Microsoft’s recent exhibition of their latest contribution to the home owner’s entertainment market is certainly showing to have caused quite a stir regarding the many, many patents associated with the company and/or its product that are seeming to be ripped from 1984.
I’m not writing this to join the (quite justified) masses in condemning this intrusive innovation. But instead to discuss everything else that is getting swept under the rug by all the calls of patents that violate privacy and overly invasive DRM.
I confess I didn’t watch the stream live because I did not to be buried in the hype building and all those subtle cues that build up your anticipation with energetic pumping-up music and sexy minimalist lighting of the black and green stage (also I live in Australia so it means I’d be awake at an ungodly hour). But I did watch and rewatch the unveiling of the console over the last few days.
It sickened me.
I sat there for ages while “blah blah ONE, blah blah TV blah SPORTS blah XBOX ONE” just poured out of the speakers and my monitor, or from my television when I streamed it via PS3. And its not like this is some cheap filler, oh no this is premium costed chaff in the way of my peek at the first next-gen gaming console (lets just forget about the Wii-U for the moment, if you’re one of the few people who are still actively aware of it). Really what I saw was load of fiddly extras on a powerful console, not cheap ones though. That instant-switching feature for example, totally irrelevant to most gamers; who plans to constantly hot-switch between a TV show and an online session of CoD/BF/MoH, when they can watch it later via DVR or a streaming service? Its probably one of the most expensive innovations for gaming consoles ever developed and its big attractive point is being able to stop doing something and start doing something else with only a few seconds of delay. Are loading screens really considered the devil’s work to the XBOX team?
“After he bought WCW, Ted Turner called me and said, "Guess what, Vince, I'm in the 'rasslin' business!" and I said, "That's nice, Ted, I'm in the sports entertainment business".”-Vince McMahon
This quote from a man of self-made million in the entertainment sector pretty much sums up the shift of perspective for Microsoft with their incoming console launch. They are no longer in the gaming business, they are in the home entertainment business. At least that’s what business savvy types who business suits and have full time jobs and play golf instead of video games in their spare time say. I don’t agree with them, I don’t think Microsoft can simply step back from games to become a multi-media empire in a few short months. Sure they have the money to start something so massive, but its more than just money, it’s about being good at entertaining.
Sure the only thing that we saw indicating this shift was some major endorsements from Steven Spielberg, the NFL and NBA, but its clearly a starting point for them. HALO the Series will make a ridiculous amount of money back if it airs publically rather than just the XBOX ONE userbase and they know this will happen. It will get them saying “oh we really did well with HALO, why not make this a part of our growing empire and start other productions based on our franchises” and they can do that, they’re allowed to because there is no law saying that they can’t diversify. A corporation has every right to expand its interests, in fact it’s a good thing that they do so. But its only good if the corporation is making good decisions and not alienating its traditional customer demographic while seeking new ones and further investing in the existing customer base through alternative means.
Normally I’d be appreciative of this, but I don’t like Microsoft, I’ve used Windows all my life, and the words “reliable”, “user friendly” and “good” don’t really come into it. MS pushes its products out as fast it can to get that money they so desperately want. I don’t think carrying this mentality into entertainment is a good idea. It’s a very corporate “Greed is Good” idea and its bleeding into so many parts of the games industry that it needs to be seriously addressed, or we could just wait for Valve to wave its hand and do its usual brand of magic and hope that its more than just Half-Life 3, but reversing these trends in our beloved past time.
Myself and others have also noticed that on the social media website, or abridged edition of the internet as some would call it, Reddit, that there has been a sudden upswing in positive comments on Microsoft and the ONE from new accounts or older accounts with no comment or post histories. Even moreso there is a trend of highlighting this “reputation management” from other newly created accounts, which have been linked to pro-Sony posts, resulting in what could actually be the first known case of a proxy-cold war between the viral marketing teams of two competing companies.
This is the first real battle for the newest generation in the Eternal Console War, and its not even being fought by fans, the people who like this stuff and support it. For Microsoft its not about performance or design, its about either trying to recover from a mediocre press conference and a crippling series of leaks, or trying to be the bigger monkey and throw more poo at the competitor as they can.
For Sony its about generating positive interest in their console without having to actually give concrete details that may or may not be similar to those features in the ONE that are already pushing it into the position of “Least Desirable Console of All Time”, its about looking good without anyone being able to look at you, and if they aren’t doing that, they’re going to try and beat Microsoft at the throwing poo game.
Is it really worth committing money to support a company that is so desperate? Is the ONE really going to make XBOX the household name? Is this online confrontation between PR firms only going to cut the few prospects of the XBOX ONE being successful and potentially paint the PlayStation 4 with a similar stain of desperation, failure and excessive intervention from uninformed executives before E3?
Despite not wanting to be biased and trying to maintain even handedness between sony and Microsoft this isn’t my formal opinion, this is pretty much my initial thoughts on the PS4 presentation at E3:
We got a look at the competition to the “XBONE”, the PS4 in brief, allows us to share games, by just moving physical possession of the disc, there’s even a video explaining it in case somebody forgot how to do this archaic process.
Their presentation featured games as its central premise.
We have also heard a complete lack of home surveillance issues from the PS4 which is also a good sign that the NSA are all likely XBONE fans. Also that stain of desperation looks pretty much non-existence on Sony’s side, considering the sheer number of shots they were taking at Microsoft its obvious their wait and see approach is going to trump Microsoft’s leak embarrassing details while coming off as completely out of touch approach. I’m calling it as a win for Kazuo Hirai and friends this round, maybe in the 9th gen Microsoft will take the lead.
Ryan Speirs, NoobFeed