Editor's Opinion: The Right Moves
Posted by Ken Barnes
We prefer to think before reacting, here on the good ship Pure Xbox. We don’t jump in to start firing shots at our competitors with ill-thought-out and rapidly-penned missives when news goes down, just because we see an opportune moment. We report the news and we focus on one company’s hardware, sure, but we don’t start running our mouths about how “our” system is better than “their” system at every turn. We aren’t salesmen who are trying to push the latest console from “our” company onto you, just so we’ll end up with a few more friends when it all shakes down. The reason you don’t see “Oh my! This game runs in 1080p!” here every time an announcement of such is made is because we’re aware that there’s a heck of a lot more to gaming than graphics. We'll report the news when a company confirms resolution and framerates, sure. But we aren't boastful about it. Not that we would have had much of a chance to be anyway of late, but I digress…
Games Not Consoles (Reprise)
As we alluded to on our Twitter account yesterday, we’re actual gamers who are more interested in games than being on the winning team. Which is kind of handy, given the position that we're in. Yes, I've said this before. No, I don't apologise for saying it again. We don’t allow fanboys to spew bile about “Xbots” and the “Sony Defence Force” in our comments sections. But how on earth could we enforce that policy whilst writing like fanboys ourselves in the articles that the comments are attached to? Does refusing to pander to the lowest common denominator make us less popular? Sure it does. After all, dumb folks are attracted to false controversy, outrage, and a few other things that we don’t go for. Just look at reality TV if you need proof of that.
But by not pandering, we get to hold on to some measure of integrity as a result and when we’ve made our millions (or more likely, when we’re summing up our lives in the back room of the poor house) we can say that we did our best and that we did it without having to resort to slinging mud. We tried to see the good in things and enjoyed what we did. We were honest. We allowed ourselves to be delighted by games, without resorting to cynicism at every turn. Or at the very least, that we did our best without conveniently forgetting things such as the company we cover hurriedly throwing accelerometers into their controller two weeks before unveiling it to the world, simply because motion control seemed to be a bit popular at the time.
Sorry. That one got through. I’m not a machine.
In short, corporate mouthpieces we are not, ladies and gentlemen, and never will we be.
I'm telling you this, why?
All of this clarification is to explain why this once-short article is turning up the day after Microsoft made several big announcements, and not twenty minutes after it all went down. I could have run with “Oh boy! The PlayStation 4 is in trouble now! Microsoft just opened up the hardware race again!” at half past five yesterday evening, but I decided against it because that patently isn’t true and I prefer to deal in facts. Sure, the hardware race is now looking more like an actual race again as opposed to the foregone conclusion that it appeared to be, but only a fool would make the mistake of failing to see that there’s a heck of a way to go for Microsoft, and that Sony are way out in front.
It isn’t just in sales numbers, either. Since from the very day that the Xbox One was unveiled - right up until Phil Spencer took the wheel, coincidentally enough - Microsoft has been making mistakes. The DRM policies. The TV fiasco. A lack of anything to rival PlayStation Plus. Kinect being forced upon users. Entertainment apps that you have to subscribe to, before paying Microsoft another premium in order to actually get to them. Ludicrously priced micro-transactions and DLC. The list goes on. Most people will see all of those things as being bad, right? So how can Microsoft taking positive corrective steps to fix those things also be bad? I don’t understand that.
"We're losing a bucketful of hopes and dreams from a device that isn’t anywhere near polished enough for regular consumer use."
Sure, it’s a shame to lose the promise of Kinect. But unless you like voice commands that are incredibly hit-and-miss (the people that have them working properly seem to love them, mind you) you have to think that all we’re really losing is exactly that. Promise. A bucketful of hopes and dreams from a device that isn’t anywhere near polished enough for regular consumer use. What games will people miss out on if they don’t have a Kinect device? Kinect Sports Rivals? Big deal. It isn’t a great game. What else?
Exactly. It would have been nice to have seen more developers working on Kinect-specific projects but facts are facts, and it just isn’t happening so far. Let’s not forget either that although taking Kinect out of the box will limit the installed userbase of the device, it isn’t dead by any means. Everybody who owns an Xbox One so far also owns a Kinect device – that’s 5 million or so people (or it will be, once all those "shipped" consoles actually sell) - and the thing will be available to buy separately if people who pick up a standalone console do want to add it on later, so there’s still potential for new games and experiences to come to the fore. I dare say that we’ll see a couple at E3. In fact, I guarantee it.
As for everything else that went down yesterday aside from Kinect, they’re steps in the right direction. You could call the decisions a collective bunch of “one-eighty” moves, if that is what you want to do, but surely it’s better to turn around and walk the right way down a path when you realise that you’re walking directly away from where you want to be? Of course there will always be people who say that no matter what the company does, games like Sunset Overdrive won't be any good because they don't run in 1080p (although the clock hasn't run out on that particular title just yet), but they're the ones that will be missing out in the long run. Spare a thought or two for those guys, I say. Think about what a hard time they must have had so far. They haven't been able to enjoy 99% of games released in the last 30 or so years, because those games didn't run at the maximum resolution that their TV could support. That makes me feel sad for them, it really does.
Cheap sarcasm aside, for all but the most blinkered of gamers, yesterday was a good day. Free games. Discounted games. Free access to applications. Cheaper consoles. More competition.
Now, what’s not to love about that?