.

Pictured: All the Difference

So when the Xbox One was revealed with features completely radical and ambitious (as anti-consumer as they were), I see an opportunity for change. Yesterday however, Microsoft quashed my dream of a console generation completely different from the current one. Instead it seems I’m stuck watching reruns again.

By the end of E3, the majority of the gaming community had already sworn off Microsoft, and was eyeing f*cking Sony from across the room. But for every person reading a gaming blog or tweeting about E3, there were hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who were introduced to the next generation of consoles by Jimmy Fallon. They are the mainstream, and boy are they fickle.  

On one hand, a representation of general gaming consensus; on the other, a representation of how small our demographic is.

Had Microsoft stayed the course and released an always-connected Xbox One, correctly marketing the console to the mainstream would have undoubtedly been top priority.
If Microsoft pulled it off, we would have been in store for the most unique generation in quite some time. All of the big three console manufacturers would be offering vastly different experiences across their platforms, at different price points, all with different online strategies. Exciting times.
Conversely, if Microsoft released the Xbox One to a world strangely immune to “All in One” mania, it would have served as a definitive message that there is no market for a console built around these policies.

Of course, this console war has yet to officially begin, and there are a great many things that could change before both the PS4 and the Xbox One are released this holiday.
Hopefully Microsoft and Sony haven't shown their entire hand just yet. As any console war veteran will tell you, a few years into a generation, nothing is ever the same as it was at launch.

Do you think the next generation of consoles will be more of the same or do you think its gonna get all Bob Dylan-y around here? I'd like to know!

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