After letting the initial shock wear off from the Xboxone announcement, all of my original feelings and concerns remain the same. Let me preface this by saying none of these restrictions affect me. I don’t rent games, I’m always connected to the internet, and I always pre-order new games. With that being said, I’m deeply troubled by these new restrictions which Microsoft has announced. I won’t break down all of them, just the ones I find the most egregious.
Required 24 hour internet Connection
This to me is probably the worst one. For most people who live in cities with broadband, this isn’t that big of a deal. Our computers are already connected all the time anyway, so what’s the difference? My first issue is I spent almost 3 years deployed in support of Bosnia, and I can tell you that a soldiers best friend is porn and Xbox. Being deployed is just like being in prison. You are usually stuck on a small base where there are no women around, you spend almost every day working long hours, and have very little to do for recreation besides working out and playing Xbox. Shockingly, these bases usually don’t have an internet connection for the soldiers to use especially for something like hooking up your Xbox. You’re lucky to get a real shower and toilet, so putting in an internet connection is pretty low on the leadership’s priority list.
Microsoft has known this from the very beginning, and has still decided to give all of our military personnel the giant digital finger. I can tell you this right now, that this won’t fly in the military. The extreme stress that you endure on a daily basis while deployed, can slowly eat away at you, especially for combat arms guys. Coming back from a stressful patrol or just the stress of missing your spouse or significant other can be almost unbearable at times. Being able to fire up the old console, and rock some madden or wander about in Skyrim can be a major stress reliever.
Military personnel will be regulated to playing on the PC now, which will work, but it’s not the same. Like most gamers, I play games on both a PC and a Console. Certain games I prefer to play on the PC and certain games I like to play on the Console.
One trade policy
When I was younger, this would have been a death knell for me. Unless you come from a wealthy family, or a parent who is a gamer (which didn’t exist when I was a young lad), you needed to scrape and save money for months to purchase that game you’ve long waited for, and even then you could only afford so many day 1 releases. A major portion of your game purchasing calculations was your ability to trade games back to offset new purchases, and then being able to purchase used games for a discount. The irony in this policy, is it’s actually going to hit the casual gamers much more then the hardcore gamers. How many times have you stood in line at Gamestop behind a soccer mom with her kids trading in armloads of games to put towards their new purchase? Can you imagine their reactions once they realize that is no longer available to them?
Also, let’s not kid ourselves here. Microsoft is trying to pass the blame here with their explanation that it’s up to the publishers discretion. The publishers are the ones who have wanted this policy forever, and now they have gotten their wish. This is like allowing Snoop Dogg to create the laws on marijuana usage. If you’re surprised when he legalizes it, then you’ are going to be stunned when the publishers make trading and selling in used games becomes either completely unwieldy or just killed altogether.
Kinect, My Silent Big Brother
As a former Military Intelligence soldier I can tell you straight up, that their are a lot of great men and women who work very hard to keep this country safe and are true patriots. With that being said, we have tons of very SCARY tools out there that help us perform our job. As evident by all of the current scandals we are seeing in our goverment recently with the NSA and IRS, the government can easily justify anything to trample over your privacy rights. I’ve found a good rule of thumb is to always assume the government will abuse any power you give them, because it’s susceptible to the human condition. It only takes a few bad apples to abuse that power, and how would that impact you if that happened. Are you okay if the government was able to watch everything you said and did while playing your console?
All of the points that I have made are really from a tactical perspective. What actually troubles me the most is what this means for the future of gaming. Once they start making these types of changes that are not in the interest of the consumer, it becomes a very slippery slope. These changes are driven purely to increase profits, at the expense of the consumer.
So what’s wrong with that? Well, for those of you who don’t really care about these changes, at some point in the not too distant future, they will make a change that you will hate, and by that time, it’s already too late. Once you accept changes like this, and they see you are willing to deal with it, it begins to become the driving factor behind the gaming industry as a whole, as it’s such an easy way for them to extract profits for free, while producing nothing for it in return. In fact, with changes like this, you are actually paying them to remove services from you, that you are currently receiving.
The bottom line is this is not the tenor you want to the gaming industry to be using, as the end game for this is not good for any gamers in the long run.