Okay, first, a bit of reference material.
Now, when Microsoft announced that there would be no backwards compatibility on the XBOX One from purchases made on the XBLA Marketplace or 360 media, my heart sank. It literally sank. I felt soul-crushing sadness like the bottom of the deepest ocean trench.
And I have a very good reason why.
I have owned my particular account since 9/17/2007, through one name change from BucNastyTimeH8r to Everyday Legend. I have purchased many, many pieces of DLC for games, and even more (far, far more) digital titles such as Castle Crashers, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, etc. Thankfully, Microsoft has seen fit to unburden me from worrying about whether or not I can take t with me when I transcend the physical plane of the XB360 and rise into the cloud-based XB One.
The problem with their "favor" that they're doing us is this - I loved their downloadable service, and loved XBLA games more than I did disc-based titles. I had a blast with the games I purchased, and was looking forward to Microsoft being the only company who was forward-thinking enough to understand that locking those purchases away on a past console would be a stupid, stupid move. I thought they were better than blocking used games and their ilk by asking for people to pay for a license code when you borrow a disc from a friend.
I was wrong. I was so very wrong.
And now, I have to ask myself a very simple set of questions.
1.) Does this machine really serve me, the customer?
2.) Does this machine really have my best interests at heart?
3.) Knowing what I know now, can I support this kind of thinking?
4.) If I don't support it, will I feel like I am missing out on something important?
5.) As a customer, can I expect the same sort of treatment in the future?
I feel like this is No Country For Old Men, or something along those lines. I feel horribly out of place in the changing landscape of digital entertainment, and I feel like none of these consoles really have me in mind. If they did, their business practices would reflect this, but since they don't, their flowery speeches ring hollow against my ears. All of this "the customer wants this, the gamer wants this, the family wants this, and this is how we're going to give it to you" from the company who did the most right at the start of this last gen...by just making it about the games.
I don't watch TV. I watch Netflix, or Hulu, or YouTube. But I do not watch TV. I don't even have cable television service, because I spend my money on internet access instead. So, I can't get the enjoyment of television from it. I'm also not a sports fan. I could give two fucks less about fantasy-anything-league. So, I get nothing out of this, either. I can see it serving some sort of customer, but I am evidently not it. I purchased an XBOX for the games. I purchased an XBOX 360 for the games. I cannot say for sure if I will purchase an XBOX One, because I didn't see the games that would excite me, and I evidently cannot borrow a friends game to see if I like it before buying it, and I evidently cannot bring all of my digital storefront purchases with me.
There will be much, much more on that final sentence later on.
There is a problem with every videogame console manufacturer today - they tend to tell you what the machine will do and why you will like it, instead of actually listening to what the customerbase wants from their devices. I get the need to ape Apple, as they are the 800lb. gorilla in the room as far as market share and device penetration goes, but they'll never eclipse them as an usurper to the throne if they don't start thinking about ways to beat Apple at their own game. Milhouse isn't, was never and will never be as cool as Bart. So why try to do things that don't involve playing games? Why go full-cloud? If I can give a Blu-Ray movie to a friend, why must that same friend pay to play a game I purchased? That isn't making you cooler than Apple, that's making you look just like them, only lamer and more restricted, if that's even possible.
Now that I know what they're actually up to, with blocking used game sales in a very roundabout way, and pushing content to the cloud instead of physical media, and not coming right out and saying whether always-on DRM was a real thing (or still is a real thing), and most of all, not transferring purchases from previous console account activity...I don't think I can support this system. It does nothing for me that the current system doesn't already do, except for features that don't have a goddamn thing to do with me. I also can't believe that they can't emulate the 360 in order to at least download and play XBLA titles. If you've got five billion transistors, and 8GB onboard RAM, and it's powerful enough to run three concurrent and symbiotic OSs...then that tells me that this isn't an unfortunate casualty, this is full-on murder covered up to be an "accident." I can't support that, especially since I spent lots, lots, LOTS of money on your digital storefront. I paid my dues to XBOX Live for ten years (I waited two years to get a brand new 360 Elite because I thought that 20GB of HDD space was criminal, kept on fighting the good fight on the original XB in that span of time), and got nothing but advertisements for burger places I don't even go to because their food is engineered to fucking kill you, sports I don't even watch because they fucking bore me, movies I have no interest in fucking seeing, and music that fucking sucks. And this is how you want to make a new start, with a new console. How's about NO, Microsoft? NO.
I am a huge Halo fan. I got into the XBOX product line because of that very franchise (that and Panzer Dragoon Orta and Jet Set Radio Future, but that's another story). I have read every novel. I have read every comic. I have watched every single video on Waypoint. I own Forward Unto Dawn. I own every Halo game in Legendary / Limited Edition. So, naturally, I feel like I will miss out on the new series if they are only going to offer it through XB One. And I will be very upset about this. But, then again, if I spend all that money on Limited / Legendary Editions and can't play the fucking games on the new system without buying them all over again when they inevitably re-sell them as a cloud-based purchase, then you have only succeeded in dangling a carrot in front of what I can plainly see to be an abattoir. You weren't even smart enough to turn my head to the side and shove me, you just showed me the carrot, and showed me the blades, and told me that this was where the fucking happy place was. And I just can't wrap my head around whether Microsoft leadership is that brazen or that stupid. Hanlon's Razor seems about as appropriate as anything else to apply here, because I honestly think that they must be just that fucking dumb to believe that I will fall in line and follow. And I believe that a lot of honest, dyed-in-the-wool videogame players feel the very same way, and will likely abandon the system before it's even released.
I will most likely be among you.
Now, to the best bit: online purchases. So, Microsoft - you're trying to beat Apple, are you? Well, here's the thing - I downloaded programs on my iPad, I downloaded music on my iPad, and I also have games, videos, you name it. All purchased from the App Store / Music Store / etc. And you know what's hilarious? I can transfer those purchases from an older device to a new one, and the games still play, no problem. I can transfer some of them to older devices, and they'll play too, especially music and movies. I don't have to pay twice, I just have to sync my other device and download it to the one I want. Apple respects the fact that I spend large amounts of money in their App Store, and in order to keep the customer feeling like they can continue to spend money without fear of losing access to things they spent their money on, they allow you to take it with you. A novel concept, I know. I can even play iPod Touch / iPhone-only apps on my iPad, due to the magic of software engineering. It's evidently not that tough, or at least, only as tough as you make it out to be and whether or not you think your customerbase's continued support is worth it.
You see, I love XBLA. I spent lots of money in that store. Far more than I did on PS3, Steam and Wii COMBINED. Over the past six years, I have purchased just shy of a thousand dollars of content from you. I can transfer that content to a new box with a new serial number, I just need to transfer the licenses. It all ties to my account, and Microsoft was the first company to really get that right in the console space. But now, you want me to move forward, and tell me that I fucking wasted a thousand dollars, since I cannot take it with me. Backwards compatibility used to be a selling point, now, it's all about repacking old games as "HD-Remasters" for another purchase, or "Cloud-based purchases" for yet another attempt at resale with no physical ownership ever taking place, and thrice the money made.
So, in effect, you have branded my system not as the XBOX One, but as the new, improved, supercharged and powerful XBOX Fuck YOU Loyal Customer.
This alone has sealed this system's fate for me. I can buy a thousand dollars worth of apps and games on Apple's App Store, and I might only be able to take 80% with me at first, but updates do happen, and I might be able to get 95% of my apps on iOS 7's eventual release, and all my music, and all my videos, and everything else. Android market works almost the exact same way. Hell, I can save the .apk and install it everywhere I want to unless it tries to authenticate via DRM, then at that point, it probably cost a pretty penny to begin with. But if I download it to a new device on my Google account, it's all mine all over again. Even if I can't use it, I can still see it, and leave a request for the devs to make it compatible.
But Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, in an effort to beat Apple and their spreading influence, have done the one thing that sets these platforms apart - they've said that you can't take it with you, and that the money you spent before with them doesn't mean a damn thing once they take the systems offline later on, and you'll never be able to make sure that old console lasts forever, so eventually, you will have bought a brick with no recourse but to buy it all over again. This unified move made by the industry speaks volumes, and shows just how much that they do not understand. They are trying to shoot their most loyal supporters in the face in exchange for a new batch of rubes called "early adopters." I will not be so stupid to trust them again.
In the meantime, I believe I will enjoy using my Android phone, my lovely iPad, and finishing building this brand new beast machine computer running pirated Windows 7 and Linux as a dual-boot. Microsoft deserves no more of my money if this is the way I am to be treated. This isn't entitlement. This is simply poor customer service from the highest levels down, and if you believe differently, then I wish you good luck in your future endeavors. It is plain to me that there is no place for the traditional hardcore gamer anymore, and as such, the companies charged with keeping the industry alive will continue doing a great job at performing heart surgery on itself...surgery that will eventually prove fatal to all who play.
If you've been wondering about buying a PC, it seems that now is better than ever.
And I never though I'd say this, but I recommend a tablet that isn't a Surface.