Help me, pX Community, for I am confused.
I've been trying to work out why Xbox fans would boycott a video game that they want (not that they actually will, given that it's all talk and standard internet rage and we LOVE looking for things to be outraged about now) because it's coming out on another platform as well as the originally announced platform. Also, why they'd get angry enough to sling personal insults my way because of it when I'm on their team. I don't care about the insults and threats - I've written about games for years so somewhat sadly, I'm like Teflon when it comes to that trash - but I'm a bit puzzled by the point of it all.
Just a week ago, they were hyped up, psyched up and ready for wildin' with Remedy's new game. They've frothed at the mouth and smashed controllers to bits in excitement with every new screenshot and even the slimmest sliver of new information about Quantum Break. They put all their stock in the game - usually ignoring the waves of quality games that are being released each week because they're indie titles and obviously can't possibly be good, of course – and then as soon as Microsoft says "oh, and by the way, Windows 10 gamers will be able to play Quantum Break too" they throw a hissy fit and fire up the boycott machine.
For all four people who do eventually pointlessly boycott the game, I admire your will. For the rest of the people who are starting petitions, firing out death threats, and otherwise acting like absolute toolbags…don't let the door tan your arse on the way out. You identify as "gamer" and every tweet you post ends with "#XboxFamily" (as if that means something) and then when a platform holder tries to make more money that'll be poured into the industry AT NO EXPENSE TO YOURSELF, you start crying and make us all look bad.
Nothing has changed for you. No. Nothing. No…I mean it. Really. No. No. Shut up. No. Silence! No. OK, ENOUGH.
Seriously, nothing has changed for you. The game you wanted to play is still coming out for a console that you own. Well alright, something has changed. You now get a free copy of the Windows 10 version of the game to play if you want to. Poor you. The end. Right? Only, it isn't the end. Why? Well, it seems that these people are in the business of constructing strawmen to cover their incredibly obvious agenda, which isn't as hidden as they think.
"The Timing Annoys Me"
The main complaint coming at the Xbox management team says that the timing of the announcement is the problem. The person complaining wouldn't have purchased an Xbox One if he or she knew the game was coming out on Windows 10. It's a fair point.
A fair point, of course, if we ignore the obvious. This specific complaint seems to be coming from people who own other Xbox One games and play them. A quick look at their Twitter accounts shows stacks of annoying Raptr auto-tweets and TrueAchievements updates about their Xbox One games. If we ignore that, I still have a question, and that question is: Why would you buy an Xbox One months before the "only" game you want to play on it comes out, when the prices of games consoles fluctuate so frequently?
If you bought the Xbox One at Christmas, chances are you'd be able to save a few bucks if you'd just waited until the game launched in April. After all, if the argument is to hold water, these people can't have had any enjoyment out of the console so far and indeed purchased it with no exclusive games. Who genuinely keeps a new console in their house for four months until the one game they want to play on it comes out, and does absolutely nothing else with it during that time?
"PC Players Get Xbox Live For Free"
Another of the arguments, it seems, is that PC owners will get access to Xbox Live features for free while Xbox One owners have to pay. I can see that argument, if the only feature of Xbox Live that you use is multiplayer gaming and the only game you play is one of the ones that are in the spotlight.
However, if you've played or play a single one of the 100 (102 as of Tuesday) Games with Gold offerings that have been provided since the scheme launched, then the argument fails. Although the games are perceived to be free by some (such as myself, since I wasn't charged any more for the subscription and games just started being added for nothing) they actually aren't. Your Xbox Live subscription provides you with continued access to those games. If you take part in any of the Gold Play Days events where you can download a full title and play it for a weekend, the argument fails. If you purchase a game at 80% off because you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription and fancy something in the Deals with Gold weekly list, the argument fails. Game Preview trials are only available to Xbox Live Gold subscribers too, so if you've trialled Elite: Dangerous, Sheltered, or any of the other games on the service, the argument fails. Also, the argument fails if you enjoy playing your friends online in any of the 275 or so Xbox One titles currently on release around the world that aren't included in this new wave of Xbox One/Windows 10 releases. Play Forza Motorsport 6 against your buddies? Windows 10 gamers can't. How about Halo 5: Guardians? Again, Windows 10 gamers can't. Not only that, but they won't be able to play those games in future (most likely) despite the fact that Quantum Break is coming to Windows 10.
Plus, who cares? The price of Xbox Live hasn't gone up for Xbox One owners. I bought Sonic 3 on the Sega Megadrive back in 1995 for £50. My friend missed out at that time, and downloaded it over a decade later to play on Xbox 360 for less than a tenth of that. What my friend paid for a game did not affect my enjoyment of it one iota. The fact that he now owned the game ENHANCED my enjoyment of it in fact, because we could have a conversation about it. The same will happen for me with Quantum Break. I'm not much of a PC gamer, but I'll chat about it with my friends who are. Enhanced enjoyment, because I love gaming and talking about gaming, and I still only pay what I was expecting to pay anyway.
"Microsoft Are Abandoning the Xbox One"
The concerns for the future of the console and Microsoft's focus on it are pretty misguided, too, mainly for the reasons in the Xbox Live complaint.
PC owners don't pay for Xbox Live online play. Xbox One owners do. Xbox Live makes Microsoft a LOT of money. So, why would Microsoft intentionally screw over 19 million Xbox One owners who potentially (not all of them subscribe to Xbox Live Gold, of course) could be paying them on a monthly basis for a service that costs the company a fraction of the sale price and which only incurs new development costs if they decide to add new features? Think about it.
On top of that, there are already a LOT of Windows 10 PCs out there. 19 million people own Xbox One consoles. Windows 10 is installed on 200 million devices as of January 2016. Of course, not all of those machines will be suitable for playing Quantum Break on, but you have to think that at the absolute minimum, Microsoft has just quadrupled the potential player base for the game. And when a less-than-hardcore PC player spins up the game, enjoys it, and fancies playing through it on their couch, what do you think they'll do? Move the PC across or into the lounge? Run a massively long cable to the TV and hope the controller has enough range? Buy a new PC to fit next to the TV? Or will they at the very least consider purchasing an Xbox One? That consideration - no matter how fleeting it may be - is worth a lot of money to Microsoft in the long run, and it costs them very little.
Not only that, but by launching it for Windows 10, they're encouraging uptake of their latest operating system. There are so many upsides for Microsoft with absolutely no real downsides for Xbox One gamers that it just beggar's belief that people can't see it.
It's smart business.
So, what's the real reason for the outrage?
Well, if you haven't worked it out, the anger, the rage, the balled-up fists and wailing, whiny, impotent Tweets all come down to one thing.
The ragers want a list of exclusive titles to lord over their PlayStation 4-owning friends (and people they've never met who dare to say something positive about a PlayStation 4 game online) and with Microsoft's announcement, that list becomes shorter in their eyes. Full exclusives become console exclusives. PlayStation 4 fanboys get the idea that their console of choice has suddenly seen an increase in perceived value and Xbox One fanboys suddenly don't have "LOOK AT OUR EXCLUSIVES" to throw back at them.
They can dress it up all they want, but those are the brass tacks of the situation.
For gamers..."true" gamers..."hardcore" gamers (not the people that claim to be those things at every possible turn, but the people who are those things and shut up about it because they're - y'know - playing and discussing games) the game is the important thing, no matter where you play it or who else has access to it. I must have misunderstood. Is it just me that wants to share this superb entertainment medium with as many people as possible? If more people can play a game that looks like it'll be great, that's fantastic, surely? That's more money for the publisher and the developer and a greater chance that they'll make sequels and new shiny things, right? Apparently not.
Gaming isn't about who "wins" and who "loses" every month in the NPD race. It isn't about who paid the least money. It isn't about who gets the best games every month as part of their subscription, nor whether or not you declare yourself to be an "Xbox Loyalist" or constantly declare how "proud" you are to be an Xbox owner or something equally as tragic. On that note, pride is for achievements, your family, and your country. Owning an Xbox One is not an achievement. If it is, then I'm a proud Tassimo owner, a Parker loyalist when it comes to pens and God help anyone that buys me a branded extension cord because I'm in the #UnbrandedExtensionCordFamily. Neither is gaming about whether every tweet you send copies in @XboxP3, @AaronGreenberg and the general Xbox account as if you're desperately hoping for a badge or other tchotchke of recognition for spending money on a product from a multi-billion dollar corporation. They care about you insomuch that you're one of 19 million or so people who bought a product that they produce. If you have some misguided idea that everyone at the company is suddenly your best friend because of that and that every decision they make should be run past you, then you genuinely need assistance because you're a danger to yourself.
Microsoft isn't there to help you win a pointless argument against someone who likes a different thing. They're there to earn money. It may seem hypocritical for a single-format site editor to be saying these things, but though I love the Xbox platform, this just happens to be the job that I was hired for. What we've seen this week - including the weak threats and unoriginal insults that have come my way (FROM XBOX FANS, no less, because obviously I'm on Microsoft's payroll and it's all my fault) - shows that brand loyalty can completely addle the mind, turning into fanaticism and convincing people that they're owed something by that very brand that they adore.
The fact that they start crying like little kids when they don't get it only strengthens the theory.
My advice to these raging crybabies is primarily to get help, but to also shut up and play Quantum Break when it comes out as they were going to originally. Play other games on your Xbox One and enjoy them. Get involved in the ecosystem if you want to improve the brand, sure, but stop with the "platform wars" crap and if you're going to carry on with that nonsense, at least be honest about it.
Looking over the fence constantly to see whether another person has more than you is weak sauce. The only time you should do that in life is to make sure that they have enough.