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JimmyDanger avatar 7:09 AM on 05.22.2013  (server time)
Xbox - My One Real Problem

So - the Xbox One launch was a thing that happened. And y'know - most of it, I was cool with.

We got the console name, an overview of the OS functionality, a snippet of gaming - and a whole lot of "here's our partners from different markets".

There was a focus on entertainment - I expected that. With E3 19 days away - surely this presentation was the lightning flash for the expanded, mainstream audience - and E3 will bring the gaming thunder. Confirmation of 15 Microsoft Games Studio published exclusives in the first 12 months was a bold statement of intent, clearly letting us know - they'll have a lot more to show us in 19 days time.

 There'd been a lot of flack Microsoft's way for their focus on family/casual gaming and services for the last 2 1/2 years - and I could shrug that off as par for the course for the late life cycle of a successful platform, attempting to expand their audience - Ps2 years 6 and 7 I recall a lot of Buzz, Singstar and the prerequisite FIFA/Madden/PES port peppered by the occassional GOW exclusive. And if you successfully expand your audience - you're well within your right to attempt to keep them.

And while the "activation code" isn't optimum for my situation (for example - I have 2 360's in my house - one my son and wife play, and one with my account - not to mention we just lost our family gold subscription option)- I never buy used games - if MS are doing it, Sony are probably doing something similar (especially in light of their "clarifications" on the issue), and because, 3rd Party publishers will be crazy about the idea - so until both parties make their positions clear, and pricing, trading and other specifics become clearer - I'll reserve judgement.

I guess I've favoured MS this generation, so I expected the Xbox hardware to be all I wanted it to be - which to an extent - it was -  but I will say I was massively disappointed by the lack of backwards compatibility. This was a mistake Sony made transitioning first from PS2 to Ps3 , and one I thought Microsoft understood the significance of. In the age of connected devices, and services as platforms -  effectively shutting down someone's old service without letting them take their purchases to the new service, is incredibly shortsighted.

This current generation of console gaming has been the first to really push digital content/downloadable games, and many great titles have only been available via download. No physical copies, for real world money. Just like most every PC game, or app from the iTunes or android store you say - but with the important difference that when you get a new phone or computer - you're able to still play the stuff you bought without having to dig out your old device. I have literally hundreds of downloaded titles, in addition to DLC additions to games, with many, many, many still to be played/ completed. Sure, I'd probably die before I played most of them, but I would be reluctant to essentially"throw them away". I can keep SNES cartridges in a cupboard while the system of 20 years ago is packed away - not necessarily downloaded titles.

The inability to play 360 games, even just downloaded ones, is a massive disappointment to me. Its also turned me from day one purchaser of the New Xbox into "wait and see". And if I did, I'd be buying very little downloadable content - which MS made more from me this generation than they did selling me hardware and accessories.

I'd imagine that'd be beyond the scope of the engineers of other companies - but Microsoft - with their vast software engineering capabilities - I would have thought would be able to develop a VirtualMachine/Emulator to run all software. Obviously the architecture is quite different - but with the increase in system power, I thought they'd be able to find a way to achieve this - especially considering the 360 setup is not too different to a 7 year old PC - and they seemed to manage Win7 compatibility inside W8. Once again - for the company that is the master of creating OS's that run across thousands of hardware configurations - I never doubted they'd sort Backwards Compatibility out.

And I thought the marketing department would have decreed it essential - to protect consumer confidence in their XBL marketplace and the longevity/validity of its digital product to consumers,

I guess it's not all over - there's hope of some kind of hardware solution - and I've even read the possibility of the 360 using the HDMI in port to achieve a single screen/interface/net connection kind of "piggyback backward compat" - even a new discless 360 model to achieve this. But I'm disturbed various MS types haven't hinted at it and just flat out denied any BC. Still - fingers crossed.

I just find it strange that the most successful consoles of all time, ie. the best sellers, and the ones that have reached most into the casual/non gamer market - and broadened the industry - The PS2, The Wii, The Gameboy, Gameboy Advance and DS - have all utilised at least one generation of backwards compatibility. To write BC off as a "hardcore" perk - rather than essential part of broadening their userbase - is a little bit disingenous - when empirical evidence (we're talking about the two most successful home consoles in history) suggests otherwise.

With BC - I'd be Xbox One day one - even if the initial launch lineup doesn't agree with me - I'd be assured access to my huge library of previous gen titles - and therefore my early purchase would be validated.

Without BC - sure, there'll be some launch games I'd like - but it'd be much easier to wait until the list of games I wanted edged into double figures (maybe a year or so down the track, maybe more) to really push me to buy the console at the higher launch price.

Just a few thoughts on how important BC is to me. I'll be so happy if come E3 MS come out and say "Punk'd! We've implemented full BC with 360 by some software emulation engineering ingenuity that you'd only expect from us Wizards here at Microsoft! Of course we were always going to - we just wanted to surprise you!"  - I'd settle for - "here's a $100 dongle/add-on that enables full BC" -  but if that's not part of the plan - this here's another coin tinkle to echo through the cavernous chambers of the internet that could rise to a raging stormfront and crash down upon the beaches of the people who make these decisions.

Although I'm not too sure it'd make much difference.

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