With E3 blowing up this week there has been a deluge of video games news. The juiciest bits were undoubtedly the pricing and the new Xbox One and PS4 systems, followed very shortly by millions of nerds and fanboys like myself collectively scratching their heads over some of the policies being announced by Microsoft.
The biggest kerfluffle, and the one that still seems to be the sticking point after lots of PR backpedaling and clarifications, is the always online nature of the Xbox One. I personally don’t have a big problem with the 24 hour checks back to home base to determine you’re playing a game licensed to you because I rarely trade in games and I can count on one hand the number of times my internet has been out in the last ten years or so.
However, I realize I am not the only person in the world who buys video games. There are big chunks of the United States where broadband internet is not so prevalent as it is here in metropolitan mecca of the southwest, lovely Phoenix Arizona.
At Microsoft, Don Mattrick has said that if you need an offline console experience, you’ve got an Xbox 360 to take care of you.
As a consumer this says to me “I don’t care about your dollars if you don’t have a consistent internet connection.” Is there a more blatant way of telling a certain number of people not to send their money that direction? Is there anything less consumer friendly? It basically means that you can’t play new games on new hardware if you can’t fit into the square hole of the demographic they’ve designed their system for.
When Mr. Mattrick says go play a 360 if you need to be offline he is discounting his competition. A PS4, architecturally similar to an XB One, will play many of the same 3rd party games and not require you to be online to do it. Microsoft has essentially ceded a certain demographic to their competition with this policy, and it’s a stupid move.
I prefer to play my 360 over my PS3 when I’m gaming, but if all things are equal -excluding the fact that I can play my games with a PS4 if/when my ISP is having a bad day – I think a lot of consumers will go that way. The internet hubbub certainly seems to point that direction.
But launch for these two systems is still a few months off, and Microsoft theoretically has time to change their tune before they drive a big wedge between themselves and a large segment of the video game playing audience.