(Disclaimer: this is my first attempt at writing a Destructoid blog post, after years of lurking in the shadows with my fellow ninja and taking my stabs at comments once in a while. This is a cross-post from my personal blog)
Like many, yesterday all my attention was turned to the Xbox reveal conference held by Microsoft. Like many, I expected good things from this. How could I not? Microsoft entered the last generation with a full head of steam and surprised everyone by being an awesome gaming console. With the reveal of the PS4 in February we all expected Microsoft to really blow us away with the new Xbox now that they knew what was up Sony's sleeve. Well, they did blow us away alright. But it was in all the wrong ways.
I have to admit, I started off last generation by only owning a mid-range PC and a PSP (yes, people actually bought it!). In time I got myself a PS3 and a 360. I still intend to get a Wii though. But in the generation prior, I actually owned only an Xbox and I was mindblown by the great games I had on it. Many times me and my pals in high school would spend time talking about the games that were exclusive to the Xbox and PS2 and different they were, yet still awesome. Hell, I've always been critical of the 360 because of it's focus to only one market of gamers and the paid online service instead of repeating the awesomeness of its predecessor and having games for pretty much everyone, (there was no Xbox Live in my country) which in my eyes, bolstered the value of the console. But hey, the 360 was damn successful so that goes to show how much I know.
But somewhere along the last decade, Microsoft fooled us all. They fooled us in making us believe they cared for gaming. They fooled us in making believe they wanted to bring gaming forward. But just like the propaganda of the Third Reich, it was all lies. Maybe this was their plan all along. We honestly should have seen this coming. We should have seen this coming because Bill Gates did warn us. This is what he said at the unveiling of the original Xbox:
"This box is going to be the entertainment hub in the living room"
Damn right. But you know what the Xbox and the Xbox 360 had that made me use their media-centric as really awesome extras? They had games. Yeah, big shocker I know. In the end, the press conference from yesterday was the culmination of their decade old plan. This plan was to create a userbase (or fanbase) big enough to support them so they could create this thing that was unveiled yesterday and have people to sell it to. I'm sure the rising success of Apple in the media market is related, obviously. But I have no shred of doubt in my mind that this was their plan all along.
We had more warning signs over the past eight years though. Signs that Microsoft didn't really care about gaming, or bringing gaming to the next level. All they wanted, was for you to support them and they made it pretty clear by using very very dirty tactics.
The first clear warning sign was when they paid Rockstar Games $10 million to buy-out GTAIV content for a one-year exclusivity, locking out all owners of PC and PS3 of this content for that said period. The same money that could have gone into funding first-party games, or making Xbox Live Arcade a better platform for up-and-coming developers. This was repeated when they signed an exclusivity deal with Activision to get exclusive DLC and add-on content for Call of Duty games on the 360. Still, people supported them.
The second clear warning sign we failed to aknowledge was the entire second-half of the Xbox 360's life cycle. The half that focused on pushing movies, TV content and all the media whatchamacallit that gamers couldn't care less about. The half that buried gaming and indie content deep into the crust of the Earth because Microsoft had already used them to get what they wanted out of the system. Still, people supported them.
Now, Microsoft show us their true colors and their true intentions. I'm going to finish this post by focusing on the damning "features" that make this new Xbox not a game console, but a thing for other people that aren't gamers. (funny thing is, the conference was yesterday but the more time passes the less appealing the console becomes, considering all that we keep learning about it)
* The console has to be connected to the internet once every 24 hours to function, even for offline games.
Really? Just wow. So, if I need to travel somewhere where I will have no connection for a long time, I can't use my console? This is quite great. Reminds me of that one time I snuck my original Xbox out of my house and took it with me on a school trip of 3 days, so me and my friends could play games all night on it on motel TVs. So much for that.
* After inserting a one-time code, the disc content will be locked into your Live account, meaning everyone using your console can play it.[/li]
Yeah, but when I borrow a game to my friends, I don't expect to have to borrow my Live account or my entire console with it. This not only is anti-used games, but its also anti-consumeristic. Add-in the unconfirmed story (even though it was said by a Microsoft Exec) that your friends or used game buyers would have to pay FULL PRICE to be able to play the game... I really have no words.
* The Xbox One cannot function without Kinect.
Another restriction in being able to use the console? You're really going all-out aren't you Microsoft? There's not much to say about this except that Kinect is trash and no person with half-a-brain should buy hardware that requires such an useless add-on to be plugged in at all times.
* The Xbox One functions as a TV Hub.
Yes. If you are in the United States. All the features that were shown yesterday? They are totally useless if you live in Europe or Asia. Have fun paying a yearly subscription to use zero features!
* No games were announced for the Xbox One...
...besides Call of Duty. More to come at E3! Just wait! We will unveil all new Kinect-enabled games that you can't get anywhere else! And also games that you can get on the looking-right-now-much-superior PC or PS4.
All-in-all the Xbox is not a gaming console. Not anymore. It's something else for a totally different market. If you are a gamer, you have no reason to acquire this new media platform. Microsoft gave you no reasons to do it.
P.S. Hey, Microsoft. When you are making Japanese-based companies (which are much more closed-minded and traditional by nature) look positively progressive by comparison... you're doing something very wrong.