Hello fellow console patrons or PC overlords, today is a pretty historical day in terms of what has happened in the gaming industry. Basically half of it is good news for consumers, while the other half may be possibly bad news for Microsoft in terms of adapting toward a new generation. If you may not have heard recently, Microsoft eliminated their used games and always-online DRM policies. Not only would this be a good time to talk about this, but it also seems just as right to discuss their so-called ‘plans’ after E3.
However let’s get into this massively back-pedaled move right here. First off the article by Don Mattrick, begins with what I assume may be the most begrudging ‘thank you’ note to the fans. At least it helps to think that way after hearing this:
Remember that famous quote? “Fortunately we do have a product for people who do want to get some form of content, it’s called Xbox 360.” Now after seeing that interview, does this line up with what has been said here?
“Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One.“
– Don Mattrick
Ultimately this is an example of proving how past mistakes can affect the outlook of your company. Sure, of course there are the fanboys who will be there day 1, ready to purchase an Xbox One while wearing a ‘Halo‘ t-shirt. And then there are those who act hypocritical and wind up buying an Xbox One because of them mimicking another company’s strategy. Maybe it’s because I been through that before, but for me this just comes down to how the company and the CEO react to the public. In this case, there seems to be a sense of stubbornness coming from Microsoft about this whole shindig.
It can’t be easy to transition to something completely different from what you’ve been embarking on beforehand. In this case, Microsoft going the route of digital distribution, while Sony going the ‘old-school’ route of mainly focusing on software. That was the whole conflict since the Xbox One press conference, the new digital distribution ways against the old physical distribution ways. And now that’s no longer the case.
This reminded me a lot of the reception to the Mass Effect 3 ending(s), and how there were so many people furiously upset after finishing the game. Afterward the game got an ‘Extended Cut’ DLC to rid of the anger out there with those who wanted something more concrete. I feel like this is the same thing, except much less resulting with a mixed reception since it’s basically Microsoft changing their ways on the flip of a dime rather than making more adjustments.
On the other hand, if you are a consumer who was strongly opposed to the idea of always-online DRM and used-games restrictions, then I say today was a victory. We as consumers do get to control, to a certain degree, what we feel like is right or wrong. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but in this case I think this was a huge victory. Though seeing the pre-orders for PS4’s outselling Xbox One’s may have something to do with that as well, just because a company like Microsoft has offered a gift to the consumers, doesn’t mean the greed just goes away in an instance. Especially with Don Mattrick on board, unless he goes through some sort of spiritual journey or gets fired, I’m still going to remain very cautious about all this.
Moving on from a strange image of Don Mattrick wearing a monk robe, what about the software? Where does Microsoft stand in terms of their first party content? As it turns out they do have plenty to show, but will it be enough to tide people over until the inevitable release of Halo 5? Most importantly, will these games be ‘good’ and prove that Microsoft does have a stable line-up of studios to show off?
It’s going to sound like I’m bitching about this, however while I was pleased that Microsoft wasn’t going to be mostly feeding off their big three studios (Microsoft Studios, Lionhead Studios, and 343 Studios), what they did show wasn’t too enticing. For instance, Ryze in concept is actually really neat and shows off the power behind the Xbox One, the problem here is that while it does look neat, the combat sequences looked like button prompts taken from God of War. Spark is a game about creating terrains and forts, it’s a neat idea that feels like something Molyneux would have made, the problem here is that the usage of SmartGlass behind it isn’t selling me. There were some other interesting titles like the one from Insomniac and some other Xbox Live arcade game that I probably overlooked. The only one that I would really love to play is Titanfall, an FPS involving mechs and jetpacks, and that’s it.
I feel like the next five years for Microsoft could go either way. If they do manage to tell Mattrick to get lost or change his ways, then I will feel confident about them as a company. If they do however continue to make irrational/dumb decisions based on how much money they make and completely avoid consumers (you know, the hardcore gamers), then they’re screwed. As I said, if you were to take away anything from this, guess what? No more BS involving always-online DRM and not being able to play pre-used games, despite the fact that the system could already run them.
Does this mean I’m gonna buy an Xbox One on launch or the year after? Hell no.
It would also be great for once if they didn’t have to rely just on Halo for them to sell their console, but then again I just want another Banjo & Kazooie game. I know Rare is no longer the same studio they used to be, but can a big green dinosaur dream? No? Well fuck it, I’ll make my own Rare platformer then, it’s gonna be called ‘Triangle & Rubber Band’, people will love it.