Thursday, May 23, 2013

Microsoft Drops The Ball In The Biggest Way Possible

By now, most Gamer's are aware of Microsoft's disastrous "Xbox One" reveal and the entertaining fallout/meltdown among the game community. Now it is time to look at how their console unveiling completely reshaped the expectations of the entire video game industry. While people have endlessly bashed Nintendo's Wii U and mocked the PS4 reveal, Microsoft took a perfect opportunity to wow Gamer's and instead chose to piss them off with an Orwellian console that takes freedom and choice away from the consumer.

It was an odd thing to watch 8 years of goodwill built up through the Xbox 360 literally get thrown away in a 1 hour presentation. Microsoft made one thing clear about their next system, they want it to be the center of your television experience at the expense of the gaming portion of the machine. Most Gamer's could honestly care less about this and just wanted to see the games which seemingly came off as an afterthought left in the hands of EA and Call of Duty: Ghosts (which ironically is hitting every console imaginable thus negating its relevance to the Xbox One). The oddly titled system came off looking like an 80's version of your cable box with almost the entire presentation talking about how the required (and much maligned) Kinect will change how you interact with television. The resulting fallout among Gamer's can be described as epic with even the most dedicated Xbox fans snapping on the company.

If you were to boil down the biggest things which caused Gamer's to sour on the machine, 4 key points jumps to mind:
  • Always Online: While Microsoft reps tried to dodge the subject, it was ultimately revealed that every game would have to be registered with their "Azure" cloud system in turn confirming that the system would HAVE to be connected to register games and get constant updates/patches. Microsoft was quick to point out that the always online requirement would be left up to each developer but the registration requirement basically forces their hand.
  • Registered Games: Microsoft essentially declared war on the used game market as well as the video game rental market when they revealed that Xbox One games would require installation on the system and become tied to a players Xbox Live account. If you let someone borrow the disc, they have to pay a fee to play the physical copy of the game. This also explains why EA dropped their "online pass" system since Microsoft essentially took the concept to the next level.
  • Kinect Requirement: The original Kinect was an interesting experiment designed in response to the Wii phenomenon and held some promise but was largely ignored by the bulk of 360 owners due to major flaws with the interface and the controller working much better. Instead of modifying their strategy to account for this, Microsoft has opted to cram the device down your throat by not only including it with every system but also requiring it to be used in order to operate the system. Considering that the technology is still largely imperfect, this has turned many people off to the system by its very inclusion.
  • No Backwards Compatibility: This may seem trivial but when you consider the 8 years of content for the 360, this suddenly becomes a massive issue. Microsoft followed this news with a second swift kick to the balls of 360 customers when it was revealed that while your Live account/Avatars could be transferred to the new system, your Xbox Live Arcade titles are stuck on you old system. This is an amazingly stupid move when you look at the online push for the new system and the massive amount of Live arcade games which have been sold.
The "epic failure" list could go on but it's obvious that unless Microsoft can completely change their approach by E3, the early adopters needed for a successful launch may jump ship to Sony and Nintendo (or even stay put since 360 will likely be supported for at least another year). Sony and Nintendo both saw jumps in their stock after the Xbox One conference which bodes well for both machines in the coming holiday season provided Nintendo can flood their machine with first party hits and Sony can avoid making their machine too much like the Xbox. When all is said and done, this will likely be remembered as one of the worst system reveals of all time and a major turning point in the home console market. What are your thoughts on the Xbox One and its reveal? Please comment below.

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