You see it in the movies or on every children's television show in existence. The elderly man who doesn't like growing old and is afraid of being seen as "old fashioned", being under-appreciated and no longer being noticed. So they don the sports cap, dark glasses, comically over-sized hoodie and boxers with love hearts on them riding up his waist as the rim of his pants barely skim his knees. They strut around town saying such well known and popular phrases as "Yo dudes I'm hip with the homies, I wear my cap backwards and I don't give a hoot" and try to fit in with the young'uns. Obviously these means of being forever young are laughed at by the teenagers on screen and the audience. We find the sight of this person attempting to adapt to his/her surroundings painful and embarrassing. This attitude they associate the teenagers with is not only false (no disrespect to those out there who wear this particular attire and talk like stereotypical 90's teens), but by attempting to fit in with everybody instead of a specific group they end up failing to fit in with anyone.
As you can already tell by the title of this piece in combination with that painfully long metaphor, I associate Microsoft with this tale. Obviously I am not the first to feel this way, Microsoft is not exactly the most popular of the console developers in a fair few people's eyes. While I am not suggesting that Microsoft is old, I feel that they are like the media's stereotypical portrayal of the old because they are afraid of being unpopular and are therefore attempting to fit in with the masses. However, because their perception of what being unpopular is and their ideas of fitting in are so very different to what reality dictates, they ultimately fail to win the support of most, if not all, of it's consumers.
By attempting to draw in as many consumers as possible with the notion of referring to it as a "media center" rather than that of a games console and spending money and resources on as many different aspects of the Xbox 360 as possible, no one aspect is fulfilled to it's maximum potential and those that helped to make the original Xbox and it's successor popular are not being treated with enough respect, instead being seen as those that can be quietened and wowed over by a few more sequels and some explosions.
I remember the days of competition between myself and my best friend at the time and our consoles. I owned the Playstation 2 and he the Xbox. Many a lunch hour at school was spent debating the pros and cons of the consoles. To this day, the thing that comes to mind of that era was the commercial slogan "Games are better on Xbox."
Back then, games were seen as the drawing point of the console. They were when the Xbox 360 first released. While the Playstation 3 was being touted as the all around media device, Microsoft weren't afraid to show off what was important to gamers, the games, and say "We know what you really want, and we have it. You want games? We got plenty of them."
The past few years however have proven to be a dramatic role reversal for the two companies. While Microsoft has attempted to broaden it's fanbase by introducing motion control and apps for the console, Sony have been the ones sneakily (and successfully) snatching up those who have grown tired of what many see as Microsoft's abandonment of the "hardcore gamer".
While Microsoft have child and adult actors prancing up on stage encouraging their partner to "collect the stars" and "go deep" Sony have been standing outside the conference halls secretly handing out fliers to those who have left due to motion sickness or the lack of games. These fliers exclaim "We know what you want, and we have it! Games, we now have games! Exclusives! New IPs! 5 years of investing millions of dollars into research and we have concluded that you want games!"
And with this new business strategy Sony have seen good improvements in sales, and so they should. With the news that the Playstation 3 has now outshipped the Xbox 360, even with the Xbox 360 having a one year advantage, there is no denying their newly found respect towards their community has seen positive effects.
Returning to the original Xbox and it's slogan that irritated me as a child, compare that to the successors new slogan on the official site: "Entertainment is More Amazing with Xbox". Not games. Entertainment. It is now very obvious where Microsoft's newfound loyalty is.
With each new E3 going by and with it the usual announcement of Kinect games, Kinect poorly integrated into games without any logical reason than to make the process of healing or commanding a teammate more complicated than it needs to and of course the exclusive first party games starting with a letter from F-G (Fable, Forza, Gears and Halo), you can see why some gamers are getting fed up with Microsoft's stubbornness. Year after year we listen to the broken record excuses of "We provide experiences like Halo and bring you Call of Duty DLC to you first!" which according to them justifies the lack of new IP's and charging for an online service which should be free like it's competition, among other things. Not everybody enjoys Halo and Call of Duty. This should be the only case where appealing to the wider population is necessary, attempting to justify their inability to listen to those that only wish to see them succeed.
I don't wish to be like this to Microsoft. In fact, writing this heavily stylised rant makes me feel sad. I have owned an Xbox 360 for six years ago and have loved almost every moment with it. But the past two years have been sadly lacking in terms of my time with the machine. I live in Christchurch, New Zealand, and after the devastating earthquake in February 2010 the room that was host to many nights with friends and the Xbox 360 was destroyed. The console survived and was moved to my room. And there it sat for over a year unplayed. I had no motivation to play it. Nothing out there in the world was tempting me enough to switch it back on and be greeted by the shit eating grin of my Avatar reminding me that I need to pay money to play my games to it's full capacity.
And that made me sad, because I do not want to see Microsoft fail, I don't want to see any game company fail. I want to play and enjoy their games, but it almost seems that they don't want me to do that. Not when their company heads are so intent on forcing these features many of us do not turn on the console for, when the heads of game development seem to have destroyed all existence of continuing franchises except for the filing cabinets of sections F-H, and especially when they attempt to justify all of this by finally acknowledging their most loyal of fans and claim that they are doing it for them.
I have started playing the console again, catching up on a few games I felt I should play and taking a stroll down memory lane of the times of turning the console on daily with the intent of playing it for hours on end. But earlier today when my older brother came home he sat beside me as I unhappily made my way through Halo 4's less than average campaign (don't judge me) and we discussed plans to buy a Playstation 3 and it's successor upon it's eventual release in the following year. And as we talked, I turned my head to the Xbox 360, sitting beside the television purring with the sound of a jet plane taking off and struggling to not overheat under the obviously intense pressure of simply playing a game. And sadness crept over me, as I came to the realization that this may be the last of Microsoft's consoles that I will purchase.
And as this thought crept over me, I could have sworn that I heard the Xbox 360 cry.
Either that, or It swallowed my fucking disc again.