It’s been an intense E3 in the year of 2013, which shall be known as The Great Smackdown. By now, everyone will have heard of the horror stories that circulate around Microsoft and the Xbox One. There is vagueness about how used games are handled. Even though someone got fired for saying the console would be always-on, it’s basically always-on; they’re just not calling it that. Consumers will be tied to their region, which destroys imports. People that have no internet access have been told by Microsoft execs to sit on it, but in nicer words. Things like these go on and on. Still, it’s only the most recent news item, taken straight from the Xbox page, which startled me the most.
On the preorder page for Xbox One, a sizable disclaimer mentions something that could only be perceived in a nightmarish world. This page confirms that Xbox One will only be available in 21 countries at launch. These lucky few nations are comprised mostly of affluent territories, which truly nails down the elite aspect of the next generation console. Now, I’m part of that group, but that doesn’t make it any less of an issue. Just because I’m part of the in-crowd, doesn’t mean I like in-crowds. In fact, it’s one of the things I despise the most. I just feel bad for anyone who is forced to watch from the sidelines. Gamespot editor Kevin VanOrd succinctly said it best in his Tweet: “The Witcher 3 is being developed by a Polish studio for […] the Xbox One that will not work in Poland.” It sounds like utter madness that Microsoft would, in one instance, market the Xbox One worldwide, but then only release it in select territories. This already puts them leagues behind of their competitor.
Let’s take it back a step and go back to the Microsoft conference. Before all this madness, the Xbox One actually had an impressive conference. More than just that; it had a blockbuster presentation that made me regret not getting on board with the next gen console. It started by showing Sony favorite Metal Gear Solid on their console, in an open world, rich in variety as well. After that, the carpet was rolled out for a ton of stunning exclusives. Crytek’s Ryse: Son of Rome takes a stab at God of War. In Forza 5, the cloud will make artificial intelligence adapt completely organically by recording the player’s style. Rare is finally bringing back Killer Instinct, while it stays true to the series. It will even throw in a slight free-to-play appeal. To save on time, let’s just list all the damn exclusives that are coming to Xbox One, because there are just that many:
- Ryse: Son of Rome
- Forza 5
- Max: Curse of the Brotherhood
- Quantum Break
- Project Spark
- Dead Rising 3
- Crimson Dragon
- Black Tusk IP
- Halo 5
Most of these titles sound exciting, at the very least. Yes, Dead Risng is now tied to Microsoft and yes, the Crimson Dragon title is a nod to the Panzer Dragoon series. Yes, there’s a grand new Halo planned. Hell, even Project Spark showed off Smartglass functionality that could potentially boost the interest in the service. In this game, players create worlds on the fly with a few simple commands, after which they can create their own rules and play however they’d like. It looks incredibly easy to do and high in quality to play. These aren’t simple blocks or tiles being put down, but crisp textured worlds, generated in a minute’s time. Even Titanfall looks absolutely stunning for a first person shooter, as it infuses mech suits in a way that diversifies combat for man versus machine, without one side truly being overpowered. It also has that distinct instant action and arcade points style of Call of Duty, which is a good trait, as this is what the world’s largest game excels at.
The one that really clenched me to my seat was Below. It’s a game from Capybara Games, which you’ll undoubtedly know from Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery EP. Moreover, it retains the same art style from that title and brings back Jim Gunthrie as a composer. At this point in the conference, I was bummed that it’s impossible for me to own an Xbox One. That’s how impressed I was. Even though I can’t get one, I wish I could, because the line-up and versatile nature of the console is just that good.
So, back to present times: How can you let this happen, Microsoft? How can you turn around the dreary situation of that horrible reveal event with an impeccable E3 press conference, only to continue imposing horrible policies? Instead of dwelling on these for too long, I propose we immediately switch to simple solutions: Drop the DRM.
You can even make a slogan out of it and spell it in a cool way, for the kids: “Drop Da DRM – We’re going triple D – Drop Da DRM!” Xbox One will release disc games, so have people enjoy their disc titles, without having to connect online. You won’t have to lobby for countries to increase their online presence or issue apologies to those that can’t purchase your product. People without internet won’t be passive-aggressively told to shove it. Temporary server issues won’t cripple gamers worldwide for games they’ve already paid for. There are no downsides with the optional state of an online connection or authentication. Just this: Drop Da DRM. Say it with me; it’s so rhythmical: Drop Da DRM!
If you can turn a skeptical soul into a dedicated fan overnight with this powerful line-up, you know you have a good product. The Xbox One is a good product. It has the power, it has the games, it has the support and it has the variety. Now, it only needs the freedom. It needs you, Microsoft. It needs you to be cool. Be cool, Microsoft. You used to be cool. Just be cool.