I have a history with Xbox.
The first console was my introduction to the idea of a multi-media device. I skipped PS2, so the plucky upstart system with its hard drive, remote add-on accessible DVD playback and mp3-ripping shenanigans blew my fragile mind when I bought one. Selling my system also helped fund my wife’s engagement ring, back in the day – I’d like to see the world-conquering Sony platform of the time claim that as a system feature.
Similarly, I was all over the Xbox 360 – which, for a time, fulfilled a special place in my wife’s gaming life as a dedicated “Burnout Paradise” platform. That was more or less all she played for months. Before that, her jam of choice was “Viva Pinata”, a bundled title I chose along with “Project Gotham Racing 3” as the advertised “Gears of Wars” was out of stock at our local retailer.
When I think of the time that I spent enjoying the adventures of Fenix and Delta Squad, that latter factoid can’t help but tickle me.
Why does this post seem like a fond farewell rather than a hopeful view of the Xbox’s future? Last night’s unveiling of the new Xbox One console would appear to be the point at which I bid adieu to a gaming platform which has given me a lot of enjoyment and which no longer wants me as a customer.
Enforced use of Kinect, always-on internet connectivity, mandatory disc installation, the breathtaking arrogance of a company who don’t want you to loan a game to a friend so that they can try it out, a predictable but still infuriating effort to market exclusively towards beer-chugging American man-children – if any of these take-away nuggets of stupidity from last night’s conference prove to be wrong, by all means call me out on it, but I think we both know that Microsoft’s cards are on the table.
They’re rattled by mobile, tablet and evolving gaming sectors which didn’t exist when the 360 launched, so are retreating to an audience they know will pay a premium for Xbox One to play this year’s iteration of “Call of Duty” and “Battlefield” ad nauseum and not mind being told how they are going to use the system that they, you know, actually paid money for.
A games console which constantly monitors the living room and feeds back to God who knows back in MS HQ? You can stick it.