My Sentiments Exactly: The Devil in Green
We were all irked by the atrocious press the Xbox One got, in fact some of their theologies and ideologies were downright outrageous and completely misleading. Now after having apparently had a change of heart in regards to the Xbox One, the devil in green Don Mattrick has jumped ship to the murky waters of the always-online-games-company, Zynga. Don Mattrick, if you weren’t aware, was the Interactive Entertainment Business President behind the Xbox One, and oh boy how he landed another job is beyond me.
I’ve been hesitant writing articles on the Xbox One because Microsoft possibly had the worst PR that I’ve seen to date. Not only could they not deliver concise answers, they also couldn’t keep the information consistent, instead leaving a miasma of bullshit and in cases outright lies. It’s been a hazy journey through the Xbox One’s launch, and I’d say it’s pretty safe to say that should Microsoft lose the ‘console war’ this generation, it’s firmly on the shoulders of Mattrick.
The first and foremost on the battalion of bull bravely led by Mattrick was the DRM fiasco, wanting to constantly monitor which console your games are being played on, who is playing them, going so far as to have voice activation for each user’s account. The level of DRM Microsoft wanted to impose, and made it out to be, was not only treading on the toes of the consumer but hammering the consumer’s feet to the floor just to make sure they didn’t run away while they stamped on them. People were, at first, hesitant and reluctant about Sony’s new console when some months ago an RFID patent was discovered that would bind games to the console; did Microsoft’s ubiquitous research team somehow miss that?
Of course, this wasn’t actually the case; under the now old DRM scheme, you would need to be connected OR have the disc in the console to play the game (although the game would still read from hard drive, it’d verify via the disc) so long as you had been online with the game at least once to bind it to your account. Instead we got Mattrick being facetious, rude, and outright ignorant of consumer needs saying the people without a solid connection should just buy an Xbox 360 instead. He could have diffused the situation, but in that moment of volatile insurgence he decided it would be better to stand militantly behind his design decisions and lash out at concerned consumers.
On the flip side of the marketing fiasco, one thing that made a brief nuance in the room for consumers was the family share function. Up to 10 people in your ‘family’ could share games, they so intrepidly boasted; what a lie that was. The game sharing policy in effect, allowed someone to play one of your games for an hour. That’s it – a glorified demo system (and by the way, demos have shown to be reasonably counterproductive) that makes a user download a full game to play an hour of it. That’s not sharing, Microsoft, that’s actually known among the general populace as viral marketing – ‘persuade your friends to play games that you own!’, says the multinational profit monger.
And yet, to complete the triangle of cock-ups Microsoft actually managed to butcher their press a third time; if you watched the Xbox One unveiling, you might’ve noticed between the TV adverts and ‘Microsoft branded set top box press’ that they boasted ‘the power of the cloud’ time after time. What they didn’t reveal was that they had plans to enhance gameplay through use of ‘cloud servers’, for those of you that have experimented with OnLive and video game streaming, take that concept but then divide the load between the hardware in front of you and the cloud computing servers. They wanted to make your games better by offloading calculations for volumetric lighting, certain pathing algorithms, and other undisclosed ways. The stark reality is, little of this information ever reached the consumer’s ears.
And here’s the cherry on top, if it weren’t enough that Microsoft and Mattrick had practically run a smear campaign against themselves, they then made their hardware inaccessible to a large part of their audience. If it weren’t already atrocious that they’re only launching the Xbox One in a very small number of countries – going so far as to exclude some of the countries their developers come from (check CD Projekt and The Witcher 3) – the price outside of the US is outlandish. 429GBP and 499EU do not equate to 500 US Dollars, not even close. To give perspective on that, in the UK the Playstation 3 launched at £425 and suffered heavily because it was labelled far too expensive for the average consumer.
While sales of the Xbox One have picked up since they undid a lot of their policies, press regarding them ‘outselling the PS4’ is little more than a hollow myth at this point perpetuated by the way Sony are selling their consoles in contrast with Microsoft. If Microsoft wants to make headway with this generation, they’ve got a long and bumpy road ahead of them undoing what ‘The Devil In Green’ has done to their brand recognition before jumping ship.
As an aside, my personal recommendation for this generation of consoles is to wait. The first generation of Xbox 360s were less than stellar with overheating issues, noisy fans, low hard drive capacity and a high price tag. The Playstation 3 almost identical issues, and the bitter part is neither of them had a fantastic launch line-up of games. Don’t be too hasty to throw your money into either side of the ring, those launch titles will still be there a year down the line. Sony are by no means saints, and while Microsoft have made a jester spectacle of their shenanigans your safest bet is to give it a year or so before purchasing.