Don’t become a Sony fanboy just yet

Please Don’t Bring Back The Console Wars:

I mean, come on. Let’s stop pretending Sony is valiant. If they were so committed to the idea of used games, why didn’t they announce this policy in February? Microsoft made a move and Sony reacted; fine, it was the smart thing to do in context.

But did you notice how every time Sony referred to “used games” they made sure to include the modifier “disc-based”? Did you also notice how Sony, much more than Microsoft, has emphasized the game-streaming capabilities of its new console? If you think that Sony is going to let you freely trade digitally-downloaded and streaming games, which are going to be all games in the near future, I have a piece of swampland in You’re a Fucking Moron to sell you. Sony is not some noble underdog. They are the company that won the last console generation by selling SIX TIMES as many PlayStation 2s as Microsoft sold Xboxs, and the one before that by selling three times as many PlayStations as Nintendo sold N64s. (And, less than 24 hours after receiving an internet handjob for his company’s supposedly benevolent used game policy, Tretton is already walking it back.)

I don’t plan on buying a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One. They’re both basically PCs – most games will be available on the PC at or around the same time and with Steam I’ll be able to get them at significant discounts.

What the next generation of video games needs to succeed

playstation 4 controller

Clifford Unchained – 4th and Inches for Sony

My biggest thing about this “Next Next Gen” is that the biggest winner will be the one who has several things going for them:

  • The games. It’s all about the games.
  • The ecosystem. Apple knows that Itunes and the App store are a HUGE factor in their success.
  • The ability to remain adaptable in a fast moving world. Fast title updates from developers. The “Minecraft test.” If the hardware is great and the system sound then the biggest deciding factor will be how much each console creator allows the community to take over in an organic fashion. It sounds like the Sharing feature is a great step. The next one? Indie games, mods, user levels…you know, the things that the PC is so darned good at.

This is exactly how the next generation console war will be won. Consoles can no longer rely solely on their first and third party games to “win the war.” Robust game libraries are a must, of course, but they must be combined with robust media ecosystems and more PC-like interaction models. Sony is certainly attempting to do this with the PlayStation 4.

Take the Xbox 360, which has remained the best selling console on a month-to-month basis for well over a year now. The Xbox is more than just a game console. It is a brand associated with media, from music to movies to games. Games and the operating system are updated on a frequent basis, in a fashion not so dissimilar from the PC updates consumers have come to expect. As a result of this evolution of the Xbox, Microsoft stands on a much stronger foundation than its competitors moving into the next generation.

What if the next Xbox is subsidized?

xbox 360 console controller

Chris Kohler:

With all this in mind, there should be no question that Microsoft’s pitch for its eventual new console, right from the off, will be: This plays games, but it’s not for gamers any more than an iPad is just for gamers. Everybody watches TV, so everybody wants an Xbox to give them a heightened experience. If someday you find yourself caught in a downpour and duck into the nearest doorway and thereby accidentally enter a Microsoft store, you would be able to buy an Xbox on a cell-phone style plan, paying $99 for the box if you subscribe to two years of the Xbox Live service. That’s today. What if that’s the whole pitch for the next Xbox? What if Sony’s machine is $500 and Microsoft’s is $100? That would be the Bambi vs. Godzilla of console wars.

The fact that Xbox Live has been a paid service for so long makes this a viable option for Microsoft. People are already used to the idea of paying to play online, and most consumers are fine with paying more in the long run to pay less upfront for the actual device (see: smartphones).

Next Xbox to use online DRM to block used games?

Report: Next Xbox will use persistent ’Net connection to block used games | Ars Technica:

A new report from insider sources suggests that Microsoft’s next video game console will require a persistent Internet connection to lock out second-hand games from being played on the system.

Edge is citing “sources with first-hand experience of Microsoft’s next generation console” saying that games for the system will be available via download or as Blu-ray discs with a capacity of up to 50GB. The disc-based games will reportedly all ship with an activation code tying the game to a single user account, making the disc essentially worthless on the second-hand market.

No more trading games in at GameStop or lending to your friends if this is true. That’s pretty stupid, but given the way DRM has been moving in recent years on the PC, not completely out of left-field. I’m fine either way, thanks to Valve’s Steam Summer/Holiday sales and a Dell XPS desktop that should last me a solid 4 years or so if I update the graphics card in a year or two and don’t mind running less than max-quality graphics.

(Via @ajyasgar)