img src=";loc=300;key=key1+key2+key3+key4;grp=[group]" border="0" width="160" height="600"> The inner ramblings of a videogamer: Xboned: A bleak future for gaming.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Xboned: A bleak future for gaming.

I'll apologise now because this may very well be a long read, so first just let me get this out of the way so I can get on with the topic at hand.

As much as it may be hard to believe regarding most gamers these days I am in fact not a fanboy, I'm a gamer 1st and foremost, I pledge no loyalty or allegiance to any of the big 3, that being said I have enjoyed all of the consoles since the NES all the way up to the 7th gen, I certainly have had my preferences but they never got in the way of my purchasing a new console to play an intriguing exclusive, however this coming 8th gen I will for the 1st time not be buying each of the current gen consoles, this is due to the shockingly ludicrous restrictions MS wishes to impose on their consumers with the release of the Xbox One, or better yet the un-endearingly but oddly accurately nicknamed, Xbone.

I had asked myself months prior to the Microsoft reveal event "what direction could Microsoft possibly take with their inevitable nextbox?" the answer didn't seem to be quite as obvious as that of Sony and Nintendo's new direction, which I remember being pretty much on par with what I had expected, Nintendo announcing a new controller interface and continuing to push out their popular franchises along with the hopes of gaining more 3rd party support, and Sony's move to integrating social media while focusing primarily on the games, bar a couple of surprises like the Nintendo tablet controller and Sony's neat little share button function which is nice if no restrictions are enforced, I soon realised that the trouble I was having understanding where MS was heading next was due to an apparent lack of direction the company had been showing, sure MS had been adding more indie game titles and applications like Netflicks and many other media applications, I had just passed this off as making the fee for Xbox Live gold seem more enticing to potential customers, but where were the games? Halo, Forza, Fable and Gears can't keep exclusively carrying the Xbox brand especially when MS keep loosing what exclusives they have.

And here we finally get to the the matter at hand.

After the Microsoft reveal it became all too clear that MS no longer plans to even try and run in the same race as Sony or even Nintendo for that matter, nope they have their eyes set on bigger things, they want a slice of that "Apple pie" and by that I mean they want to turn the Xbone into be the next iPhone, and by that I mean an all in one multi-media entertainment device that aims to fulfil pretty much every entertainment need you could desire, from watching TV on your TV to accessing social media websites and even ordering Pizza, and most of these functions can be done hands free by using the voice commands made doable by the Kinect 2... now the fact that MS even developed the Kinect 2 should be enough for most gamers to realise how out of touch they are with core gamers, but hey if the core gamers are no longer MS's core demographic then it makes a lot of sense right? So some of you may still be thinking "Hey that's pretty cool, count me in" right? well no, and here's the thing, this WILL all come at a price, and that price unfortunately is your consumer rights.

So how does Microsoft's Xbone try to strip away your consumer rights I here you ask? well for one thing you no longer own the copy of a game even if you bought it brand new, all you are doing is renting the rights to play the content on the disc, and speaking of on disc content, hard copy's of games bought for the Xbone are now nothing more than glorified installation discs, as every game must be installed on "your" console and tied to "your" separate user account in order to actually play it, the biggest kicker for me is the restrictions being placed on second hand games, now if you don't already know this in order to play second hand games on the Xbone you must pay a fee to the publishers, I'm hearing rumours that the fee will be equivalent to the price of a new game, doubtful although history has taught me that when it comes to MS if it's too bad be to true it probably is...

The problem here is that second hand game retails will no longer be able to sell used games at a profit, actually given the new information that has come to light on MS's official Xbox website, only selected stores will even be given permission to sell second hand Xbone games, so good by second hand game retailers, but why should you care right? publishers don't get any revenue from the sale of used games? well true but second hand game retailers are necessary, for one thing they help keep the economy going with literally hundreds of games being brought in daily for trade or cash back and then those same games being sold on again to new gamers, also it's literally impossible to prove that the sale of a used game effects the sale of a new version because chances are most gamers buying used do so for lack of funds to be able to purchase new in the 1st place, "but why don't they just save up for longer to buy it new?" I hear you ask, well for one thing the sale of almost any second hand product is considered legal and most company's, like the manufacturers of cars, bikes, instruments, even movies don't much mind the second hand sale of their items, well to be honest none of them are happy about it but it is a consumer right to be able to sell and trade that which you own, with MS's Xbone however they want to strip away that consumer right in order to monopolise the distribution of their games, so what do you think happens when Microsoft have full control of when, where and how you buy, play and sell your games? well if you think it will lead to lower prices think again, if anything a company having the monopoly of a product has only ever been a negative, you can expect a slow transition over to digital only content which will not be followed by a drop in price, but will most likely make any attempt to re-sell your game pretty mush impossible because as of yet their is no way to trade games in a digital format.

Now if all this wasn't bad enough you should also know that Microsoft has come under accusation of participating in the NSAs (National Security Agency) PRISM Data-Gathering Schemeare, basically this company performs data mining "whats that?" well see, there are many other well know names affiliated with PRISM, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and more, and each one is able to pass along your personal information, such as your Google search history, Facebook pictures, birth date and so on, so that they can tailor Internet ads and other such profit making applications to meet your liking, this all seems to be in the name of maximising profits, but if you have not signed up for this or are un-aware of it entirely then you may very well not feel comfortable with your personal information floating around online for others to view and exploit in the name of profit, not to mention that their is no way in knowing exactly who is privy to all this information, not so long ago now Microsoft where caught spying on peoples conversation over Skype so who's to say they won't be doing the same thing with the Kinect 2?.

So what does this all have to do with gaming anyway? I mean many of us are only just hearing about the NSA and PRISM right?, well here's the thing, if Microsoft are collecting personal data/information, which they most likely are since they've been caught spying on people already, then what is it for? well it could all be completely harmless, if MS want to make their new console a multimedia entertainment device then incorporating data mining and tailoring desktop ads and other such information to meet the potential desires of each individual user, well that sounds pretty interesting, especially since they wish to integrate their system with social media sites such as facebook and twitter where data mining is also going on, then the ability to customise the users experience with content tailored to their needs would certainly be interesting and definitely something yet unprecedented, however that's if we all are willing to ignore a couple o' things.

It is very likely that your Skype calls will be being listened in on for buzz words or any such thing that could be used for you or against you, the Kinect 2 is able track your movements and can even tell how many people are in a room at once, it is also possible for Kinect 2 to ascertain your current mood, so in theory Microsoft would have access to what you like and dislike what, what makes you happy and what makes you sad and then use all this information in order to sell you more content they believe would strike a positive vibe with you.

Now look, I'm no conspiracy theorist, I don't stay up at night wondering if my laptops listening to me, but I think it's important to look at Microsoft's direction and ask if it's really the direction that would benefit consumers, or one that is to simply maximise profits no matter how invasive or restrictive the means may be.

At this point the games MS announce at E3 mean little to me, there is too much information that has not yet come to light, there are too many questions left up in the air, the potential for the Xbone to be a surveillance box that restricts gamers consumer rights they have enjoyed since this hobby began, the invasion of privacy posed by the fact that Microsoft are pushing for a camera in everyones living room, and the fact they are affiliated with a data-mining agency just does not sit well with me...

To summarise, what worries me here is what if these restrictions on consumer rights and invasions of privacy start becoming the norm amongst each and every platform?

Well, If you've made it this far then thank you, and I'm sorry this was such a lengthy blog, but as you can see I had a lot to say and I didn't want to leave anything I deemed important out.

Anyway, as always thanks for reading my blog, I'm aware that not everyone will agree with me and if you still wish to purchase the Xbone, well that's your choice, I personally believe that by doing so you will be contributing to the downfall of gaming as we know it and the freedoms we enjoy, but again that's entirely your choice.

As always please do leave a comment.

Don't forget to follow The inner ramblings of a videogamer on Facebook, Twitter and Google +