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OMG! Level 15! - Level 15
Kotaku posited an interesting article yesterday: When
will gamers say enough is enough?
It’s an interesting opinion piece, and it struck a chord
with me, which I will elaborate on in a minute (depending on your reading speed,
My girlfriend has found this Xbox One (or XBO—and I refuse
to use the desperate-to-be-funny “Xbone” moniker because it looks desperate to
be funny) fiasco to be very frustrating. She really likes her Xbox 360. She’s as frustrated by fan reactions as she
is to Microsoft’s varying, often nonsensical commentary on the non-console
She asks me “well, what the hell do gamers want anyway?” Usually this is followed by a comment that
gamers want the system to make them a sandwich and perform sexual acts on them,
but her point is still valid. There sure
is a lot of complaining about DRM, always-on consoles or games, locked-out used
games, games locked to profiles, etc.
Shockingly, this complaining from gamers (not my girlfriend) is generally followed by “well, I’m still
going to buy it.” Which is where I
reference the Kotaku article above—at what point are you going to cross your
arms, sneer at the corporatism that has taken over our industry, and say, “well
f**k you, man. I’m going to eschew my fanboyism and buy something else”?
I’m fairly certain that anyone, right now, saying “I am
going to buy an XBO” is largely a fanboy (no offense), who has given perhaps undue
loyalty to Microsoft. There is no reason to be making that decision
already—same with the PS4 or flatly not
buying it. I think the only system I
decided to buy outright when it was announced was the 3DS—and my reasoning was
outside of anything Nintendo said during their reveal. It was largely because I didn’t get the
original DS until 3 years after it launched, and I am still playing catch-up on the games I missed. The 3DS had every indication of being the
same kind of console—and I wanted to be in on the ground floor (I still missed
Rhythm Thief and Zero Escape).
Yes, as of this writing, E3 is mere days away, and then we
get to see what games MS actually has in store—which I’m certain will include
3-5 Kinect games, some XBO XBLA games, predictable franchises, a surprise or
two, and timed exclusives. But do the
games even matter right now?
Just because the XBO will have (or has depending on when you
read this) games doesn’t mean the DRM, always-on, limited game use, limited
trades, used-lockouts, and total Kinect integration will magically go away—don’t
forget what you’re complaining about the second you see an “oooh pretty” game.
Nobody actually likes choices.
So that. What do you
want in your game console? I bet most of the four or five of you sneering at
this will say the following:
I want a dedicated game console, with a few bells and
whistles (Netflix, etc) for good measure.
I want free online.
I want DRM-free gaming.
I want to be able to buy used games.
Some of you will say, I want it to be Indie Friendly.
I want it to be quick and easy to use.
I want DLC and a good online store.
I want lots of harddrive space.
I want backwards compatibility.
The XBO is almost none of these things (except the HDD,
which cannot be changed like it could in previous Xbox consoles). So, if it doesn’t define what you as a gamer want in a game console,
why are you still buying it?
“Because tech, which I mistakenly believe defines video
Perhaps you’re puffing your chest right now and saying: “Well
jerkoff, what about the PS4?” We still don’t know a lot about the PS4. We know Sony is targeting gamers while
Microsoft is targeting anybody else.
Though, suspicions have been growing that the PS4 will also include some
sort of DRM or used game lockout similar to the XBO. And if it does, what then?
Here’s a challenge many of you probably won’t take:
Carefully analyze the currently known next-gen consoles (Wii U, PS4, XBO), and ignore the games you think will be on there. Weigh the pros and cons of the hardware
design itself and what can be done with it.
And before you scoff closed-mindedly at the Wii U’s “limited” hardware,
remember that the industry has largely peaked with what can be done in gaming
based on current hardware. Microsoft and
Sony have already hinted that the gaming focus of their machines is exactly the
same as the last generation, and nearly the same as the Wii U—shooters, sports
games, predictable genres played largely the same way as they have for a
After you’ve analyzed theseconsoles, let’s hear which one honestly lists the features you want in
a game console. Did you want to be able
to easily play used games? Have no DRM? Have free online? Backwards
compatibility? Relative freedom to play
the console how you want to play it?
Focused on games?
Because you have just chosen the Wii U.
A console far, far too many people have blindly written off,
Okay, I get the games thing, but at this point, we should all be smart
enough to know that no console ever comes out batting steady home runs in it’s first
year on the market. None. Given history (that
has repeated itself with the 3DS and Vita), the first year is typically slow,
and the 1-year-anniversary period—when the sophomore titles start launching—is when
a console truly starts showing its value.
But “Nintendo is out of touch,” or “they don’t know what
they’re doing,” or “I’m a juvenile and I need to play violent M-rated games to
feel adultish, and have no other idea what defines maturity.” I said this once, too. And I was stupid to say so. Before the original DS launched, I scoffed
and said “what the hell is that thing? Nintendo has lost their minds. What
about the Game Boy Advance.” (And by the
way, the idea that Nintendo “doesn’t have violent/mature games” has been
inaccurate since the days of the SNES—it’s time to drop it already. It only
serves to prove how little one knows about gaming.)
Fast forward almost a decade and I’m eating my words and
happy to do so. I consider the DS and
3DS to be the best game systems, probably, ever made—and I’m a die-hard 16-bit SNES/Genesis
fanatic. The DS is, last I checked, the highest selling
game system ever—actually besting the
Playstation 2, at well over 150 million in sales. Its library is huge and expansive, and most
importantly, flooded with unique and creative exclusive games. I loved my Xbox 360, but I fully recognize
that it will never have what the DS line has always had—a steady stream of
exclusive, system-defining content. The
X360 is defined more by its multiplatform games and the originally successful
Xbox Live set-up—something now copied, matched, or trounced by Nintendo and
A brand new VCR?
Only once in my life have I purchased a console for one game—it
was the original Playstation for Tekken 3.
I now consider that a very unintelligent way to purchase a console—and I
know I can live without some franchises, or will be happy to rediscover them
later. When I bought an N64, I knew I
wouldn’t be getting Final Fantasy games anymore, and I was fine with that. Later, Square and Nintendo made nice, and I
could get the old Final Fantasy games on the GBA and DS, and frankly had no
interest in the latter-day post-FFVI titles.
Remember, I did eventually buy a Playstation, and I tried to play
FFVIII, and realized I no longer cared for the franchise anyway.
Change is good. Maybe
this is when you walk out of the dark, dank Call of Duty bunker, rub your eyes
in fresh new sun, and realize there’s so much more out there. Granted, players of this CoD-only type are
not likely to see this, but after working in a game store, I know they
exist. They buy Call of Duty and Madden—and
that’s it. Perhaps they’ve found what
they like and they only like those two things—perhaps their lives are stuck in
a rut. I don’t know. I could never play
games that way.
Because what I do know is that I’m a gamer—a hobbyist—and a collector.
I have several consoles and I love games in pretty much every genre. About the only things I don’t play are MMO’s
because they are too much of a time investment—they would essentially prevent
me from playing the field, so to speak.
That field includes everything from Bulletstorm to Kirby, Rage to
Burnout (RIP, apparently), Metroid to Peggle, XCOM to EDF, Gunman Clive to
House of the Dead, Boom Blox to Uncharted.
Pew pew pew bitches!
As a gamer, I don’t want to be disallowed freedoms on my
game console. I do not want DRM, I do
not an always-on console, even if I’m online everyday anyway. I do not want arbitrary limitations, and in
the rare occasion I choose to do so, I want access to used games. I don’t pirate and I rarely buy used, because
I believe in supporting the industry, and frankly, I like the cleanliness of a
new product over a battered GameStop used disk.
Essentially, everything I want in a game system is easily
found in the two current Nintendo platforms—seamless design—I turn it on, (log
in for the Wii U), and bam—there are my games.
It’s primary focus is games. It
wants me to play games on it—and it doesn’t care if the game is used, new,
borrowed, or traded. Do I wish it was
more powerful? Yes, honestly, it would be nice.
But realistically, for being about the same power as the X360 and PS3,
it is reportedly a more efficient design, and it has four times the RAM as
those two. Sure, 1 GB for the operating
system alone, but then, the X360 shares operating system, gaming, and
everything in just 512 MB of RAM—and aside from rampant pop-up and texture
draw, it did fine with that. Comparatively
speaking, the XBO uses a full 3 GB of its 8GB of RAM just on the three
I get it. Sometimes
you just don’t want a console. That’s
fine. It took me a very long time to
warm up to the PSP. But let’s face it.
Point 1: If used games are important to you, the XBO has a
mark against it. The Wii U can do it (PS4 is still a question mark on most of
these, one that you can and should analyze for yourself after E3).
Point 2: If you don’t want the 24-hour internet connection
requirement, then the XBO has a mark against it, the Wii U is safe and the PS4,
thus far is also not set up this way.
Point 3: If you want a game console focused on gaming, with any other considerations secondary, then
the XBO has a mark against it, and both the Wii U and PS4 are putting gaming
Point 4: If you want backwards compatibility in any regard,
the Wii U and 3DS are the only next-gen machines with this option.
Point 5: If there is any feature of the Xbox One that you
really don’t like, then regardless of the games slated for it—you should not buy it. Keep in mind, every dollar you spend is a
vote for the future you want. If you
spend those dollars on devices that are big on being always online, DRM-heavy,
not-backwards compatible, require paid online services, or in any way place
restrictions on gaming that you don’t think should be there—THEN DO
NOT BUY IT.
When players complained about the always-online DRM for
Diablo III and Sim City—but still bought the game, the message they (possibly
you) sent was that you accept the restrictions, regardless of your
complaints. Blizzard and EA still have
your money, you’re b*tching doesn’t matter.
Now, you’re almost a hypocrite, sad but true.
Point 6: Microsoft (and Sony depending on the specifics) are
not going to change these things if you’re still going to give them your
money. When you pay for something you
don’t want, in reality, you’re showing that you actually want it.
So if you buy the XBO, obviously you want a required
internet connection, obviously you want limited game sharing, obviously you
want restrictions on used games, obviously you want to have to pay to play
online, obviously you want a console that somehow isn’t backwards compatible,
and obviously you want a device that is “Samsung Smart TV abilities first,
gaming second.” It doesn’t matter if
your mouth is saying something different—the voice of your dollars is what
I bet Solitaire kills on that thing.
If you find this upsetting, it’s not my fault—I’m just
pointing out the logic that corporations will see in this. The Wii U is the game system with all the
features you (may) claim you want in a console—but you aren’t buying it. The XBO is a console that has several
features you (may) claim you absolutely don’t want—but you’re still supporting
it and planning to buy it. By the view
of Microsoft (and EA, etc.), you obviously
want those features if you pay for the
Again, this is on you,
fellow gamer—if gaming matters to you, then you won’t care which console name is on the device—whether it be
Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, or Valve (we still haven’t seen the actual Steambox,
which could be a real game changer)—you’ll analyze the features of the console
itself and see which is more appealing to you.
Do you want a game machine or an entertainment machine? Do you want
restrictions, or freedoms? If you had an
unwarranted or misguided hatred of MS, Sony, or Nintendo—maybe this is the
generation you get over it.
As a gamer, I see no reason to be harsh towards Nintendo for
giving us a device that is absolutely gaming-centric in all its facets. Even TVii is a clearly secondary focus to the
thing playing games first. If you want “raw
hardware power” only, you shouldn’t be playing consoles in the first place—you should
be throwing your time and money into a PC gaming rig. Don’t walk around talking raw power or
processing and trying to find a better console defined by that alone—I’ve
pointed out before, several times, in
console gaming, power doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter to sales, it doesn’t matter to games, it doesn’t
matter to pretty much anything. When
analyzing the consoles, of course keep the power in mind—but we’ve reached a
point where this is hardly the most important concern.
Now, your freedom to whatever you want with your games is
important. Your online status is important.
Maybe Achievements are important to you—I have lost interest in them,
and consider them almost as much of a fad as music games were.
That’s fair. Well,
sort of. I’m trying to explain things
here, no reason to call me an idiot. Oh
you didn’t? I did that? We should maybe just stop this line of
conversation with myself and move on.
My point is that gamers seem to be complaining a lot lately
about what’s in the XBO and possibly
the PS4 that they DO NOT WANT in their game consoles. At the same time, said gamers are scoffing at
the Wii U, despite the fact that it very
much appears to offer exactly what they want.
If you don’t want the features the XBO is going to have, don’t buy it. Oh, you still want the games? You have three options—support the XBO and
the features you don’t want, learn to let go and find new franchises (so many
games are recycled in plot, character tropes, stereotypes, gameplay, and
setting these days anyway, especially the AAA market), or buy something else—which
may be part of letting go.
This is a critical time for the industry. Your buying habits over this generation will
determine its future. If you’re
switching to PC or Wii U, you’ll be sending a message that you are likely not
supportive of any freedom-cutting practices.
If you buy the XBO, despite your disapproval, you’re voting for a future
more heavily ingrained in its design features.
The PS4 is still a bit of a wild card, but not as much as Valve’s
Steambox. Maybe, this time, you pour
your attention into the upstart indie side, the Ouya, the GameStick, the
Shield. Maybe you’re ready for an
all-digital future, but without the restrictions of the XBO or possibly the
I’ll tell you my perspective and my view so far: I think the Wii U is going to be a great
system with great games, like pretty much every other Nintendo console ever—and
it’s silly, if not personally irresponsible, to simply write that company
off. They have something under their
sleeves. They must with how quiet they’ve been.
Last generation, the X360 and DS were my favorite consoles, and my
most-played systems. But I have no
loyalty, and despite how much I loved Alan Wake and Gears of War, these are not
enough to make me support what I see in the XBO. The vast majority of Microsoft’s exclusives
are timed anyway and will eventually end up on PC and other platforms. I am going to support GameStick and Ouya
because I believe in their causes and I think the industry needs the
shake-up. I might get the PS4, but I
want to know more. But overall, I don’t
think Nintendo, MS, or Sony will sell as well as the last generation, and very
little of the XBO appeals to me as a gamer.
Regardless of some of the games likely to be on there, I cannot support
I think players should buy new and support developers and
publishers. I think it’s wrong to force it.
I am not saying "don't buy the Xbox One," even if it may sound like it. I'm saying quit complaining and figure out what it is that you actually want in a gaming device. If you want DRM, almost-always online, and the XBO's restrictions, way more Kinect, etc, then by all means support those ideas.
Just make sure you know that your dollars are voting for the future of the industry as a whole, and if you don't want an always online console, DRM, removed backwards compatibility, etc, then you have no right to complain about the things your dollars are supporting. You have a choice not to buy it.
[Edited for formatting.]