Xbox One

May 22, 2013 by Tim

So Microsoft finally officially revealed their new console yesterday. Not Durango, not Xbox Infinity, but Xbox One as it turns out. I actually thought it was a pretty interesting presentation, and it has me excited about the new console. However I’ve also seen the general internet reaction to it, so I feel like the statements I’m about to make may be in the minority. But these are my thoughts on the X1.

The Console

Microsoft showed us all the hardware, very early on. Probably a counter to the still-not-present PS4. It looks nice. Whatever. It’s a black box. Cool.

Television

There’s no denying that a big part of the presentation talked about what the Xbox One does for television. A lot of people have their panties in a bunch over this. “Why should I care about TV, I buy a console for  the games!”

They felt like talking about the various TV/Movie watching features of the X1 somehow stole valuable presentation time from all the video game footage people would have otherwise seen. Like it’s pointless that the console does that.

I think that’s a really narrow angle to look at it from. It’s a next generation console. Of fucking course it’s going to have games, and they’re going to look better than this generation’s games. Has there ever been a new generation of consoles that did not A) improve the graphics of the games and B) have a library of games? I feel like the knowledge that the new Xbox would look better than the 360 falls into “no shit” territory. So why wouldn’t they talk about something new the console brings to the table?

And personally, I’m on board with it. If it works with my cable service, and I have one less remote and one less input to swap between, bring it on. Swapping inputs doesn’t bother me, I’ve been doing it forever. But the idea of not having to do it is nice. Yes, please let me switch between various things I want to do in my living room with a simple voice command. If its as responsive and fast as they say, it’s pretty cool.

I suppose this feature is a problem for people outside of NA due to current lack of support, I don’t know. It’s not really my job to worry about what other people want/get from the console they buy. That someone else can’t use this feature won’t stop me from using it.

Do I need my video game console to do that stuff? Nah, of course not. Will I be happy it’s there once I’ve got it? Probably, yeah. So cool.

Sports

I don’t really care. I’m not going to sit and watch a game of football and mess around with my fantasy team. It doesn’t apply to me. Still, the graphics on those sports games looked really promising, and it seemed like a bunch of neat features for people who are into that genre.

Halo TV Series

Don’t care.

Quantum Break

Huh? I dunno. It looked very pretty.

Moar Call of Duty

Well this was inevitable. It’s video gaming’s biggest franchise, and once again Microsoft has secured early exclusivity to all of its DLC so it’s a big deal for them to announce that.

I’m not a COD fanatic, but the game looked gorgeous. Perhaps I’ll even play this one, who knows.

Where were all the games?!

Eh. Sony had a lot more eyecandy at their PS4 presentation, but half of it was tech demos. It was nice to look at, but at the same time they didn’t show us any hardware. Or any UI/feature functionality. They promised a lot of really neat stuff, but couldn’t show any of it working. People are acting like because Microsoft didn’t show a ton of game trailers yesterday, the X1 won’t have any games. Seriously?

E3 is in what, two weeks? It makes no sense for Microsoft to blow their load today, when they can get the press for the console reveal now, and then get all of the press next month when they unveil a ton of new games.

They promised 15 exclusive titles coming to the console, more than half of which are brand new IPs. Plus all of the games that developers are making for any system that can run them. Are people really freaking out because they didn’t see them all today?

Backward Incompatible

Yeah, no backwards compatibility. That’s fine. When the 360 came out, I had one Xbox game that I really, really still wanted to pick up and play with a friend every once in a while, and that was The Warriors. And it was never added to the backwards compatibility list. I got over it.

If the Xbox One rolls around, and there’s still a 360 game I desperatrely need to play, well, nobody is forcing me to throw away my 360. I have my original Xbox for the same reason, and not once have I pulled it out of the closet. Backwards compatibility is nice, but lack of it is not a dealbreaker.

Always On

Again, whatever. My consoles are always connected anyway. I can see how this is an issue for people without a regular internet connection, but if that’s the case, you simply don’t buy the console. I mean, you wouldn’t buy a cellphone if you lived in a city with absolutely no service. You just use landlines to make your phone calls. In this case the landlines are the Xbox 360 and PS3.

However, this is one of those areas of information where facts are pretty hard to come by. Microsoft didn’t seem ready to fully announce the details concerning the console checking in via internet, so their message is all over the place. Take everything you read about this with a big grain of salt until Microsoft makes an official statement. Or until the console is out, because honestly all of this shit can change.

Used Games

Ugh. This where things get really messy. And the information about how exactly this works is even more convoluted. For real, take nothing about this as fact right now.

All games will be installed to your X1 console. The game you buy will come with a code that connects that game to your profile. If you give/sell your disc to someone else, all that gives them is the raw data to install the game. To play it, they’ll need to purchase their own access code at full MSRP. This is an attempt to curb the used games industry, and it’s a sore spot with a lot of gamers.

This topic is fodder for an entire article of its own (and has been), and I really don’t want to rehash it here. I’m just going to address a couple of arguments.

“I’m allowed to sell the car I own. I should be able to sell the video game I own. It’s my property.”

When you sell a car, you get less money for it because its used. Its overall lifespan and value has decreased. The person buying your car is getting a less valuable product than you got when you bought the car brand new. It’s got miles on it, maybe some dents and dings. There are unknown mechanical problems lurking under the hood that the new buyer may have to address.

There is a tangible value disparity between a brand new car, and a used car that accompanies the differences in price. However a video game that is used is exactly the same product as it was when it was new. The programming does not deteriorate. Bugs and crashes aren’t going to suddenly pop up due to age. No matter how many times the game is resold, the used product remains identical to the new product.

If you walked into a car dealership and there was a brand new car sitting there for the same price as a used, beat up model of the same car, anyone in their right mind is going to take the new car for the used car price. And it’s the same with used video games. Why would someone pay $60 for a game when they can get the exact same game for $40?

Except now your money is going to GameStop, not the people that made the game. 

Now you can say “But they already got their money from the original sale! Car companies don’t get a cut every time someone sells a used car!” That’s true. But somebody shopping for a used car is not in the market for a new car. A used car buyer is not “stealing” a potential new car sale. However a used game buyer is stealing a potential new game sale. So whereas the developer might have sold two games, they have now sold one, and GameStop has sold one. It’s not about ownership or “its my property”, it’s about used games presenting a threat to new game sales.

And you can also say “But people who buy a used game will then go on to buy other games from that developer.” Sure they will. I’m sure it happens. But mostly it doesn’t. That’s like the people who justify their pirating of games by saying “It’s only to try it! I totally go and buy the game afterwards!” Right. Again, I’m certain that happens, but more often it doesn’t.

People who buy used games buy used games. When faced with the same product for cheaper, they aren’t going to buy new just to support a developer. They’re going to buy in favor of their wallet.

Now, you can argue the morality of used games all you want, but the bottom line is that developers feel it takes money away from their business, and so they have every right to try and combat it. The most definitive thing you can do is simply not buy the console if it’s a big deal to you, but let’s be honest… you were clearly going to buy the games used if that’s the case, so the developers won’t know the difference. They weren’t getting your money either way.

But again, this whole issue needs a lot of clarification from Microsoft. I don’t really care which way they go with it, but the misinformation floating around is making the situation far worse. When this came out, people were upset that you apparently couldn’t take a game to a friend’s house due to the restrictions. Now it turns out that you absolutely can play a game at a friend’s house, you just have to sign into your profile. No big deal. But people spent a few hours going batshit crazy about this.

This needs to be addressed before E3 in my opinion. Tomorrow would be nice. Letting cloudy facts run rampant is doing Microsoft no favors. Even if they just come out and say “Yeah, fuck your used games” so that people can just decide not to buy the console and get on with their lives.

Summary

Maybe I’m simply the type of consumer that the Xbox One was designed for. The features seem interesting, and none of them particularly conflict with my existing lifestyle or meta in any serious way. I’m always connected, and I don’t buy used games. So I really have no complaints. Of course I’ll buy one, it’s my job. Same with the PS4. I’m looking forward to the new generation.

I sympathize with those for whom the various meta changes to the console landscape present a serious problem, either in function or philosophy. I am, however, certain that there will be other options for those people.

I’m also certain that, as usual, a lot of people will complain right up until the first exclusive drops that they just can’t live without.

Or who knows, maybe Microsoft will cave and backpeddle on the bigger sticking points. There’s still roughly half a year before these consoles hit store shelves, and a lot can change. I don’t think it’s worth so much anger until things are cast in concrete.


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Serouj Ghazarian

Backwards incompatible….

Until recently.