A Quest For Normalcy: An Average Guy's Take On Next Gen - mbellacio Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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A Quest For Normalcy: An Average Guy's Take On Next Gen

 

As you get older, one of the subtle changes that you become more aware of is a lower tolerance for unnecessary grief or frustration. True, you may develop more patience in most general aspects of life, but the things that really tend to irk you the most are little things. You tend to more get stuck in your own peculiar ideas, habits, and preferences. And more so than anything else, you just want things to make sense. At least, that's been my experience.

It is that desire for common sense, or normalcy that has presented me with an unexpected challenge with the coming of this next generation of consoles. Much of the news regarding this new generation of consoles has been less than exciting. Whereas I would have expected this generation to be an unprecedented opportunity for new experiences, and innovations, it just seems to me that most of the news from this generation of consoles involves telling us what restrictions await us.

I'll admit that I had high hopes for the Wii U prior to it's launch, and to some extent, I still hold out some measure of that original hope. But, by now I think we all know what Nintendo's issues are with their new console. Games. But to pose a very simple, very direct question, why? Sure, third party support has been tepid at best. But Nintendo had to know that developer's confidence in their hardware has steadily been eroded over the years. Why hadn't they attacked this problem head on?

Here's a simple little fact that is often overlooked when it comes to discussing new or existing consoles. It only takes ONE GOOD GAME to sell hardware. That's what Halo did for the original Xbox. It's what Super Mario Galaxy did for the Wii. It's what Final Fantasy 7 did for the original Playstation. One good game carries that much weight. So what happens when you have several (at least 3 or 4) AAA games available for launch?

To switch gears a bit, look at Sony. After taking a tremendous beating for most of 2011 and 2012, Sony has now become everyone's new darling. But what really kickstarted the new affection for Sony was a small handful of games. In 2013, the PS3 has come out with fists swinging, offering some of the freshest, most compelling content I've seen since... since the 1990's PC gaming renaissance. The Last Of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, Watchdogs, Metal Gear Solid V, and now Infamous: Second Son are paving the way for a very strong and succesful year for Sony. But that's only five games I mentioned.

Nintendo could certainly stand to take a page from Sony's book. So far, Nintendo's approach to the Wii U has been simply baffling. If there is any report of games for the Wii U of late, it is of rehashed Virtual Console titles, many of which date back to the original NES. And while nostalgia is great, I don't think people spend over $300 on a brand new game system to play games that are 20 years old.

Nintendo has some of the best intellectual property's this side of Disney. The 3DS has benefitted richly from these and somehow managed to hold onto third party support as well. So what has gone wrong with the Wii U? Clearly, it's lack of power is NOT the issue. And no matter how many times you hear both gamers and industry talking heads squawk about how underpowered the Wii U is, history tells us something different. The PS2 had the least power of it's generation, and the PSP was a powerhouse compared to the original DS and Gameboy Advance. The issue is what it always has been. Games, Games, GAMES!

I am beyond confused as to why we haven't seen a new Metroid, Starfox or F-Zero. I am puzzled by Nintendo's inability to create new IP. Is it that hard? Are there not some creative geniuses with fresh ideas worth exploring in the house of Nintendo?

But enough about Nintendo, because they represent only half of my frustration. The other half is firmly linked... to Microsoft, and I'm sure that it's no mystery as to why.

From a distance, Microsoft has always struck me as a company eager to do new and great things, but with no innate sense of how to provoke such change. Worse still, it also seems that Microsoft hates nothing more than to see any other company do something new or better. Microsoft's approach to such things has usually been to try and buy their way into a market, or try and destroy their competition outright. That's just my honest opinion from a layman's point of view.

Take Microsoft's most sacred product, Windows. Windows is certainly a functional and highly useful operating system, but is it truly the best OS simply because it has the majority of market share? That is a question that is wide open for debate, but certainly experienced users Mac OS X, Linux, and BSD could probably give you a long list of things that Windows does poorly and even worse than others.

Nonetheless, Microsoft has firmly held onto their market share, even despite some truly horrible product offerings (Windows Vista, Windows ME). Even less "broken" products like Windows 8 still manage to thrive due to Windows being the default OS for the vast majority of PC makers. So you can imagine Microsoft's surprise when Apple, it's longtime foe, decided to give up on fighting the desktop computer battle, and decided to forge new paths into mobile phones and eventually tablets. And what had to hurt most was that Apple made that switch better than Microsoft could have ever dreamed.

Now... now Microsoft is doing the "me too" dance all over again and is desperately trying to become relevant in the mobile market with the Windows phone, and Surface tablets. This, in a market where Google and Apple's collective dominance is nearly absolute. Even with the knowledge that the iPad represents the standard against which all other tablets are measured, Microsoft had to attempt pushing their own device which neither matches, nor beats Apple's product. And even the Windows Surface Pro pales before the functionality of the iPad. So... another battle, not lost, but certainly not won. Now what?

Xbox One.

Although having achieved stupidly fantastic success with the first two Xbox consoles, Microsoft is flaundering once again. Now, it's not enough for the Xbox to merely offer entertainment in the form of video games. No. Now, Microsoft wants to be at the very center of your every choice for entertainment. Microsoft wants to "own the living room", and they have set themselves to this path like Captain Ahab chasing that infamous whale. It seems that no one at Microsoft has asked themselves if that goal of "owning the living room" is in fact worthwhile or even practical.

The new Xbox sounds like a marvel of technology, but most of that wonderful tech is being devoted to A) Being a media device, and B) Controlling and restricting how you access your entertainment. Microsoft wants to put a camera in your home that is smart enough to recognize your face, verbally talk to you, and even detect your heart rate. Did I ask for any of this? Did you? Is this the experience we've all been wanting? Somehow... I just don't think so.

And you know... here's the big thing about the Xbox One. At the end of the day, Microsoft is ALWAYS gong to have it's diehard supporters who swear that the Xbox One is probably the best thing to happen since sliced bread. They'll tell you that all the naysayers are either poor, whining little b****** who need to just "get over it", or they'll swear that any criticisms about the Xbox One are merely being fueled by irrational Sony and Nintendo fanboys.

I realize more and more each passing day that Microsoft has obviously decided to sharpen their focus on a key demographic that spends money freely and does not question much, so long as they think they are getting something "new". That's fine. I say, let em' have it. But for me, all I I hear is Microsoft telling me no, no, no when what I want to hear is yes, yes, yes.

I don't want Microsoft deciding whether I can resell games I've paid for. I don't feel like paying "kickbacks" for buying a used game to greedy (yes, I said it) publishers/developers. That's extra aggravation that I don't NEED. I don't want to have to think about how I'm going to store every single game I download. Hey, Microsoft, it's your stupid idea, so how about some free cloud storage then, huh? I don't want to worry about being stuck with a $500 paperweight because my internet service is out, or because (god forbid) I decide to let my service lapse for awhile. I don't want Kinect asking me who else is in my house. You know what? F*** YOU Kinect! What are you, my mother?

Somehow, I think Microsoft has gotten the roles all twisted. I don't exist to serve Microsoft, or Xbox One, or Kinect. Those products exist to serve ME, the customer. And if they don't serve me in EXACTLY the way I LIKE, what the hell is the point??? Call me cranky, but it's like I said. When you get older, you just don't have as much tolerance for this kind of BS.

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