It's been awhile since I tapped my inner soul to write a blog. A long time since I've let my emotions surface in a way expressed through anything but intense cynicism and social isolation. But I noticed something after the Xbox One was revealed; I started to realize that my passion and overall love for videogames was starting to fade. Every drop of excitement was replaced by skepticism, fear, and depression, and nothing anyone said seemed to lighten it.
Announcements immediately filled me with dread, fearing that those same companies that gave me so much enjoyment for so many years would single handedly try and rip it away. I tried to stay optimistic, but I just couldn't do it. It was the first time I can ever remember not being excited at all about an upcoming generation of gaming. It was the first time I ever considered quitting gaming altogether. And, as you may have guessed, the Xbox One was the push that sent me ever so closely to that edge.
Yes, I know, the current generation will still last for a little while longer, and at least as far as home consoles go, Nintendo was on an admittedly slow trend that I at least had some faith in succeeding. But the Xbox, indeed Microsoft, was somehow special to me, solely because it was the very first console where I could buy every single game myself. I had to beg for Nintendo 64 games, I had to save lunch money for weeks to buy a Dreamcast game, but when the Xbox hit I finally had my own income, my own games, on my own terms.
It may sound stupid, but that was one of the best damn feelings I had during my entire childhood.
Disclaimer: These are not actually my games
These games were mine, they weren't gifts, they weren't rentals, they were my games. And that knowledge changed me. It made me appreciate the work that went into these games, it made me appreciate the people in the stores who sold me the games. It made me realize just how much I really wanted these games to be a big part in my life.
Enter the Xbox One. Now I'd like to avoid beating a dead horse here, but I can't avoid poking it with a stick. The restrictions, the online requirement, the fact that they essentially turned disc based games into a glorified digital copy with seemingly more barriers than a true digital one. I hated it all, but not for the reasons you may think.
I've been pretty vocal about my detest for digital distribution, and while I agree it has a place, I don't agree at all with the level that it is being implemented in gaming today. Indies? Fine, it makes sense, smaller developers have a common, low cost method to get their work out there, where it would otherwise be impossible. I respect that.
But big name publishers, even middle class publishers turning to digital fills me with that sense of dread and depression. People argue that 'it's the only way' when, in reality, it often seems like publishers just don't care or devalue their own franchises. But if all I cared about was playing the game, then I wouldn't have nearly as much of a problem with it. But gaming isn't just about the gameplay to me.
It's about the experience as a whole.
Experiences that would have been lost in their original form without used games and right of ownership.
Now, with that out of the way, I won't drag digital through the mud too much. I know I'm in the minority, and if you enjoy it, then that is your choice. Indeed, the point of this blog is to primarily focus on how Microsoft managed to take something I hated, and twist that hatred into an all out blinding rage.
Microsoft originally gained some of my favor back by announcing disc based games. But as quickly as it had come, Microsoft made a series of confirmations that made me seriously concerned about the future of my life long past time. Essentially, they turned my disc based games into digital copies, slapped on restrictions, terms, which made me wonder...why even have a disc in the first place?
Sure, it allows me to buy my games in a store; which I enjoy, by the way; and I can put it on my shelf. Part of that experience that I love had been preserved in some form, but that alone wasn't enough. I still didn't own anything. Sure, I may have paid for it, but when Microsoft has the keys to deny access at any time, I can never say that I owned it.
Which brings me to the biggest problem I have with this 'check in' requirement. It's not about the internet, it's even less about the right to resell that game or loan it to a friend. It's about the sole fact that having that game on my shelf means nothing to me. It's not mine. It's Microsoft's.
And I will admit, Microsoft has some games I really want to play. Halo is one of my favorite franchises from the current generation, and Sunset Overdrive looks like Brink infused with a Jet Set Radio branded energy drink. These are the kind of games I'd normally buy a system for. These are the kinds of games I'd like to own.
But what happens in six years, when the Xbox Two comes out? What happens when Microsoft shuts the servers down? These discs I paid for are worthless. In a single fell swoop my entire Xbox One gaming collection could be rendered entirely worthless by a single company who never cared to address that particular concern. I can't collect these, I can't pass them on to a new generation, I can't keep these on a shelf and share them with my children (God willing) to pass my passion and love for these games on.
Pictured: Xbox One games in six to ten years.
I was never alive to experience that day Atari made gaming a household name, but you better believe I own, and have played, Pong multiple times in it's original mainstream form on the Atari 2600. Every NES game I now own came out long before I knew what a job was, the Genesis was far out of my reach, and I was lucky to own more than 5 or 6 Dreamcast games. But now, on all of those systems and more, I own at least 20 games.
Do I play them all? No. But the experience for me is knowing I own them. Knowing that I have history, I have something that can be passed on to those, like me, who used to have no idea what gaming was like before their time. It's a passion I feel so deeply for that I want to preserve it. I want it to live on. And Microsoft had inadvertently sentenced it to death. They had taken something so simple, something I took for granted; the ability to buy second hand games and play them whenever I wanted to; and threw it away.
Which is why one statement in particular gave me such a sense of hope, such a sense of joy that I can't even put it into words. When Sony announced the PS4 would not adopt the same model as the Xbox One, I may as well have won the lottery. Sony was keeping discs, they were keeping my passion alive. They weren't just making a good decision, they were telling me that they shared that passion. I owned my games, my experiences, my passion; not them.
They made me remember why I love gaming as much as I do, they reignited my hope for the future. And that's exactly why I went out and pre-ordered one that very night.
Remember when game consoles had you verify you owned a game by inserting the game?
Sure, at it's core, gaming is about gameplay. But for me, it's equally about knowing that I own a piece of that, it's about knowing that years from now I can come back to an experience I love without relying on companies to allow me the privilege to do so. I can give these games to someone I care about and share it with them forever. These experiences are mine, and I can keep them forever. I can say without a shred of doubt, that these are my games.
And you know what? That's worth more to me than any exclusive in the world.view gallery