By Jeff Neuenschwander / December 31st, 2013
1. The Xbox One Reveal and Backlash
Oh, Xbox One, you are the gift that keeps on giving. You were like a self-opening piñata from the time you were announced.
It all started back in May when Microsoft held a Next-Gen Xbox reveal on their campus in Redmond, Washington. From the moment that Don Mattrick announced the name of Xbox One, the jokes literally started writing themselves (Final Score: PlayStation 4, Xbox 1). When we first saw the console, visions of VHS and Betamax came dancing into our heads. And when there was awkward applause during segments that really shouldn’t have had it, we were comforted in the fact that the families of Microsoft employees would still have their parents income after doing their job that day.
Yeah, there was also that Steven Spielberg bit, but not many people remembered that after the conference. Why? Because there was a Mo-Cap dog on the screen! That’s why!
Oh yeah, and Microsoft decided to make rather draconian changes to the way you own your games on a home console.
Here’s what was revealed after the conference: instead of the old fashion way of needing a disc to play games, you would install your games onto the console and never need the disc afterwards. So, does the disc become useless after that? Well, not really. The game is still on the disc and can still be traded around. It’s just that the person that uses it next needs to pay Microsoft full price after trading games with another gamer.
In addition to that, the Xbox One would be an always connected console. However, you could play your games offline for a period of time before having to be connected again. How long, you ask? 24 hours.
Yeah, that’s not the type of thinking that console gamers are used to. You may remember back during this whole debacle that staff writer Guy Rainey and I did a couple of debate articles on issues that arose from the reveal of the Xbox One (you can see these here and here). While we had quite different opinions on the two issues we featured, we both agreed on many others, including the fact that the potential DRM policies were harmful to console gaming as well as the console just generally being unfriendly to people in rural areas that have spotty internet connections at best due to the always online feature.
Can you see why console gamers rejoiced when Sony announced that you could still do everything you did before with the PS4? This wasn’t gamers not being ready for the next evolution in gaming. This was the console sector telling Microsoft to stick it.
The thing with console gaming is that it’s about compromise. On one side, you have the console maker that creates a standard for developers to follow. While this is convenient for the developers, the gamers accept that they won’t have the same graphics that PCs will. Let’s face it: even the PS4 with all its power still won’t look as good as a high-end computer, especially in five years. However, in return we are given things like lower prices and the ability to trade or resell our games — which is a right protected under the First-Sale Doctrine in U.S. copyright and trademark law. PC people never had that option; and it shows when Microsoft- with its PC background- tried to implement those policies.
So, after the tag team of House and Tretton thoroughly smashed the Xbox One, Microsoft conceded and changed course, removing all the new policies (which you will need the initial update to complete). And to close out that weird time in console gaming history, Don Mattrick resigned in shame.
Or maybe he was forced out…
Well, either way, he’s now at Zynga. And we get to sit back, relax, and watch our favorite console game: “How many new Xbox’s will break this year.”
And those are our Top Gaming Moments of 2013. Agree? Disagree? Think we left something out? Let us know in the comments.
And stay with us next year. Starting tomorrow, we’ve got something special for all of you.
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