If I’ve counted correctly, I’ve lived through no less than six console generations and now the seventh is right around the corner. A lot has changed for me in the past two years that has seriously changed my video game perspective.
I grew up a Nintendo kid but then skipped to the PC then back to the console with the Playstation. I was a holdout when when the PS3 and Xbox 360 came out but thanks to some good old fashioned peer pressure, I joined the Xbox 360 side of the fight. I have few complaints about the Xbox 360 – shy of me having gone through three different consoles – but their service and games are as good as any. We always knew the 360 wouldn’t last forever but eight years is quite a life for any system. However, what I see in the next wave of machines, including the new Xbox One, is less than enticing.
As I expected, Microsoft’s Xbox One announcement had very little to do with actual video games. It was well known that Microsoft wants the Xbox to be more than just a game machine. Even the 360 had become a handy little media box for your television. I’m sure I’m not alone in having my Xbox 360 act more as a Netflix machine than game console, but even with that being the case, I always felt that the Xbox 360 was a game machine that could do other things. The Xbox One is the exact opposite – it’s a super media box that happens to play games.
The Xbox One’s design alone should be all you need. There’s a reason it looks like a 1980s VCR (of which I don’t mind at all, honestly). I’m not sure how many times the word “television” was used in the Xbox One announcement but it’s clear their intentions are less about games and more about everything else. Of course, at this point in time I might be the minority when it comes to wanting a single-purpose device for games. The era of dedicated gaming machines might just be done and over with.
But hey, having a machine that does everything isn’t the worst thing. So the Xbox One can play games and my Netflix, and Skype and control my cable and everything else. What’s wrong with that? Nothing because I can take all my Xbox 360 games with me, right?
Since the Xbox One has an entirely different engine than the Xbox 360 (and that is a good thing), it means I can’t play any of the Xbox 360 games on my new Xbox One. As it stands right now, I won’t be able to play my disc games or my downloaded games. My stack of disc games is relatively few, maybe a dozen, if that, but the number of downloaded games on my 360 is well over 100 at this point and I won’t be able to play any of them on the new console. I don’t want to know how much money I invested into the 360 and thus Microsoft but now all of that is pretty much wasted. So what’s my motivation for buying an Xbox One? Buying all my games over again? No thanks. It’s one thing when the physical media changes, like cartridges or CD-to-DVD, but when most of your games only ever existed as downloads it’s a little harder to swallow the change.
Crapping on the little guy
Another check against the Xbox One on my list is what sounds like the end of indie games as well. I won’t say that the Xbox 360 had the best indie game support or promotion but it was there with the XBLIG and it was relatively easy to make a game and get out for the masses to play. Many of the games on my 360 are indie games. I’ve reviewed a lot of indie games here so you should know that not all indie games are cheap avatar platformers. They were a great alternative to not only retail games but also the XBLA games. There was literally a game for any budget on the Xbox – indie games under $5, arcade games under $20 and retail games for $30 and up. Cheapskates like me could give Microsoft my money just as easily as the “hardcore” gamers. But now the Xbox One looks to stop that by requiring indie developers to partner with Microsoft or a developer on their shortlist of approved partners. It’s now going to be easier to get a game out on iOS or Android that it is a console. If mobile games are cutting into home games then this is not a way to encourage people to make things for your system.
So I can’t play my games on the Xbox One and there won’t be any affordable indie games to download…but it will play Netflix. Sweet. Of course, there’s another thing that has be hesitant to care about Xbox One (or even the PS4). I just don’t have the time anymore.
Yes, a funny thing happens when you become new parent…your game time gets cut quite a bit. I might not be the regular gamer I used to be but that doesn’t mean I don’t want a tiny box in my living room that does one thing well – and that’s playing games. If there’s any device that I’m now eyeballing to put in my living it’s the mythical Steam Box, Ouya or maybe I’ll just jump back onto the PC bandwagon and play my games on Steam. I gave up on the PC because I was tired of upgrading every six months but at this rate that might be cheaper in the long run, plus the available games are near endless, retail, indie or otherwise. I guess we’ll see but you won’t find me in line when the Xbox One goes on sale.