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Do We Need The Xbox One To Fail?
Needless to say, Microsoft’s newest console is stirring up some heated mistrust in the gaming community, and with their E3 conference hours away at the time of writing, eyes and ears are eager to see if they can redeem themselves.
The Xbox One’s announcement was met with confusion and anger – mostly for showing the console’s TV capabilities more than its games, its heavy-handed DRM restrictions, game-trading and swapping regulations, and the possibility of being monitored by a hellishly Orwellian Kinect + Prism co-operation. Understandably, there has been incredibly vocal resistance to these impositions via opinion articles, blogs, YouTube videos, and perhaps most importantly, memes. The outcry against Microsoft’s new and restrictive policies is an important stance for the bulk of gamers – or at least the more vocal of us – to take, if we want to have our privacy and freedoms heeded.
In response, Sony has – having listened to hashtag-campaigns such as #PS4NoDRM and #PS4UsedGames – responded amicably. Sony’s PR team have been working tirelessly to create an aggressive and self-aware brand for the PS4’s public front, which has earned them the unspoken title of the clear favourite for E3 2013 so far. Despite this, there still has been no official statement from Sony about the PS4’s. There is space for them to still drop that bombshell on us at their E3 conference. With Microsoft taking that road, Sony already has backup. Gamers would then have an alternative only in the Ouya and Wii U. But we still have to wait to see what happens, though as of now, Sony is looking sharp and has us all swooning.
The PS4 is being heralded and the Xbox One lambasted, and this is all with good reason. The Xbox One’s policies are far removed from what gamers expect, and naturally it is good that this is heard, but how far will this go? If Microsoft continues this public-relations spiral, and their sales suffer proportionally, is that really a good thing? The Microsoft-Sony-Nintendo three-way competition has been going for many years already, and it is this environment unarguably that has helped craft the games industry as we know it today. Each company offers different gaming experiences and IP’s, and while the concept of the third-party exclusive is dying out, first-party-developed games are stronger than ever and provide flavour to our market. Should the Xbox One suffer for its punitive measures against gamers, we have a problem, and this is still Microsoft’s fault.
By losing the support of millions of gamers, typically Xbox-specific brands will suffer. Forza, Gears of War, Fable, and others, will lose their heft and traction too. We need the Xbox One to be a success if we want the industry to stay its current self, but we also need them to hurt financially if we want the brunt of our feelings to be represented by sales numbers and not angry tweets.
My personal stance is one of regret. I feel Microsoft should pay the price for their actions, and whether it means the changing of the face of gaming as we know it, it’s worth it to preserve the dignity and freedom of our international community.
What Should Be Done?
We need to keep complaining. The attitude we maintain against DRM and always-online requirements is a good thing, and we should never view it as whining or self-entitled. Many people are going into E3 this year short-sighted. It’s a crucial moment – as it is every year – for all of us, and this year poses risk of a massive change. Nothing is traditional, the conference itself is changing, and with the ever-burgeoning presence and involvement of connectivity in our lifestyles and games, the outcomes and responses in the wake of Microsoft’s conference specifically determine the direction we all take in the years to come. Consequently, it is up to us to let it be known that we want to trade games freely, and play without the oppressive concern that we’re being monitored. That’s a bizarre state to introduce to a household and it makes me personally uncomfortable that anyone would easily accept these realities.
Strangely, Microsoft supporters (whilst defecting in droves) are stalwartly sticking to their brand loyalty, and this is blindness. It’s the same fervour seen in religious fanatics, and that undying zeal is unhealthy. It promises support to products and companies no matter what happens – meaning they can do anything and still have cash guaranteed to them. This unhealthy mentality is something hard to expunge, and something that makes the console wars as unpleasant as we know they are.
This mindless support is what I’m afraid will be provided to Microsoft and their Xbox One. Gamers need to know to not compromise. The allure of a console’s pros shouldn’t override what we sacrifice to enjoy them. We need to keep making the noise we make, and representing ourselves and what we want and don’t want. If we succeed in that, it won’t matter as much if the Xbox One is met with failure or success, because what will be accomplished is a failure to settle for anything less than we deserve, and a unified voice for the protection of our rights. And unification in self-respect is far more powerful than unification in blind loyalty.