It has been quite some time since I last posted anything here, and I apologize. This new Xbox One craze, however, kind of forcing me to get back into the writing game as I care deeply about this issue
First of all, if you haven’t heard what is going on, here is a quick recap: the new Xbox, called the Xbox One, has features that basically cripples the used game market, has a mandatory DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) system, mandatory installs, a Kinect sensor that is forced on you whether you want it or not, and a crap-load of other restrictions. But the most important thing is basically the killing game ownership. In the next generation, you will no longer buy games, you will lease them, and if you don’t check in with the company over the internet after a certain amount of time, you cannot play! That is right! You cannot play a single player game without checking in with Microsoft first and then after every 24 hours! And if the company goes under or decides it wants out of the console business, there goes your game collection with it.
Now, some of you might think that most of these are no big deal, after all, PC gamers have “enjoyed” a similar treatment for a long time. It is essentially not much different than, say Steam. The problem is that many of us chose to play on home consoles precisely because we did not want to go through the hassle and regular ordeal PC gamers has gotten used to. Instead, we chose consoles, an easy and elegant system that was focused on games. We liked popping in a disc (cartridge, memory stick, whatever) and play instantly in the comfort of our living rooms, no hassle, no install, no DRM, just play. We also liked lending our favorite games to friends and family so they could enjoy it (perhaps even making them buy the game after we finally had enough and wanted it back :) and even sell it, often using the money we got from the sale to buy new games we otherwise couldn’t afford. It was a simple system that worked for over 30 years since probably the earliest Atari systems. And not just from a gamer’s standpoint, but for the other side as well. It was good for the publishers and game companies. Historically, console games almost always outsold their PC counterparts many times over, making the console gaming market far superior to PCs financially. But now, with the new game consoles on the horizon (I use plural because I am sure the Playstation 4 will be no different), the console industry as we know it for over 30 years is essentially dead. As thing are looking now, nothing we loved playing on home consoles in the past will exist in the future.
Video Game Consoles
1977 - 2013
Video Game Consoles
1977 - 2013
What prompted this change you might ask, and the answer is simple (and I think you know it): Video game companies got greedy, wanting more and more. Selling millions of games and making a killer profit just wasn’t enough any more. They wanted a cut from the used games market. They wanted a say in who we can lend our games to. And, in general, they wanted bigger control over us so they could make sure we play by their rules (which, by the way, they are entitled to change at any time). Don't mind DRMs are a colossal failure on PCs. They not only not prevent piracy but actually make the lives of honest players a living hell. But, aside from all this, in this crazy race for bigger profit and control, one important thing got overlooked: the fact that they, the companies, exists because we, the consumers, allow them to and not the other way around! If a company says “Bend over!,” you don’t have to reply with “How far should I spread my cheeks?” You have the right to say, “Fuck you! You exists because I allow it, yet you treat me like a cow you can milk whenever you want. Well, no more. No! NO!”
If you too, like many of us gamers out there, don’t like the direction things are going right now, you CAN make a difference! You are a consumer and you vote with your wallet. If you are dissatisfied with a service, you are entitled to back out if it and send a clear signal to the company that you do not approve of what they are doing; and, I think it is time to do just that. Vote with your wallet and DO NOT BUY an Xbox One (or PlayStation 4 if they follow suit). I know it is not easy. We all love games. I have every single Halo game (most of them collector’s editions), and every Halo novel, art book, and comic book that ever existed. You can imagine how much I like that franchise. But I care about my hobby in general more than I care about a few exclusive titles. And if the price to make my voice heard is not playing the next Halo game then so be it.
Of course, you can always just bend over like a good little sheep, but then don’t complain if the grass they feed you taste bitter. Companies can go only as far as we allow them, and I say it is time to let our voice heard: “That is enough!”
Update (June 19th, 2013): So, it seems the world-wide public outcry over Microsoft's totally anti-consumer policies found its way into some corporate ears. Or, pre-orders were lower than expected. Either way, I am glad to say: we did it! As of today, Microsoft completely reversed their list of completely BS restrictions, and Xbox One now looks like a real console instead of a friggin' PC. Now, did this decision changed my mind about Microsoft? Well, yes and no. For one, I give them kudos for seemingly listening to us and will actually consider buying an Xbox One now, but it will take a long time for me to forget the shenanigans they were trying to pull on us. Anyway, today is a great day for games all over the world, it is when we as gamers changed some bad to the better.
Consumers: 1, Big, bad corporation: 0.