As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been a two/three console guy. First I had the NES; that was an easy choice. Then, I started to double up: SNES/Genesis. N64/PlayStation/Dreamcast. PS2/Xbox/Gamecube. PS3/Xbox 360. If you count the PC as a gaming console, go ahead and toss that in there as well with nearly every generation.
The point is, I’ve always enjoyed owning as many consoles as possible because I enjoy experiencing all that games have to offer. Take the current generation, for instance. If I only kept my Xbox 360 and never picked up a PS3, I would never have been able to enjoy Killzone 2 & 3, the inFamous games, Gran Turismo 5, the Uncharted series, Heavy Rain, all those wonderful JRPGs (like Disgaea 4 and Ni No Kuni) that you can’t get anywhere else, and countless indie titles like Flower, Journey, Guacamelee, etc. Flip that around, and if I only owned a PS3, I’d be out of luck with the Halo games, Gears of War, the Forza series, and yes, even those Kinect games that everyone seems to hate, but I enjoy every now and then (I’ve lost more weight doing Dance Central than you would believe).
It has always been great owning multiple consoles, but I think I have to break up with Microsoft…as least as far as consoles go. It’s been a great two generation experiment, MS, but it’s time for me to move on. I’ve always prided myself on being open-minded when it comes to the fanboy wars. For example, even though I’m a PC guy, and as much lip as I give to Apple products, I can still admit when they are better in certain aspects, and will even suggest them to certain people. The same goes for consoles; I love them all. There isn’t one that’s “better” in my mind, they all have their pros and cons, and are best enjoyed together.
The decision to drop the Xbox One from my next-gen plans at first did not come easily. Before any confirmation of Xbox One’s DRM measures, I really did consider it. I love that the Xbox One is so media focused. I don’t currently have cable in my household, and if the Xbox One can deliver all my TV and movie needs in addition to giving me games like Halo and Forza 5, then it would be hard to not go with that device.
Even after I found out about Xbox One’s always-online requirement and used game restrictions, a small (but dwindling) part of me still considered one. I like the Xbox brand. I love my Xbox, and I love my Xbox 360. I love Microsoft’s first party games. My favorite genre under RPGs is racing games, and Forza is my favorite racing series. Forza is a system seller to me, as is any of the Halo games. I love the way the controller feels compared to the Dualshock. They’re great systems, and they more than served all my gaming needs.
The most important thing was going into E3, I would have been SHOCKED if Sony did not also reveal some DRM plans of their own at the big show. That would have made the decision harder, and it would have at least forced me to consider buying both sometime down the line.
As it stands, Sony did what I thought was the unthinkable, and announced they would impose no such restrictions. Basically, Sony “won” E3, and my money, by announcing they will not change anything. I don’t think I have ever heard so many people cheer for what amounts basically to nothing.
That’s a shame, because so much of Microsoft’s E3 presentation wowed me. Ryse looked BADASS; I mean seriously, it knocked me back. Spark looked like something I would lose hours to. And of course, Forza 5, part of my favorite racing series of all time, looked spectacular. It’s truly a shame that I won’t be able to experience these games.
The most upsetting thing about Xbox One’s new restrictions is not that they will make gaming more difficult. In all honesty, having to log online at least once every 24 hours is not something that I will even notice; it’s something I already do on a daily basis. As it stands, my 360 (and PC, for that matter) is essentially already an “always online” machine (barring a few ISP outages here and there). The difference here is that it’s my choice to keep it online at all times. If I choose one day to unplug the RJ45 from the back of the console for whatever reason, I will still be able to play games on my 360. If for whatever reason that ISP outage lasted more than 24 hours, I’d still be able to play my games. I would be blisteringly pissed off without internet access for a whole day, but hey, at least I can fire up Red Dead Redemption or something to occupy my time (or the reality of it; I rarely have free time to begin with due to having kids). With the Xbox One, I now don’t have those options if I’m faced with a crippling internet outage.
More confusing are the restrictions on games:
Friend: “Hey Tony, Forza looks sweet, can I borrow it for a few days?”
Me: “Sorry man, can’t do that. If I give you this game, then I have to GIVE it to you. Oh and btw, you’ve only been on my friends list for 15 days, so it wouldn’t work anyway.”
Or how about the fact that games can only be given away once?
Friend: “Hey Tony, thanks for giving me this game, but it wasn’t all that great. You can have it back.”
Me: “What am I supposed to do with it? It’s essentially a coaster now.”
But forget all that. Again, it’s MS’s choice to institute these policies and regardless of how much bitching I do, I’m sure people will still buy up the Xbox One in droves (as is evident by the fact that Amazon’s pre-orders sold out in one day). That’s their prerogative, and you know what? Why not? The Xbox One looks like an amazing system despite all this. Let’s focus on the fact that all games must be installed onto the 500GB hard drive (non-removable). Dudes….it’s 500GB; not INFINITY. That’s a very finite amount of physical space; what’s basically happening now is MS is also telling me how many games I can actually own at any given time since sooner rather than later, if my Xbox One collection is going to look anything like my Xbox 360 collection, I am going to run out of space. Then I have to start removing games just to make space for new ones, and it becomes a never ending shuffle as I procure more games; games that I will probably never sell back or give away, because once I do, it’s done forever.
I know, I know….First World Problems, right? Truthfully, it is. There are more important things out there to worry about. I mean let’s face it; if this business with the Xbox One is the biggest concern in my life, then I lead a pretty damn good life and clearly don’t have much to complain about. The point is, the Xbox One has become that overbearing, controlling, high maintenance significant other; the one that always gets on your nerves, always puts you down, and is always trying to make your decisions for you.
Microsoft has the right to do whatever they want with the Xbox One. They don’t owe me anything, and while this is a consumer driven business, they have the right to make any choice they want, no matter how much we consumers perceive these choices as “anti-consumer.” The only thing I can do if I don’t like what I see, is to not buy the product and move on. Which, as I’ve said multiple times already, is really such a shame.
As Don Mattrick put it today, if you don’t like the Xbox One’s policies (or if you don’t have internet), stick with the Xbox 360. But what that comes out sounding like is: “Hey if you’re not with us, then don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Get off our next-gen ship.” Well Don, technically you’re not wrong. I will stick with my Xbox 360, but Sony is getting my next-gen dollars.
Thanks for a great 12 years, Xbox. It really was a lot of fun, and you gave me some of the best gaming moments I ever had. Because of you I’ve gotten the chance to work with some really awesome people in the business with some fantastic games. If anything, you gave me Halo and Forza, and I’ll be more sad to see those two franchises leave my gaming library than anything else.
Maybe somewhere down the line if you decide to loosen up a bit with your restrictions, I might consider getting back together; but as of now, I can’t be with something that’s going to order me around with no respect and treat me like I stole something before I ever even purchased the system.