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The Xbox One: Why It Makes Sense… But Really Doesn’t.

June 6, 2013

As I sit here on the local train from Babylon to Penn Station, I find myself thinking about the next few days. Sure there’s work-related things going on in my mind; new drink ideas for the summer, orders that need to be placed, how annoying it can sometimes be to rely on streaming services for music, and so on. Yet, there’s other things on my mind as well; I need to remember to wish my friend a happy birthday, what am I going to do for dinner, a cool story idea here or there. What I’m most excited for though, is that tomorrow my Xbox Controller for Windows will arrive in the mail.

Why am I excited for a peripheral that in many ways is basically the same as something I already own?

Because a friend of mine, in his continuing attempts to prove that Dark Souls is a great game, bought me a copy for the computer as a birthday gift. After all, the best way to get someone to give in to some piece of culture is to guilt them. Seriously, I probably would have never read A Song of Ice and Fire if my brother hadn’t given me the first four books for Christmas one year.

However, despite the logical line of thought that my Microsoft product would work with my Microsoft product, I discovered that this was apparently a very wrong line of thinking.

After stopping by the local nerd shop a few doors down from my restaurant, I discovered that this is something that lots of people discover. The proprietor’s suggestion was that I had to dig deep through Microsoft’s website to find the exact piece of software or hardware that I did need. This was, as it turns out, an Xbox Controller for Windows, which is compatible with the Xbox but regular Xbox controllers are not compatible with computers. So, now I’ll have another controller, which is so useful because we live in a world where internet-capable consoles haven’t destroyed the split screen market.

Yet, looking forward to the future, I reflect that maybe this isn’t a terrible purchase. After all, given what I’ve learned so far of the Xbone I probably won’t be shelling out a chunk of change for it. That money could be better spent on booze, women, and a PC dedicated to gaming. The amount of money I’ll save by buying digital games through Amazon and Steam will only further support building some obnoxious monolithic super-computer that can handle all the Gods damned pixels graphic designers will throw at me.

When I think about the Xbone though, I find myself forcing to sit here and admit that it actually is a sensible idea. Not the always-on Internet connection, and the whole thing about games being linked to your account deal. You know, the stuff that infuriated nerds to such a degree it caused Microsoft to backpedal so hard they’ve actually ripped holes in the space-time continuum.

The actual core idea of it being the one thing you need for a home entertainment system.

When you really stop and think about it, I can very easily imagine the market data that lead to this being their main line of thought. Normally, when I turn on my Xbox, it’s not to play games at all. It’s to watch something on Netflix, or play a DVD. Most of the people I see on Xbox Live? Also watching movies on Netflix or watching some video through some other internet service that Live provides.

I’ve even tried to watch sports on my Xbox. Several times in fact, have I tried to watch football or soccer on my Xbox only to be stymied by Cable providers. I’m not even a big sports fan. I think that half of the statistics we’ve made up about sports are really there to justify the existence of ESPN round tables (and when you remember that most Baseball statistics were created by one very bored man it does ring somewhat true). Yet, if the opportunity to easily watch sports were made available to me, through Xbox Live, I’d probably take advantage of it.

Hell, apparently one of my friend’s younger brothers spends so much time with his Xbox just on that it’s how he and most of his friends communicate. They don’t use phones, or an instant messaging service, or social networking sites. They send each other voice messages over Live, or will join into Parties while they’re doing nothing related to playing games. Maybe one of them is playing a game, but he’s using another Xbox Live service to merely communicate with his friends.

What I’m trying to say is that on a personal level, I have plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests an Xbox 360 naturally becomes the entertainment fixture in a home that it is brought into. Why? Most likely because it’s easy to use, particularly if you have Kinect and enable voice commands. It also is a lot easier to set up and deal with an Xbox than fiddling with a VGA cable and your laptop. Plus, it’s an actual video game console.

Here’s the rub though, the real moment where they tripped up.

All of the people who use the Xbox in this way, bought it as a game console first. Yes, we all really like the other features. Ancillary features have been a part of consoles ever since the PS1 could play CDs. They’ve been important since the PS2 could play DVDs. Hell, the PS2 was the first DVD player my family ever owned.

However, just like the Xbox 360 becoming the major component of my household entertainment, that PS2 was only in my family’s household because my brother and I desperately wanted to play all of the cool and exciting games that were coming out for it. If you recall, the PS2 had an amazing library of games, probably the best we’ve seen of any console generation. Many great games were, more importantly, available at launch. That combined with the fact that it was also a DVD player in an age when DVD players were still just too much of a luxury item for many middle class families (especially if you were going to blow the 250 to 350 smackers on a very advanced toy), and you can see how it quickly rose to prominence.

In this dreadfully modern age where everything is wireless and on the Cloud (am I saying that right? The Cloud?), I fully expect any console to provide me with all sorts of ridiculous services. Streaming television, Internet, and teleconferencing. I’m not impressed with those things because I have a a Gods damned PIECE OF GLASS IN MY POCKET that does all of those things. The laptop that I’m using to write this blog post can do all of that, while I’m sitting here traveling on a train. It too can play games.

So what games are going to be launching, exclusively, with this console?

None.

The big game is a first person shooter that appeals to a portion of people that were going to buy this console anyway because it was going to have that game on it. Yet, even they would probably be better off just playing the game on a computer, since we all know a Mouse and Keyboard lets you get many many more headshots than a controller. Remember FPS players, girls only like guys who get lots of headshots because it means you have a very big penis. And girls love giant penises, just ask them.

There’s been nothing announced to sway me into updating to this new generation. Not on the PS4 and certainly not on the Wii-U. Largely because all of these consoles are ignoring the fact that they are for playing games and I purchase them because I really don’t want to open up graphics files to dick around with frame rates and other such nonsense.

If anything, the Xbone to me is just showcasing a larger problem with the video game industry as a whole. The fact that they will observe market data and wildly misinterpret it, if not just completely skew it from the get go. This is the same reason that even though many gamers are women, we still believe that we need to put a grizzled white guy on the cover of every game. It’s why the guy must always be white, grizzled, and have a name picked from The Many Names of David Ryder.

We see that people use their Xbox for things other than gaming, therefore let’s expand the non-video game aspects. That’s great, it really is, and it makes sense, until you realize that they sacrificed the whole game portion that made me buy the system in the first place. Without that strong foundation, there isn’t a good product. On top of all that, even if there were games, there are plenty of other reasons to not buy the thing that are there solely as a giant middle finger to retailers while also inconveniencing me, the consumer, that I just… I don’t see the point to.

I grew up with video game consoles. The first time I didn’t buy a system at launch was this latest generation, and that has more to do with the fact that I wanted to focus on my studies both before and during college than my opinion on gaming. However, as of right now, I have no intention of picking up an Xbone or a PS4 or anything like that because of the choices they have made.

I now have a controller for my computer, and graphics are only going to go so much farther before they too stop becoming a selling point. So… yeah. I’ll probably end up buying a VGA cable again just to play computer games on my television.

Good job, guys. You tried to make yourselves the feature of my living room, and in doing so you forced your way out of my living room like the place was on Gods damned fire.

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From → Opinions, Video Games

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