Well.. Today has been an exhausting experience. I honestly did not think that I would get this involved in the discussions around Microsoft today but it sucked me in like cheap daytime drama.
The reaction from gamers was… Well, lets be honest, it was exactly what we expected. We all knew that Microsoft was going to focus on the multimedia aspects of Xbox, but with Sony putting their hardware foot forward and their software foot at E3, was it the right move? Knowing that it’s the gamers who will pay top dollar and it’s the soccer moms who wait for the family-friendly discounts, was it smart to talk about how cool it is that you can watch Football and Skype with Grandma at the same time?
In the eyes of gamers I don’t see any other momentum as large as what Sony is holding onto right now. I do feel that Microsoft made a bit of a mistake to focus so strongly on the multimedia features. I know that they will come out strong at E3. With 15+ games planned for the launch window it’s a strong possibility that they will simply give up the E3 stage to a roster of developers. At this point it would be the best hail marry they can offer to win back some angry fans. Admittedly most gamers have the attention span of a gnat, so a live demonstration of Respawns new exclusive title and another empty promise from Square for a Final Fantasy on Xbox One will probably calm the crowds a bit.
Unfortunately I think that Microsoft let this event get away from them though. Instead of answering concerns directly they pressed on with the usual, “just trust us” mantra; the same mantra that promised a continuous stream of exclusive games on Xbox and Xbox 360. With so many dark clouds hanging over them, Microsoft had a laundry list of issues to make good on with their core fans and they did not. They did not address the issue of always online completely, or the questions of used games and rented games being playable. Again the responses were cloudy but the confirmed rumor seems to be that a game may have a workaround for an entire family of profiles under one roof to authenticate a game, but used games or games that travel to a a friends’ house may require a fee to be paid.
Microsoft is suspiciously tight-lipped about these hot button topics that are taking on a persona of their own online. I could see a possible future where Xbox LIVE behaves like Steam, allowing you to download any game you purchase (physical or digital) to any console that you authenticate to. But there is also a strong chance that Microsoft will use an ambiguous handling charge ($10?) per authentication to discourage proliferation of your LIVE account. I just wish they would come out and say this instead of letting the rage build online…
Having recently built a new PC I know that it will be one of my platforms. I know that WiiU may become my secondary console, after a price drop and some games are released for it. At this point my slot for top console is still open but Microsoft has a very steep hill to climb for me, a sentiment that I feel is probably shared by a lot of Xbox 360 owners out there. I do wish them the best of luck at E3 and hope that they step aside and show me at least 1 feature that I will actually use if I purchase their console. So far the convenience of not having to hit the SOURCE button on my TV remote to switch to my Xbox is not worth all of the shackles that come with that package. I need more…