Monday, May 27, 2013

One Box to Rule the Dull

So, this past week saw a seemingly endless deluge of negative press for Microsoft's reveal of their next foray into console gaming, XBOX One.  

Let's just be clear - that criticism was wholly deserved.

Microsoft has made it clear that they want to rule your living room.  According to their own press conference, you can seamlessly switch between playing a game and watching television!  Oh, and you can watch television!  And sports!  And Halo (for five minutes)...and TELEVISION!!!

What Microsoft has done is basically create the world's most expensive CableBox One, capable of doing everything you can already do with another remote, and all for the sake of being your One source for entertainment in the home.

Unfortunately, they have essentially doomed their product to obscurity of the Virtual Boy variety.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news (actually, when it comes to XBOX, I love it), but people can already do everything that the XBOX One does for much cheaper, without the nonsense of having to pay a fee to play used games, and without having to have a connection to the Internet with your previous machine.

Now, I've never been a fan of the XBOX.  I have always felt it to be an extraneous bit of machinery, about as interesting to me as the Neo Geo.  It's not that the machine, itself, is bad - it's just that there's nothing on it that I want to play.

The Kinect, I will admit, is a very cool piece of machinery, and that it's now going to be standard is very "Next Gen," to use the nonsense term used to describe anything newer than the current model of products.  It was, however, poorly integrated into gameplay over the course of its late-stage lifespan, and really functions as more of a motion controller...for your television.

Prior to owning an XBOX 360, I would constantly decry its worthlessness.  I ran into some extra cash, however, and ended purchasing one with every intention of falling in love with it.

To date, I own fewer than ten games for the system, and about once a week, I go to the website to check on any new releases for the system, only to be disappointed.

XBOX has built up a fan base that consists almost wholly of 18-35-year-old males (mostly white) who enjoy nothing more than cracking open some Nattie Ice, firing up their bongs, and reclining in their beanbags or faux leather sofas to play an EA sports game, shoot some guns, or...not much else.  

In fact, I'd go further to say that the system is almost entirely aimed only at the American audience, as few other countries have hopped on the XBOX bandwagon.  Hell, in Japan, you can barely give the damned things away, much less expect them to purchase one, and Japan is very likely the culture in which gaming is most integrated into daily life.

Yet another revelation, this past week, was that the XBOX One would be region-locked, meaning that only software purchase from the same country as that of the XBOX console will work with the machine.  I'm not really certain why Region-Locking is such a big thing, these days (as Nintendo has hopped on that stupid bandwagon, as well), but there's really no point in locking the XBOX One - few others have any plans to purchase it.  

I wasn't really hoping for something new; rather, I was expecting to be pleasantly smug when it came to their big reveal.  I did not, however, expect to be dumbfounded by how off the mark Microsoft would be when it comes to gaming.

Given the direction of both Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo looks to be the only company actually dedicated to putting out actual games, and simply dedicating Apps to deal with other types of media.  

As someone who grew up through the video game era, I got into playing games with Nintendo, and it looks like I'm going to be sticking with them, in the long run.