I don't comment here often, I just prefer to lurk around and watch everything from the sidelines. But today I just wanted to say that I am proud to have woken up to see the general reaction to Microsoft's anticipated practices with the Xbox One. So many of the sites I've looked at so far (EG, VG247, Kotaku, etc.) have criticised Microsoft's actions, and for good reason. It definitely has opened up an important discussion that we need to have, about a question that has been pushed to the back of many gamers' minds until recently: As consumers, just what does it mean to buy a game?
I call it a discussion because there are always 2 sides to the story. Fair enough, the reaction to the latest news from MS has actually been more positive compared to when leaks started all those months ago (well, it certainly couldn't get any worse, but we'll have to see what the future holds). A constant comparison between the new practices and current practices is that of Steam. In criticizing MS, many people are having to actually carefully consider if all those unplayed games in their Steam library are theirs in the first place. In defence of Steam, there is 1 critical difference (off the top of my head):
Competition: Steam is notoriously cheap, and the number of sales is staggering. This may or may not be driven by Valve's all compassionate heart as many would have you believe, or the lack of used games, but I believe it's because of the presence of other options (GoG,Humble Bundle, heck even Origin if that's your cup of tea). This helps to drive down prices. Factor in the fact that publishers don't have to pay fees to a console manufacturer and we can almost take it for granted that these sales will continue. As Jim Sterling said in When The Starscreams Kill Used Games: "EA once told us outright that games need to start being cheaper than $60, and yet when they made Origin, a system that had no used game market, was solely controlled by EA and distributed distally to cut all manner of production costs, it still still sold games for 60 ****ing dollars". MS's digital distribution system will be a monopoly, so there is no reason for them to drop prices (case in point, Gears of War, released in 2006 is as of time of writing, £19.99.)
From Microsoft's insistent focus that Kinect is the future, to their misguided reasoning that people want to be able to watch live TV, while they Skype their mates, while they play Halo, it's been obvious for a while that MS have been going off track. In their efforts to fend off potential competition from Apple and Google, they've sailed off into the horizon and left us, the gamers, behind. E3 is going to be their last bastion of hope, but even as a 360 owner, I can't help but be pessimistic. Their last few presentations have been consistently poor in my opinion.
When it comes to Sony, their stance of keeping quiet has worked for them - so far. It is clear that they will offer something along the lines of this, and when they do, I eagerly await the reaction of the masses. Sony learned a valuable lesson this generation, and MS exploited their big-headedness. Today we see the role reversal. Today we see Sony market their console as a games console, and MS market theirs as an entertainment device, even evidenced by their choice of name. How times have changed...
At the end of the day, I hope people will realise that the game industry is a business: they exist to make money. For them to make money, consumers have to part with their money, and when million upon millions of pounds/dollars are involved, companies will do whatever they can get away with. I hope that this generation, people can actually stand up and say "No, this is a step too far, I will not support this" with their hard earned cash. But the skeptic within me says that MS will do just fine, and there is not much that we can do about it.
I will now retreat into the darkness