Let me just get a couple of things out the way before diving into the topic at hand. I am not a fanboy, I know most of you hear this all too often from those who end up being blatant fanboys, but trust me I am not one of them. I've had pretty much every major console release ranging way back from the NES all the way up to my current consoles (the PS3, Xbox 360 and the Wii) and have enjoyed each one of them although obviously some more than others.
I have never passed on buying a console due to me disliking a company or their business approach/philosophy, because honestly there has never been a need for me to do so before, however I fear that I may not be able to say this much longer, and if my fear becomes a reality then Microsoft will have no one to blame but themselves. I know full well that no company is my friend but at least both Sony and Nintendo try to appear as if they respect my intelligence, and above all else respect my desire to play games un-impeded and un-restricted. But wait "Video game companies are about making money" right? we hear this all too often these days as if purely stating such a thing excuses poor business practices, but then who are we who call ourselves "gamers" but those of us who are apparently only fortunate enough to be able feast on the fruit of their proverbial money tree because we provide it sustenance, these companies would do well to remember that without us that money tree they're so proud of would wither and die and with it so would our reason to support them. My point being here is that we needn't tolerate those companies who screw over their consumer base in the name maximising profits, but we do so because we are afraid of loosing the franchises they posses, if only we were brave enough to stick up for ourselves it is more than likely that these companies would sweeten the deal before they see their business crumble at their feet.
Well that's food for thought I suppose.
Anyway, so now to the topic at hand. Ever since the Xbox One was announced along with the controversial DRM plans Microsoft wished to force on us (their faithful longtime consumers) there has been a great divide, a divide between those of us who wish for their consumer rights to remain in tact and dislike the idea of a potentially intrusive and restrictive console entering their homes no matter how "futuristic" some of the other more seemingly positive features appeared to be. And then there are those who do not care about such matters and only wish to play games, no matter how intrusive or restrictive the console they purchase to do so may be, but seemingly all too eager to believe the corporate PR spin that spoke of the original plans for the Xbox One being "the future of gaming" instead of seeing the PR spin for the bait on the end of a lure, there to lure you in so they can yank the hook. Basically, if you're thinking those controversial DRM policies won't rear their ugly head in another shape or form once the Xbox One reaches a decent install base, then I fear you may be being a little too optimistic, Microsoft and certain publishers stand to make considerable profit if such features like the used game restrictions were implemented, but it would a;so be at the cost of our rights to ownership.
I would go into more detail over Microsoft's plans to implement watching TV on your TV through the Xbox One, but I think we've all heard enough about that, if I had to say one or two things about it though it would be this. Attempting to create a games console that is also an "all in one multimedia entertainment device" is an admirable feat, but if these new features come at the cost of our gaming experience then that console may be doomed from the start, the very fact that the Xbox One runs three separate operating systems simultaneously is already a cause for concern because that is taking up additional processing power that could potentially be going towards pushing the boundaries of console gaming, also don't let this "Cloud computing" nonsense fool you, the most reliable and direct answers we have so far is that cloud computing will help improve online gaming by providing improved servers, while those who state that cloud computing will boost the specs of the Xbox One by that of three Xbox 360's have had their claims dismissed by those in high enough authority on the subject to know that such delusions are but a mere pipe dream.
I do realise what I've said so far sounds a little like I'm trying to bash Microsoft and attempting fear mongering, but I'm truly not, all I am trying to do is state my legitimate concerns, concerns I feel that many passionate gamers and fans of Microsoft are not willing to acknowledge due to their un-wavering faith in a company that may not have ours or the games industry's best interest in mind.
Let's talk a little about this years E3 for a moment, now to be honest when it comes to next gen gaming, or more precisely the games shown at E3 2013, I saw few games on any console that I would say truly blew me away (but then again I'm hard to impress) it seemed to me that far too many of them looked like current gen games with beefed up graphics and some added processing power to help handle more on screen action, but that's the problem with trailers isn't it? you don't really get a feel for the gameplay until you get hands on with the finished product. Anyway, when it came to Microsoft's exclusives and their plans for future IPs I wasn't exactly put on the edge of my seat by some of what was on show, Ryse: Son of Rome looks like an attempt to fuse the now tired tropes attached to the post Modern Warfare FPS genre, with that of an action game creating somewhat of an "action warfare" hybrid, but instead using ancient Rome as the setting. It's an interesting concept but the execution looks a little off IMO, and lacking that "future of gaming" factor the devs were so keen to repeatedly mention this year, QTE driven combat, forced linear progression, giant set pieces (sigh) well we didn't really think we'd seen the last of them, right?... but do we really need more games with giant set pieces yanking our heads out of the action like attention seeking infants? Apparently so otherwise us gamers might get bored of the constant generic gameplay... IDK, maybe it was just a bad first impression for me, but you know what they say first impressions count for everything.
We also got to see a "Halo trailer" (or better yet a short teaser to generate hype) but hey I'm a Halo fan, althugh I honestly think the series peaked at 3 and I never really did get hooked on 343's take on the series in Halo 4, but if they can make the franchise as relevant as the original Halo: combat evolved then count me in, however I just don't see that happening but Id be happy to be proven wrong.
I will say that if there was one Xbox One exclusive game that surprised me it was "Titanfall" Mechs have always held a special place in my heart so an online FPS with large pilotable mechs running around is a dream come true, it's unfortunate then that it's an Xbox One exclusive, something which is still very odd to me because the game is primarily an online FPS, so even after having purchased the game full price gamers still won't honestly be able to play it unless they are paying customers of Xbox Live (actually you know I've never understood why so many gamers are willing to pay for Xbox Live when they bought the right to play the game online along with the disc, oh well so long as everyone willingly paying Microsoft will keep charging I guess) if it comes too it I'll consider potentially missing out on this great looking game as my way of standing up for my ideals.
I'm almost sure by now some of you probably think me anti Microsoft, right? Well again I assure you that is not the case. I'll tell you now I had every intention of purchasing Microsoft's yet to be announced console before the official reveal, but due to the aforementioned actions of this one very ambitious company I have become incredibly conflicted, you see I still would very much like to purchase the Xbox One once it is released, but I can't in good conscience do so, and that is because I whole heartedly disagree with Microsofts current philosophy, sure they may have gone back on their plans for draconian DRM, always on and 24 hour checkins, but the very fact that they tried to implement such arguably awful features has left a bad taste in my mouth, and to make matters worse we find out shortly after that Microsoft is also in cahoots with the NSA, a notorious data mining company. Coupling this new found knowledge along with the fact that the Kinect 2 "will always be listening" oh I mean except when it's turned off and only listening for key words... Yeah, really not so sure I believe that one, but hey I'm a sceptic by nature.
I can recall someone once saying something along the lines of "why do you have a problem with a company spying on you if you have nothing to hide?" this is kind of a stupid question in my opinion but I'll humour it for the sake of this blog. Well you know what, I can't speak for everyone but I kind of like my privacy, many of us are aware that we are already being spied on, on social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook but look how that's turned out, people say something stupid but innocent or make a harmless joke, and then they get dragged off prison for it. Imagine for example that you're just sitting watching TV or playing a game and then you happen to make an innocent joke about a certain topic of subject matter only to find out your Kinect has recorded what you said and Microsoft then passes it on to the authorities, you could potentially end up getting slapped with a court hearing because of a petty misunderstanding that arose in the confines of your own home, pretty ridiculous I know but it's frighteningly all too possible the way things are heading.
It is honestly more than likely that if Kinect 2 were to be used by Microsoft and the NSA for data mining that whatever gets recorded would just be used to tailor ads to individual customers, not that this takes away from the fact that a company is spying on it's consumers, but it's better than having to be careful of what one says in their own home.
I just want to announce before I end this blog that at the time of writing I am still very much on the fence in regards to purchasing the Xbox One, I have mentioned many reasons why I am currently apposed the Xbox One but most likely Microsoft once having released the console with strive to create a strong gaming community well into this new gen, the issue here then is them having to regain my trust, or on the flip side it may be I who has become disillusioned with a company who wants to be at the forefront of change.
Well anyway, I hope you understand my reasons for being cautious of purchasing the Xbox One and I also hope that no matter how much of a fan you may be of Microsoft that you at least take on board some of the points I made, and not just pass them off as ramblings of a "fanboy".
Sorry for repeating myself but I just want to stress this point one final time, I'm not anti Microsoft or pro the other two, and if you still wish to purchase the Xbox One then by all means please do so, I simply wanted to voice my opinions and concerns and hopefully make others who are not so much in the know, a little more wise to the situation.
Thanks again for reading my blog, as always if you want to add something or disagree with any of my points please feel free to leave a comment.