May 27, 2013

Xbox Losing Sight

It's going to be a long and upsetting post, if you didn't know much about the next xbox buckle up it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Browsing through this month's game informer I'm a bit more worried than ever about the state of xbox. While I've been a pc man these last couple years prior to that I was an avid xbox gamer for a multitude of reasons. I also experienced the headache of xbla publishing yet that wasn't my reason for leaving. Simply put the playstation plus service was so great it made me ashamed to pay for my online play of xbox and prompted me to switch heavily to playstation and pc. This is also part of why if I had to choose the next round of upcoming consoles it would probably be the ps4 though at this point neither really excites me. The only major launch title that has me hyped so far is the new Metal Gear and even that isn't going to move a single console in my direction.

To the point though given the article on indie devs I must say the guy they interviewed clearly didn't have a good grasp on how bad the situation is or was seriously downplaying how many people have jumped ship. If they don't start paying better attention to details they're going to get another shock like they did with the always-on backlash.

I'm still eager to see though just how everything will actually turn out, and I always love checking out new interfaces even if they completely suck. Though I will say that I miss the old xbox blades looking back on them now they were kind of obtuse and the NXE is a better flow that's just more efficient but look at how much style they cut from it an how simplistic it's become. The xbox is suffering from the designs being placed on this extreme multimedia center and family friendly garbage they've been forcing on it. I understand the desire for market share but at some point you have to ask if you're alienating your loyal customers, the ones that come back for more and generally buy the bigger ticket items with some frequency. It won't help you to have more customers if you lose the more important market share.

Really the vibe I'm getting is xbox is trying to move out of the gaming market all together. Rather than branch out into other areas it looks like it's practically abandoning it's roots. It's moved from a more mature gamer orientation to more child and soccer mom friendly. Abandoning the mature games in favor of E and T ratings leads me to believe they'd rather compete with nintendo than sony. Clearly the Xbox has lost sight of where it came from and what it was meant for. The controller design itself was meant for shooters, a natively mature rating and often the home of hardcore gamers. Late in the generation suddenly xbox decided to focus on copying everyone else to get more grandparents and children playing simple minded games for some reason. The xbox was never intended as a "baby's first console" and the sooner they realize that the better they'll be for it.

I'm not saying it might not be nice to have some of these multimedia features they've detailed or for it to function like an HTPC but when it comes down to it, it should not be to the exclusion of gaming given that it's intended for games first and other entertainment second and as of yet he have heard barely anything to do with it's gaming abilities, at least in comparison to it's all important role in the family living room. You know that room... the one where everyone is constantly walking in front of the tv and everyone argues about who get's to control the tv for how long and depending on how young you are and how old your parents are might not even be allowed to hook up the console to the tv at all. I remember back when I had my first psx and n64, my mom was convinced that consoles ruined the tv, bleed the color out, and generally destroyed them. Thankfully I had my own little screen I'd had since back in my early nintendo days still working like a champ. Over the years I've since replaced it probably a hundred times or more by now and yet I've never been without a screen of my own for my console, and I've never bothered having it anywhere near the cable box. I happen to think that's the real common place of it too, is that most people keep their consoles by their computers, maybe the largest tv they have without being pestered by someone else about it, or otherwise not generally so important that it be near the cable box. The average family home now as at least 2 tv's if not more and I am quite sure that if you live with someone else that might ever complain about you hogging the tv an they want to watch cable then you probably don't have it hooked up to that tv.

Side note of the day being that cable is losing market anyway. People such as myself are finding plenty of other ways to watch what we want how we want. From hulu, to netflix, and torrents we watch only what we want to skipping most if not all commercials and for those of us that just can't give it up there's always the dvr and I'm fairly sure nobody intends on actually replacing that with their xbox especially if they only have one. It just invites a headache and I know I'm going to love hearing the rants about this kind of nonsense down the road.

With the big reveal having been said and done there are plenty of other things to gripe about. The xbox team has clearly gone out of their way to change a lot, and that sadly is not a good thing in this case as they're changing too much and all the wrong things. For starters your after market equipment like those expensive turtle beach headsets won't work on the new xbox. The awesome controller has been altered in a lot of ways, some for the better some for worse but my real complaint is probably the shell design. From what I can see the side for your hands is at an annoying angle and perhaps too long and clearly a significant step away from the ever so comfortable design we have now which I would be happy with only a slight redesign to incorporate some of the other features they plan on forcing on us. For example the battery is finally on the inside but can be removed and replaced if need be.  Back to the bad news the next xbox is coming up short in up front processing ability compared to the ps4 which we've already established is lacking for what we expect of next gen, however it appears that both consoles will support 4k after all, though that most likely does not include 3d. Apparently the wizards over at MS decided to go with cloud computing to address this issue which might've been alright if it weren't for a few obvious things like the fact that if one thing is going to be needing more processing than the console can handle then there are likely other such consoles also offloading their work to each other which means that likely nobody will be able to play some kind of supreme call of duty in 4 years so intense you need the power of 2 whole consoles to handle it, add to that the fact a lot of people turn their consoles off when not in use which means they're not free to do computations for everyone else, and down the line, in the end it can't be relied on to solve the lack of up front power. Though you may not have a choice as the always-on rumors continue to rage, with microsoft not giving any clear answer on the subject which at the very least has said you'll likely have to connect to the internet at least once a day to play or do anything with the console. Forced installation of games to the hard drive doesn't help much either in particular when you consider how small the hard drive is likely to be and how large your collection will inevitably grow to the point in which you have to delete things which you might not be able to re-download even with the disk. Speaking of which there's plenty of rumors flying around about their DRM which has lead many to believe that you may not be able to play used games, you can buy and sell them sure but good luck playing them without the one time use only code that's hard locked to a single profile. Maybe they're trying to take a page from steam, the problem is they're taking the wrong page, as it's the one we kind of all wish they'd tear out and replace with something nicer and friendlier. To clear that up a bit my understanding is that you'll have to pay a "used game fee" which I hope to hell gamestop takes into consideration somehow because I can tell you right now I absolutely will not be paying for a game twice under any circumstance no matter how cheap. As to the presentation itself from what I understand we pretty much agree that it was a big let down with M$ focusing more on the absurd tv watching capability of the whole thing than games or more importantly exclusives. Basically showing the EA sports line up which is on all the consoles anyway and isn't even a big deal considering most gamers aren't big sports gamers either, and COD ghosts which again will be on all platforms, and they rushed through even that. I guess we'll have to wait and see what they do at E3 as they promise that will be all the gaming related material, but why wold they even have a press conference if they're not going to get it all out there to begin with? instead they just keep abusing the people that actually are interested in finding out and ticking us off so that we clearly don't want the console. If I had to pick today which I'd be getting and it had to be between the next xbox and the ps4 it'd be the ps4 absolutely for as much as the ps4 might irk me it doesn't at any point actually anger me because they know better by now, xbox on the other hand every time I turn around it's trying to push something on me that I don't want, that it clearly doesn't fully understand/comprehend, and isn't even implemented all that well. They're also insisting all consoles come with a connect which apparently will have to be always connected and that is almost a deal breaker for me, the chances of me buying the next xbox are next to 0% and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they decided to also force you to download patches for everything along with those mandatory game installs. Let's also not forget your kinect is almost mandatory and must always be connected and it can not be replaced. That last one is a really big potential problem.

You might be wondering "well... what did they do right?" and that's a post I'll reserve for after e3 and more info comes out. As of right now it appears the only thing they've actually done right is including enough fans to keep it from overheating and causing rrod like last time, and even that's not a sure thing as they've designed this one to be "more dense" which likely means a lot more heat.

Final side note is supposedly this next xbox will include multiple gpu's which might either be interesting or a fatal flaw that destroys the console like the cell processor for the ps3 did. If it's too complex to work with then it's game over for xbox. If however it's a hardcore gpu for games and a kind of softcore gpu for basic multimedia or even an apu considering the processor is designed by amd then perhaps it might be a very powerful addition in helping ensure smooth operation across the board for all this proposed multimedia functionality which will likely not get used very much. I hope they see how much of what gets done with their next console and learn what people really want in a gaming machine which is what they're labeled as, then implement it because they clearly have no idea what they're doing anymore. The entire xbox concept has almost destroyed itself trying to conform for this idea of being for everyone and getting this kinect up and running as a motion controller etc it's just constantly chipping away at itself and sooner or later it's going to completely break itself. I really hope someone sues them for forcing kinect on us in this manner btw. Just someone that gets a game that uses the M$ official "assumption of voice and gesture" that can't play because of some disability and they just lose it and sue everybody. If you're reading this start building your class action now because there's actually a good chance it'll happen, as evidence I present every suit filed over the RRoD in all it's forms, the disc tray ring problem, and really every other suit ever filed against xbox, I find it particularly funny the guy that won his case after he got banned for some reason and sued them because he couldn't access the services he paid for and wasn't given a refund.


  1. I always liked Xbox Live,but never used it.I can defanetly say that Steam is the best gaming system out there,better than Xbox Live or PSN.Good article!.

  2. waiting for you to write an article on the steam platform coming up...

  3. Can completely agree with this.