Culture

Bit Slap: Xbone 180

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Every week, Bit Slap brings you the latest in gaming news and bon mots.

Last week Microsoft unveiled a new set of plans for their controversial DRM scheme for the Xbox One, successor to the popular Xbox 360.  There was frequent outrage over the old policies, and their stance did not change once since the unveiling of the system. Microsoft employees gave different media outlets different stories, which lead to conflicting information that was finally resolved with an official press statement and website just before E3, which outlined their strategy in full.

Having a more concise message helped them deliver information better, but the content within was often described by denizens of the internet “like sticking your dick in a potato scraper.” The Xbone (as it has been lovingly dubbed) needed to phone home once a day, there were no more used games like we knew it, all games had to be installed to hard drives, and much more.

E3 rolled around and Sony was in the same position as Microsoft. They had a huge show to put on and needed to impress everyone with their new system. Sony decided to take advantage of Microsoft’s poor DRM strategy by announcing a lower price point in conjunction with this viral video that outlined their game-sharing strategy. Roars of men and women were heard from the crowd as Jack Tretton (CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America) outlined Sony’s strategy.

This, coupled with the rampant outcries from social networks and games journalists against the Xbone’s DRM culminated in what has been dubbed the Xbox 180. Don Matrick issued a press statement last week which outlined their new strategy. Gone were the restricting schemes they originally announced, and gone were many of the issues consumers had with the product. Everything will now work like the Xbox 360 and online plans such as family sharing plans have been cut.

While their technology problem has been solved, Microsoft still faces issues with consumers over their mandatory, always-listening, and always-plugged in Kinect (which can sense your pulse, engagement, and facial emotions). Whether or not they will clear that hurdle is yet to be seen, but it still appears to be of near equal issue for many consumers. Their $499 price doesn’t help them either, as Sony has a more powerful, cheaper alternative at $399 and without all the baggage attached. Both systems will launch later in Holiday 2013.

My take on it is that while it’s a great thing that the companies are listening to us (with a big thanks to social networks no doubt), it’s pretty disappointing that something as basic as consumer rights had to be so uncertain in the first place. We shouldn’t need to celebrate and cheer over someone doing the right thing. One thing is for certain; the industry wants to move towards being service-oriented while most consumers are still focused on gaming as a goods-based industry. The future of the industry and the direction it moves in will be interesting to observe, especially as more and more consumers are being converted to the all-digital future we’re told we so badly need to be a part of. Perhaps we’ll be dragged into it, kicking and screaming the whole way.