XboxOnePS4Merge

I‘d like to preface what I’ve written here by saying that this is not a scathing attack on Microsoft, the Xbox One, or any of the policies that are (presently, at least) going to be part of the console when it launches. While it may sound like that in the beginning, this is more an indictment on the console industry as a whole. It would be easiest to describe Microsoft as the metaphorical straw that broke the camel’s back: the reveal of their console, and the news that followed, finally pushed me over the edge, and I felt I needed to get it out of my system before going into E3.

I’ve been in a bit of a stupor for the last couple of weeks. Following Microsoft‘s Xbox One reveal, I found myself becoming extremely disinterested in the future of gaming as a whole. As someone who has spent their entire life beholden to the medium, I found such a drastic change in perspective – which occurred more or less over the course of a single week following the reveal – to be extremely alarming. More than that, it was actually frightening.

It would be easy to say that it was all down to Microsoft. The fact that they felt the most important thing to showcase during the reveal of a gaming consolewhat they led off with and spent the most time focusing on – was how it would be able to play live TV, was disappointing. It wasn’t surprising: anyone who’s watched one of Microsoft’s E3 press conferences over the last couple of years could have easily predicted which way the company was headed, but the fact that they treated games as so ancillary was disheartening nonetheless.

XboxOneHeader

You’re damn right I’m gonna use captions to vent a little bit: this nondescript brick is the source of all my problems!

Further than that, the constant backpedaling and flip-flopping over important issues made the company seem so myopic. Rumours have been awash within the gaming community for months about the console’s online requirement, and yet until the middle of last week, we had no definitive answer. First someone said it needed to be online all the time, then someone said it didn’t, then someone said it would need to check in once a day, then someone else said that members of the gaming press were posting facts that were entirely untrue, when, first of all, Microsoft wasn’t giving us the truth, and second of all, the stories about the once-a-day check-in were pretty much the truth of the matter. Scant weeks before the Xbox One reveal, Microsoft had to do damage control over the whole Adam Orth/’deal with it’ issue, yet they had no definitive statement ready to answer this question when they finally revealed the console, instead making us wait an arbitrary number of weeks before giving us a proper response.

Additionally, they’ve reportedly cancelled their post-E3 press conference meetings with the press members, pretty much ensuring that they have a complete stranglehold on the information coming out of E3. We’re only going to learn what they decide to tell us; there aren’t going to be any questions asked that they aren’t ready for. It’s almost like they were angry children who decided to take their ball and go home: they’re frustrated that the games media have been asking game-related questions about the console, and are trying to put a stop to it anyway they can.

Similar to this was the used game issue. Sony fielded tons of questions about that following the PS4 reveal, never really (in my mind) giving a satisfactory answer, so Microsoft should have expected that question. Again, though, they seemed completely surprised by it, or at least unsure of the answer: first it would play used games, then it wouldn’t, then it would, but only if you had an activation code that you bought directly from Microsoft, and, again, the truth only comes out a couple of weeks later, and still leaves some questions as to how the process is going to work.

PS4RevealHeader

My anger isn’t directed solely at Microsoft: the lack of a console at the PlayStation 4 reveal was the definition of ambiguous and secretive. But at least Andrew House didn’t seem so damn smug about everything.

Questions about the ‘always-on’ nature of the new console’s Kinect, the understandable worries about privacy policy, the inclusion of backwards-compatibility with the device (okay, so it doesn’t play 360 games, fine. Don’t call me ‘backward’ for wanting it, though), all of these were fielded with scorn and something sounding very much like condescension from employees of the company. Excuse me for not being thrilled enough with live TV to overlook the other obvious issues with your console, Microsoft, but just about anyone with a keyboard would tell you that you do not treat your consumers like they’re an annoyance.