Xbox backpedals, Gizmodo blames us
I did a post last week about the latest edition of the console wars, and how the new systems have some drawbacks. The king of these drawbacks, was the new XBox. I say “was” because they’ve backpedaled a bit. I found this out through an article by Gizmodo, which stated that Microsoft decided to remove the necessity to connect to the internet every 24 hours, and removed the DRM restrictions on sharing, selling, and buying used games.
Now, I took this as a win, and a step in the right direction. There shouldn’t be a system in place that would essentially brick your console if you lost internet for more than 24 hours, or took your game system on vacation with you, which I do. You should also not be restricted from selling or trading games. You bought it, you should be able to sell it. Sounds reasonable, right? Well, not if you’re Gizmodo, apparently…
Gizmodo released a follow up article to their first story, stating how the whiners on the internet, who bitched about the DRM, are now responsible for a loss of features and industry innovation. Their article, to sum up, basically said that what Microsoft was doing would have been a great thing, and would have brought convenience and ease of use to the console gaming platform, the likes of which have never been seen. Their stance is that the fear of losing the ability to play your games isn’t worth losing the convenience of sharing your downloaded titles, and being able to play games without the disc being in the tray. They also posit that if the devs were getting money for used game sales, then the games would be cheaper. Sorry guys, but that’s bullshit.
First of all, the potential to lose the ability to play your purchased games is NOT worth any sort of “convenience”, sorry.
“Excuse me, Microsoft support, yeah I can’t play my games cuz my internet is out”
“Sorry buddy, can’t help you.”
“Hey, what kinda shit is that?! If I can’t play my games, what good is this thing?!”
“Well, you can totally share your downloaded titles and stuff”
“I HAVE NO INTERNET! Why the fuck would I need to share a game I can’t even play?!”
“Hey kid, Gizmodo said this shit was totally innovative, so we’re rockin’ this shit. This is the future, son, where we own more and more of the content you use. Eventually, gaming will be a service, like Netflix, where you never own a game, just an invisible right to play it for as long as we allow you to. You don’t like it? Get some internet, get with the program, and stop bitching!”
The other problem with this, is the future ramifications. I’m a well known classic gamer, and I tend to play a lot of older titles on my now-obsolete game consoles. Down the road, when the XB1 is one of those, the check in system could very easily brick the system, if they choose to stop supporting it. Then, you basically have hardware AND software that are completely worthless, since they’re unable to do what they were intended for. Think that won’t happen? How much support did the first Xbox get after 360 came out? They basically disavowed the system, and stopped supporting it.
Allowing control on this level would create a bad precedent in the industry, and will pave the way for console makers to just sell a piece of hardware, and just stream everything to it rather than offer any sort of physical media. This way, they can code in DRM that bricks the games after the console is no longer supported, or simply giving them the ability to control what games we have access to, and for how long. This would be similar to Netflix, but with a huge drawback. Although Netflix is a great service, but if they stop offering a video for streaming, I still have the ability to buy the disc and own a copy (well, own a right to view a copy, technically speaking). The direction gaming is going in would remove the ability to get a game not offered by streaming. Console makers, especially Microsoft, are heading in that direction. Microsoft is also going that way for their other products, changing their focus towards cloud-based offerings, which would prevent companies from installing the software locally and using it as they see fit.
This Gizmodo article also cited WoW as a reason why DRM is good. Sorry guys, but people playing an MMO aren’t doing it for the convenience or just the game itself, it’s the draw that they’re interacting with other people and not just mindless NPCs. It’s a very social place. Also, there are PLENTY of people who don’t like the model they use, we just choose to not bother playing. I don’t see the point of paying 50 bucks for a game, then needing a 12 dollar a month subscription just to be able to play it. Sorry, but that’s bullshit, and I don’t think it’s at all worth the convenience or experience. You can’t use the DRM and licensing model of an MMO to justify DRM and system bricking technology on consoles that contain a ton of single player games. I don’t game online much, and there are quite a few people like me in that respect, so this is definitely not cool.
They also mention Steam, using that to justify their statement that games would be cheaper. Apples and oranges. First of all, Steam isn’t download only. You can also buy physical copies of games that use Steam. They also don’t require you to check in every 24 hours. Sure, you can’t sell used games in the US, but you can in the EU. Steam is also working on a game sharing system, which will hopefully be better than the “family and friends” plan M$ was pushing.
I do understand that the sharing of digital games is something we should be moving towards, but I also get that M$ and game devs want to make as much money as possible with their products. If I borrow a game from someone, and don’t really like it, I won’t buy it. If I do like it, I’ll pick it up. It’s that simple. The gaming industry is a multi billion dollar industry right now, and that number keeps going up. These guys have no problems making money, and don’t give me the whole “this is hurting the little devs” bullshit. Our country, and console makers are the main ones hurting them. Also, a fair amount of them don’t make great games. Those who do, sell a bunch of games. There can be sharing of content without the control and restriction. The fact of the matter is this: companies make products, and they want us to buy their item instead of another item from a competitor. So, they add features to make it more enticing. These features would benefit the customer in some way, and would benefit the company by having their product purchased. If the company, instead, decided to add features, but remove others, just to make it more enticing to sell, then there’s going to be backlash. I don’t care how innovative the new shit is. If the company has to remove features in order to give features, then they obviously aren’t acting in the interest of the consumer or the industry. To think otherwise is to be completely blind to logic, and suckered into believing the bullshit propaganda being fed to you by the company. I’m disappointed in you, Gizmodo, I honestly thought you were better than that….
EDIT: I forgot, in my typing rage, to include an important fact about the whole ‘Steam sells games cheaper’ thing. Steam’s digital offerings has something that Microsoft’s Live Marketplace doesn’t…competition. There are a number of sites and services that allow you to purchase and download digital games for PC, which makes sales and price drops necessary to remain relevant and generate a consistent stream of revenue. It keeps people interested in your service, and makes them more likely to wait to buy it from you, rather than from your competitor. The Xbox has no such competition. If they’re the only shop in town, they can do and charge what they want, since they have a distribution monopoly. They won’t charge less for digital games, since retailers would take a beating that way, and M$ would have a shitstorm to deal with that way.