This is probably the last time I’ll post on this topic for a while, because I’m getting a liiiiittle sick of the topic, but I figured I should update you guys on my thoughts on Microsoft’s shock reversal of their used games and DRM policies I was discussing last time. I’m still neither a Sony or Microsoft fangirl, although I have pretty much always been more of an Xbox fan this generation. I’m choosing my console solely on what I want out of it and I don’t think there are really any right or wrong answers here. These are just my personal views on that matter, you may totally disagree with me and that’s cool too!
First, a note on what I think of the uproar that’s been going on in the wake of E3 that led to Microsoft’s now-legendary change in direction. There’s no doubt that things have been a bit crazy in the past couple couple of weeks, with people reacting, people reacting to the people reacting and people reacting to those people reacting and so on. No matter how well meaning (or not) all of those people were, I think angry reactions or overly heated debate are obscuring the real facts at hand and just adding further fuel to the fire. Obviously I’m not saying everyone should just shut up and get on with things. It’s the next-gen! This is exciting stuff! I think we should discuss! And to be honest, I think the fact that people are getting so worked up, no matter what their stance is, is a great thing in many ways. It means gamers are passionate about gaming. Sure there might be a lot of unhelpful ‘OMG, you suck ballz, you iz such an XBOX FANBOY! LOL!’ going around, but there will always be stuff like that going around. It’s the internet, you know? Personally, I generally just try to filter through that. What can you do but try to add your opinion to the debate in as reasonable a way as you can? Anyway, writing ‘YOU KNOW NOT OF WHAT YOU SPEAK, SOMANYKILLZ743. ALSO READ A BOOK YOU #$#*$(@&’ is pretty much just throwing an extra log on that massive unnecessary bonfire that’s about to engulf my backyard. So basically, my opinion on this is, everyone’s entitled to their opinions and my advice if you start feeling that all-consuming rage, whoever it’s directed at or no matter how justified, take a deep breath, stop, drop and roll and then go play some Last of Us or whatever you’re playing (and no, I haven’t played that yet so no spoilers please – I know I’m preaching calmness, but I will kill you if you give me even the slightest hint). Now on with my rant – just kidding, there will be none of that here!
So what do I think of Microsoft dropping its controversial policies? Well, I definitely have mixed feelings about it. While I was definitely not yet in favour of Microsoft’s policy as things stood, what I wanted was more info, not this abrupt about-face. I do admire the fact that they had the guts to retract their policies and listen to feedback, but Microsoft may well have significantly weakened their console. They’ve implied themselves on numerous occasions that they’ve based their whole console around always on features. Now it’s a more expensive, but also more similar console to the PS4 than it was before.
I didn’t like the policies as they were, sure, but I don’t think they’d even attempted to explain them yet. As I said, what I wanted more than anything from them was just an explanation. I wanted them to actually try to sell the Xbox One to me and not just that stuff about integrated live TV and sports, things I couldn’t care less about. Making a lot of noise, waving your arms around and pointing at your awesome new features isn’t enough if you’re introducing potentially game-changing policies . You have to address the press directly and answer concerns. I think they could have said that the Xbox One was just like a very much improved version of Steam and I think there would have been a market for that. ANY coherent message probably wouldn’t have caused such an outrage.
Yes, the crazy reactions to the Xbox One’s ‘revolutionary’ features were bad, but I think things would have blown over a bit once they had explained themselves more clearly and maybe showed off a little about the tech and just generally been a bit more forthcoming about their policies. They were an easy target because they were coming across as evasive and money-grabbing, whereas I really think they did truly believe in their own vision and as I said before, I would have liked to see it explained to me. They were only ever defensive and contradictory, never pointing out the advantages of which there were actually some.
Personally, I thought the turn-around was just too preemptive. I think they still had a chance to win back the hearts and minds of the public on their own terms. I understand their fear, but they still had a few months and considering the momentum that had built up against them in only 2 weeks, I think they could easily turn in around in a few months. People have pre-ordered the PS4, there’s nothing you can do about that, but that’s not a death sentence. There was still time to change people’s minds and get them to buy the Xbox One. Basically I think it’s been a PR war and Microsoft has had their asses kicked, but I don’t think it was time for them to back down just yet. It’s still relatively early days yet. Maybe we just aren’t ready for a digital future yet, but how are we supposed to make that decision on a vague unexplained policies and bad press? I may have hated Microsoft’s policies anyway, but I would have liked to have heard more about it.
At the moment my console of choice is still the PS4 (although I’m still holding off on pre-ordering until I hear more). I don’t need all the extra features offered by the Xbox One – though they’re nice, I just can’t see myself using them much. I use my consoles for gaming and that’s pretty much it. Throw in recording functions and social features and that’s all I need really. Therefore the better specs of the PS4 and the lower price are still tipping me towards the PS4. Also, the indie dev support with the PS4 is nice too. I would love to be able to check out awesome indie games on the market on my console. Phil Fish, the creator of indie game Fez, had this to say about the Xbox One and PS4:
PS4 seems to be doing everything right. It’s too early to tell how everything is going to unfold but their heart definitely seems to be in the right place. Which is a weird thing to say when talking about giant monolithic corporation, but there’s a handful of people working at Sony today who are really trying to do some good. And whether or not I would develop for it comes down to how the platform holder treats me. With Microsoft they’ve made it painfully clear they don’t want my ilk on their platform. I can’t even self-publish there. Whereas on PS4, I can. It’s that simple. Microsoft won’t let me develop for their console. But Sony will.
In terms of exclusives, I don’t care too much to be honest. I like the ones on the PS4 so that’s fine with me, but I envisage the same thing happening to the next generation of consoles as this one. Developers will start off all saying their games will be exclusive, but they won’t actually stick to it. After the initial launch, they’ll probably just be back to old habits (which is good for us). Does anyone actually remember that Assassin’s Creed was supposed to be a PS3 exclusive? Yup, true story.
So I think everyone should just stay calm and pick their console and in the end I expect that this hoo-rah will be all for nothing anyway. Like with this generation of consoles, despite Microsoft initially taking the lead, sales actually started evening out by the end of the cycle and with as monolithic corporate giants, I think both Sony and Microsoft will be ok. Ultimately, it’s just a games console and considering the fact that exclusives hardly ever stay exclusive anymore, I don’t think it’ll ultimately matter too much in the end. Whether you’re an Xbox fanboy/girl or a Sony fanboy/girl or neither or you just hate all of them, take comfort in the fact there’s an awesome slew of games coming up whatever platform you’re on and soon everyone will be so knee-deep in their awesome next-gen gaming experiences most people (of course extreme fans will always exist) will be saying ‘the console war? Shut the hell up and stop bothering me! I’m playing Battlefield 4!’