Let me preface this with the fact that I am not an Xbox fan boy. I honestly don’t consider myself a fan boy of any gaming platform. From the ages of 8-14, I was a Nintendo fan boy all the way. From 15-18, I was a mixture of feelings toward Nintendo with the Game Cube and PlayStation with the PS2. 18-22, I was a huge Sony fan boy, only owning a PS3. Then I got an Xbox 360 and everything from the user interface to the superior online atmosphere made me fall in love; not to mention my falling into the trap of the Cheevo. My PS3 started to collect dust mainly because it only had an 80GB hard drive and the fan on the system is so loud you can hear it from across the house. However, once PlayStation Plus came around, I started to look at my PS3 more, with the great free content they provided to their loyal customers. I actually just bought a huge hard drive for my PS3 which gets delivered today and I will spend my evening upgrading my PS3.
Even though PlayStation Plus added a lot of new content, I’ve been spending most of my gaming on my PC. With all of the Steam sales and Humble Bundles, my consoles have turned into Netflix players. The past two games I’ve gotten from GameFly, I’ve had for almost two months each with few hours of gameplay. The past few weeks, I have come to accept the pros and cons of each gaming platform and I’m glad I have each of them.
Besides the WiiU, there’s like no games for that thing.
With the news coming out of these recent console press conferences and e3 showing us a lot more about them, I’ve noticed a lot of trends. People seem to hate Microsoft with a passion for their decision to add DRM to all of their games, have the Xbox One unable to play used games, and always needing the Kinect plugged in. Conversely, people are praising Sony to high heaven because their new console can play used games, doesn’t have to connect to the internet, and is cheaper. People started using phrases like “Xbox Done” and “Xbone” stating that the Xbox One was dead and that Sony was to be crowned King of Kings of this console generation that hasn’t even really started yet. Personally, if I had to choose a console right now I would go PS4 hands down, but I am trying to play Devil’s Advocate after the overwhelming reaction after last night's conferences. So here is why I think the Xbox One isn’t dead:
It’s the Future
Digital is the future without a doubt. Downloading games and streaming games is our future and there’s not much you can do about it. It will be more efficient and cheaper to have everything be downloadable. You’re sitting at home and you decide that you want a new game, all you have to do is press download and then you can start playing the game. Look at Steam as an example of digital content. Everything is all bits and bytes; you don’t physically own anything besides an email or information on your account that states that you own the game. I understand there are issues with people not always having access to the internet to check that their games are valid and not everyone has fast internet that gives them the ability to download a full-size game in 20 minutes. There are soldiers overseas on active duty that spend their downtime on military bases playing video games to pass the time. They might not always have the best internet or any at all which could cause issues. However, I think these edge cases are few and far between. On a larger scale, most people have access to some sort of internet to verify their purchases, but it would be nice if they found another way to verify ownership to try and account for these edge cases.
Money is an Issue
Right now the PS4 is $100 cheaper than the Xbox One and that is going to be the deciding factor for a lot of people. I don’t think people should decide soley based on that price difference until we know more about the price of games. Right now the price of a new game is $60 and that comes from the fact that you have to print a disc, a case, a manual, and account for shipping costs. Also factored within that price is that publishers and developers are going to lose money from the sale of used games. Square Enix considered Tomb Raider a loss with 3.4 million sales because games cost a lot to make; more than people know. If there were no used games, publishers and developers would get 100% of the profit, meaning they could lower the price of their games. This method would work if they sold their games for $40-45.
One thing people hate is expensive DLC, claiming that the content should have been in the game to begin with and not sold on the side. The reason for the $15 DLC is because developers need a way to make up for lost revenue. If they get 100% of the profit from the game, there is no reason for them to not have $1 DLC or even free DLC.
There is loop that exists in retail that keeps everything going: Developers make game, Publishers sell game, Consumers buy game, Publishers and Developers get paid, Developer makes game 2. The problem there is a little break in the loop where the Consumer A sells game to Retailer, Retailer sells game to Consumer B, Consumer B sells game to Retailer, Retailer sells game to Consumer C, Developer goes out of business. This causes the Publishers and Developers, you know the people who brought the game into existence in the first place, to make one sale off of a game that gets sold 15 times. I don’t think Publishers and Developers are being greedy for wanting to make money off of the game they create. I also understand that I have a full time job and can afford to pay money for a game I want, but I’ve been those other shoes. I’ve been in the scenario where I am living paycheck to paycheck and eating ramen for every meal. You can’t really afford $120 a month for a couple games, but if Microsoft does it right $80 a month is much more reasonable for most people.
It’s a Good Console; it just has a lot of baggage
There are a lot of good elements and improvements in the Xbox One that make it a fantastic gaming machine. The ability to start downloading a game and play it while it is still downloading is incredible; even if you are in the situation where you have slow internet that could make a world of difference for you. The ability to jump in and out of games instantly is fantastic and is not a gimmick like a lot of people claim. “I don’t need to watch TV on my console or use Netflix.” Stop being so self-centered! The Xbox One isn’t for YOU, it is for everyone! Yes there are going to be features of the console you will never use but others will use all the time. I would love the ability to be play a game and I get into a situation where I get super frustrated and be able to say “Xbox TV” and have it quickly snap to my favorite episode of Adventure Time and lighten my mood a bit before switching back to my game in a better state of mind to get past a difficult section of the game I was playing.
Watching a movie or a video shrunk down while doing things on my dashboard would be nice for me, since I like to multitask. The ability for someone to remotely take control of your game from their console could be helpful in tough situations for some people. Integration with tablets using the Smart Glass has a lot of potential. Similar to the Vita connecting to the PS4 or the WiiU gamepad, using a tablet to integrate with your main game has a lot of potential, provided you are given a robust experience from it. I would love to be at my mom’s house for lunch and a friend needs my help in a game so I jump on my tablet real quick and can assist them by controlling a missile drone or hack into someone’s game to hinder their progress in Watchdogs.
There are a lot of things that have been crammed into the Xbox One that do not excite me, though. Always needing the Kinect 2 plugged in causes a lot of issues. There is the fear that it is always listening and always watching you which probably isn’t true, but is possible. Not everyone has a giant living room to make use of the Kinect 2 even though it can be operated in a smaller space. This is especially a big deal for Japan, which has never been the best market for the Xbox. Most people in Japan live in very small places with barely any room at all, making the Kinect 2 next to useless for those consumers. This leads to the unfortunate situation that not a lot of Japanese developers are going to create games for the Xbox One and will only develop exclusively for the PS4. Hopefully Microsoft is not requiring developers to include Kinect 2 features and developers only add those features if they feel they add to the game. The system either being “Always Online” or having to connect to the internet to verify the validity of games once every 24 hours is a horrible idea. There are better ways to get around theft in games without needed that daily check.
Xbox Live Gold Plus?
When the PS3 and the Xbox 360 where in their younger days, people toted that the PS3 was better because you didn’t have to pay for multiplayer. However, that left people with a horrible online experience playing multiplayer on PS3. Servers were slow, servers were down a lot, and the lack of an included microphone with the system left people playing with mute, useless teammates. Microsoft was proud of their service and stuck with the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Meanwhile Sony saw the opportunity to improve their online experience and improve it they did. PlayStation Plus added a lot of content and surpassed Xbox Live at the speed of light. Microsoft has said that on the Xbox One you will get two free games a month in response to PlayStation Plus, but that won’t be enough; especially if they only plan on giving us free games that are several years old and we could pick up for a few bucks anyway. If they want to rival PlayStation Plus, they need to give us access to recent games for free, exclusive DLC, early access to content, and a lot of discounts on games.
Nothing is Set in Stone
Coming out of these press conferences we need to remember that we do not know all the facts and nothing is set in stone. There is always time for either company to change their plans to take the lead or to even potentially make the gap between consoles bigger. I doubt Microsoft will change their stance on used games or DRM, I think due to some already established contracts, but they can always change and improve other aspects of their console. With cheaper games and Steam-like sales, Xbox One could rise back from its early grave. If they remove the daily internet check for validating games and switch to some sort of one time validation, they would be much better off.
All of this being said, Sony really did “win e3” with their press conference but this is not because of the ability to play used games or not having to check online for validation. In my opinion, the reason Sony won e3 is because they put an emphasis on Indie developers who often have some of the best games of the year, showed several exclusive games on their console, had world premieres for a lot of games, and the fact that their console is $100 cheaper (because it doesn’t have a $100 camera tacked on). Digital is the future and used games are going to go away, and Sony did this right because, with the flick of a switch and some software updates, the PS4 can become that console when the time is right. Microsoft messed up by shoving people out of the plane without a parachute.
Side note just so people know. I have no plans on buying either console when they come out, but as of right now, with the information we have, if I had to buy one of them it would be PS4 hands down. I hope Microsoft fixes these issues so they actually stand a chance this generation.