Microsoft are Complete Failures
Disclaimer for Microsoft fans: I don’t like Sony or Nintendo either; my only loyalty is to quality.
Microsoft has again festooned us with their prattling about their new console, the Xbox One, which they revealed on Tuesday. Little of the conference was about games. It was all about tacked-on online services, television streaming, DRM, and marketing claptrap. They want it to be a multimedia wonder machine like such luminaries as the 3DO and the Philips CD-i.
The problems with the Xbox One are manifold: It needs to be connected to Microsoft’s servers every day, it charges money to play used games equal to the cost of the games themselves, all games must be installed to the hard drive and need to be activated online to play, games are linked to your account or you have to pay the aforementioned fee, it will cease to operate at all whenever Microsoft decides to stop supporting it, and they’ll probably ram the useless Kinect down our throats. Most of these are hideous DRM measures intended to fight piracy and used game sales, but they end up causing severe harm to legitimate buyers as well. If you didn’t see the conference, sources for all of these harms are easily available on Google.
1. It needs to be connected to Microsoft’s servers every day
No, it’s not as bad as requiring a constant connection, much like how getting gangrene in your foot isn’t as bad as getting it in your head or chest. But the insult is there, the chains are there, and those of us with poor internet service will be screwed once again. Microsoft cares not a fig for poor people or those living outside of big cities. We are expendable in their quest.
2. It charges money to play used games equal to the cost of the games themselves
I don’t have any love for GameStop but the incessant whining from big game developers that sales of used games are killing their business is like when George W. Bush said the terrorists hate us because of our freedoms. The hubris and greed of the wealthy and powerful continues to grow into more shameful heights.
3. All games must be installed to the hard drive and need to be activated online to play
More shackles to make sure gamers don’t have too much leeway in how they spend their time. Those with game collections bigger than the inevitably tiny and overpriced hard drive the Xbox One will come with can rest easy knowing that they will waste many hours of their life swapping space instead of just playing games off the disc that already contains all the information. Plus, to run them the first time, you have to tether yourself to Microsoft’s servers once again.
4. Games are linked to your account or you have to pay the aforementioned fee
This is just Microsoft rubbing salt in the wounds left by their manacles. Sharing, lending, and selling games will be prohibitively difficult. Once again the user doesn’t matter; we must acquiesce to the demands of our corporate masters.
5. It will cease to operate at all whenever Microsoft decides to stop supporting it
Like I said in “Death to Always-Online DRM”, when the servers running the Xbox One cease to exist, every single game it runs will be permanently lost for all of its millions of users unless Microsoft magnanimously decides to make the games playable offline sometime before the next console cycle. Microsoft’s mercy, that’s the punchline.
6. Kinect, ugh
I know Microsoft wanted a piece of Nintendo’s big fat waggle control pie, but there’s no reason why we should have to suffer through waggle controls because their marketing department said it’s what we’re all hoping for.
Also you should notice that they suspiciously didn’t name a price or a release date. Maybe they learned from Sony’s unintentionally hilarious PlayStation 3 reveal in 2006 not to announce such details until later so they can have time to soften the blow. A supposed price has been leaked: $500 USD if you don’t buy a subscription to Xbox Live, $300 if you do. Actually, that’s not horrible. They don’t need to overcharge on the console itself because they have so many other methods of gouging customers.
So what do these blunders mean for Microsoft’s future? The fact is that gamer unrest will probably only make the tiniest dent in their coffers. Big game companies have already proven that they can screw over gamers and we will keep giving them money anyway, so what incentive do they have to treat us with respect? The Xbox One will have Madden, Halo, and Call of Duty sequels, so it’s a guaranteed moneymaker regardless of the quality of the games made by people who are actually trying. The new Call of Duty has a computer-controlled dog companion! Hooray! What kind of moron is impressed by this garbage? It will probably have some pointless forced Kinect usage, too. Wave your hands in a certain pattern to get the dog to attack rather than pressing a button like God intended.
The hardware on the console itself looks interesting. It has potential. I feel sorry for Microsoft’s employees who had to pour their heart into the development of something that would end up having such ridiculous restrictions.
Nintendo will probably win this console generation, just like they did the last one. The Wii U and the 3DS have idiotic gimmicks that no one asked for, but at least they’re not fiercely anti-consumer. You can buy a game and it will run on a Nintendo system (except for region locking, but that’s a lesser evil compared to what their competitors are doing). Even Sony (which I loathe to a far greater degree than Microsoft) realizes that encasing their players in a prison of DRM is a fool’s errand.
You want to know how competent Microsoft is lately? They released a new version of Windows that requires third-party software to even navigate and then announced a new mouse with a start button to mitigate their own terribleness. My friend Erik has a BA in computer programming and it took him about an hour to figure out how to shut down a Windows 8 computer. They have done it again, and by “it” I mean “created something with objectively bad design.” Some group of jerks hacked Xbox Live on the 19th (before the disastrous press conference) and stole a large amount of user information for “high-profile Xbox Live accounts” and Microsoft’s response was basically “there is no problem here.” What a pack of buffoons. But worry not, corporate shills like Ben Kuchera are already defending Microsoft’s cruel thievery. Microsoft couldn’t bribe me enough to defend them, not that they’d bother after reading this article.
The Xbox One might very well have some excellent games on it. I will be denying myself access to them because of my stance, but that’s a worthy sacrifice if it means not willingly baring my throat to these bastards. Join my obsessive-compulsive Facebook campaign to protest the abuses of Microsoft. If it didn’t have all the games, I wouldn’t even use Windows at all.
Here’s a new game machine that might not suck. And how about that Steam Box, eh?