Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

At Gamescom, the announcement heard around the world was finally made. Gamers including myself have anxiously awaited the news about the impending release of the PlayStation 4. Since E3, things have been pretty quiet at Sony, but there was no reason for anyone to be concerned. Unlike Microsoft that had to change their policies to keep up, Sony stayed the course by sticking to a vision that had gamers in mind as they brought the PS4 to life. The big question we all had was when, and at the closing moments of Sony’s press conference that answer as given. November 15. In less than three months the next generation will officially begin. While excitement rang, there was an ominous dark cloud looming that had some gamers rather upset. Why?

Indie Games

The main reason that had some hardcore gamers a little perturbed at Sony had to do with the large indie games presence at Gamescom. Hardcore gamers wanted to see more big blockbuster AAA first party games that has Microsoft execs busting out of their expensive Don Mattrick inspired jackets. However, Sony wanted to show gamers their commitment to the indie scene by showcasing games that don’t get the large stage, or over the top trailers to bring excitement to the masses. Microsoft may have all the money (due to the $60/year Xbox Live Gold price) to buy timed exclusive games and have DLC first, but Sony decided to flex their muscles elsewhere and give smaller budget game developers the spotlight which has some dishing out indie hate.

Now I’m not a hater when it comes to this subject, because I like what Sony has brought to the table with their endless supply of indie games. It’s one of the reasons why I wanted a PS4 over the Xbox One. Games including Helldivers, Hotline Miami 2, Ray’s The Dead, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Mercenary Kings, Outlast, Secret Ponchos, and countless others have me more excited than the usual big budget sequel driven franchises including Call of Duty, Battlefield, Dead Rising, Assassin’s Creed, and even Halo. Indie games bring some new visions and ideas to the table that help shape the way we will play games in the near future. Basically, indie developers are willing to take big risks and sacrifices to help broaden the horizons of the gaming world.

Do you want to know what really separates the indies from the big dogs? Allow me share something with you.

Let’s take a look at the big picture when it comes to video games. Big name publishers and developers are basically playing it safe by creating sequel after sequel of popular franchises knowing that they will get your money. Most of these games show up yearly including sports games, Call of Duty, and Assassin’s Creed. These yearly games have either peaked, or they’re past their prime, because these games either make minimal tweaks to slightly enhance the gameplay, or are not willing to experiment with anything new at all. In essence, your just playing the same game with a minor graphical bump to make it look shiny and special. Still excited about Madden 25, Battlefield 4, or Call of Duty: Ghosts?

Indie developers, on the other hand, are willing to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating new and exciting games. These developers will take a concept that you and I are familiar with, and throw a monkey wrench within the programming thereby creating a new way to experience the game. Most will call this weird while others will call this genius.

Everyday indie developers are coming up with new ways to enjoy the genres we love. So why should we hate on them when a company like Sony is willing to invest big on these new and innovating ideas that they create? Sony is bringing these indie developers to the forefront, and not burying them in the back of a marketplace so that we would have to sort through a huge clutter of shit to find the diamonds in the rough. As gamers we should be happy to see that a company is willing to take risks, and not play it safe by buying up timed exclusives just for the sake of sales. Besides, these games that Microsoft has bought as so-called “exclusives” will soon be available on the Sony platform for us to enjoy. Add on all the indie goodness that came before it, and what you have is a win for gamers.

Once again it looks like Microsoft has announced another policy reversal. This time it’s in regards to the Kinect sensor with the Xbox One. Stemming from an Ask Microsoft Anything article from IGN, Xbox Corporate Vice President Marc Whitten has stated:

“Xbox One owners will be able to use all of the console’s core functions regardless of whether the new Kinect sensor is connected. Naturally, many of the tentpole features of the new Kinect, such as player identification, voice commands, etc., will be disabled as a result, but players will still be able to play games and access entertainment content.”

So what does this all mean? Basically, it means that the Kinect sensor is no longer required in order for the Xbox One to function. No more worrying about Microsoft “spying” on you. No more Kinect…period! While this latest reversal has Xbox fans once again rejoicing, I begin to wonder whether this change is a so called “victory” for gamers? Honestly, I don’t think so. The conclusion that I draw from all this is that Microsoft has raped the identity of the Xbox One leaving gamers confused about Microsoft’s next-gen vision.

Yes, Xbox One actually had a vision, however gamers including myself saw it as a console filled with restrictive policies that seemed to benefit the publishers more than the consumer. Personally, I was pissed off about the requirement of Kinect, DRM, always online, and no backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games. All this gravitated me towards the PlayStation 4, and by E3 my decision was made after the Sony press conference as Jack Tretton stated that the PS4 was everything opposite of what the Xbox One was as well as $100 cheaper. I was sold. The PS4 was for me.

What has happened since E3 has had Microsoft backpedaling, and the results that followed had me wondering just what the heck was going on in Redmond. For a while I believed that Microsoft had it’s head on it’s shoulders, and was taking the correct steps in bringing a community of gamers together. Unfortunately, things have changed dramatically, because I now believe that Microsoft is absolutely clueless about what they’re doing. The last couple of months have been filled with reversals that include the Draconian DRM, self publishing with indie developers, always online, and now the Kinect. To put things in a nutshell, Microsoft has abandoned just about everything the Xbox One was supposed to be in terms of the future of gaming and entertainment just so they can compete with the PlayStation 4. Basically, the Xbox One is nothing more than a beefed up Xbox 360. Now why would you want something that you pretty much already have?

And what about the Kinect?

Now that the Kinect is no longer mandatory, developers might decide to no longer include the use of the peripheral when making their games. Why enhance the gameplay with a device that gamers were against using in the first place? This once again makes the Kinect nothing more than another useless gimmick. As of this moment, Microsoft has no plans to remove the Kinect sensor from the Xbox One which means first adopters will still have to pay the $100 extra for something that they might never use. For some this is a waste of money. Microsoft, on the other hand, can only hope that gamers will actually use it.

From excitement of the announcement to damage control that followed, it’s such a shame to see how far Microsoft has fallen in just the past few months. They’ve completely lost their way, and I just don’t understand why some people are such Microsoft apologists after all these reversals. The Xbox One now has a major identity crisis, and I no longer know what this console is or what exactly makes it so special. Maybe what Microsoft should’ve done was stick to their guns, and slowly ease people in to what could be the future of gaming and entertainment. Unfortunately, all Microsoft has done is continue to dig themselves further down the hole while still not finding a way to get themselves out of it.

* Source of linked IGN article written by Scott Lowe

Ok, so how many of you were rejoicing when Microsoft changed their restrictive policies regarding the Xbox One? You all felt like you won a huge battle, because you believed that Microsoft was actually listening to you. In reality, what it really boiled down to was the fact that Microsoft shareholders were not happy, and the Xbox One was getting destroyed in pre orders by the PlayStation 4 by nearly an 8 to 1 margin worldwide. Sure gamers like you and I were pissed, but what we did was we voted with our wallets and Microsoft got the message. In return they changed their policies. Now just when some of you thought it was ok to drink the Microsoft Kool-Aid again some online petitions have shown up asking to reverse the changes.

Here’s the link to one of the petitions:
http://www.change.org/petitions/microsoft-give-us-back-the-xbox-one-we-were-promised-at-e3-2

So let me get this straight. What this person is asking for is the return of DRM. The return of no used games. The return of the 24 hour check in (1 hour check in at a friends house). The return of family sharing (actually Microsoft should’ve never removed this, because that was a good idea). Basically every restriction that was originally in place in order to have what this person called “Steam for Xbox.” Are you out of your mind! Well quite a few people don’t think so, because they’ve signed on, and it looks like this petition is gaining steam through the power of the internet.

Now my first impression when I saw this was that this has to be the work of those internet “trolls” just looking for some attention. However, this does not seem to be the case since there are others who agree with this narrow-minded view. Of course there are plenty of other signees who come off as your typical fanboys and just wanted to sign it so that Microsoft can fail if a reversal would happen. Nothing beats the post from Dtrex Gaming saying “It’s so important so that the Xbox One is shittier again.”

The big question in all of this would be whether Microsoft would even consider reverting to their original vision of the Xbox One as the “future of entertainment” instead of what is now a beefed up Xbox 360. Honestly, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll go back to their original plan, because it will make them look a lot weaker as a company then they already look right now due to the change. Constant flip-flopping is a bad idea for Microsoft, because it will make those people who did pre order the Xbox One think twice. Microsoft has spent too much time and money on the original idea for Xbox One only to change it all of a sudden with a day one downloadable patch which is the proverbial “off switch” to it’s restrictive policies. However, with every “off switch” there is also an “on switch” where this petition could eventually serve it’s purpose down the line. Keep in mind that “Microsoft has the right to change their policies at any given time without notice.”

In closing, I could care less about this petition. Microsoft can do whatever they want with the Xbox One. I’m not buying it. I already voted with my wallet weeks ago when I pre ordered the PS4. However, if I was to start an online petition to Microsoft I would just ask for the return of family sharing, because that was the only feature on the Xbox One that actually made sense.

TV, TV, TV, Sports, Sports, Sports, Call of Duty.

What a letdown. May 21, 2013 was supposed to be the day when Microsoft would reveal a new generation of Xbox. Instead what I saw was a one hour tech demo starring my television. “Introducing Xbox One.” Xbox One! What a shitty name, but I did understand the eventual message of an all in one console. I thought I was going to see the next generation of gaming. Instead all I got was another high def cable box along with a new Kinect for me to issue commands to. This was what I was so excited about? What a bunch of horse shit! Where were the games?

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For an event that was being watched by gamers, Microsoft really showed that they were catering to a different crowd. E3 was less than a month away, and I figured that they would showcase the games there. That settled me down for a bit, but then the shit storm came. Draconian DRM policies, no used games, a once every 24 hour check in, no backwards compatibility, the always on Kinect listening and watching you. All of a sudden my rage kicked in. What was Microsoft thinking? For the next three weeks myself, along with the rest of the gaming community, were pissed off at Microsoft and began looking towards Sony for salvation.

When E3 arrived I still wanted to see what Microsoft brought to the table in terms of games. I had my olive branch in hand ready to forgive Microsoft for their stupidity. Hopefully they’ll answer all my burning questions after a nightmare PR statement revealed a week before E3. What they gave me was a 21 gun salute of game after game after game. I was overwhelmed! Titanfall, Dead Rising 3, Halo, Ryse, Crimson Dragon, and more. Microsoft’s show was impressive, but they still didn’t answer the questions that the gaming community wanted answered. Eventually Don Mattrick did answer the question about an always online console. “If you don’t have internet we have a console for you. It’s called the Xbox 360.” Not a good choice of words Don. Oh, and then there was the $499 price tag. This made me anticipate Sony’s press conference just a little bit more.

Once Sony took the stage I knew that I was in for a treat. Sure they talked a bit about entertainment, but this was really a night for the games. Oh, and they also showed the console which looked really sleek. Then again anything would’ve looked better than that Betamax Xbox One. The games were impressive, but what really got me was when Jack Tretton answered every gamer’s questions. No DRM, used games are welcome, I can share my games with anyone, and no 24 hour check in. The crowd erupted in applause, and I had a smile from ear to ear. Then came the bombshell of a $399 price tag. That made me even happier than ever. It also made my decision much easier, because that next morning I pre ordered a PlayStation 4.

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Considering the fact that I’ve been with the Xbox brand for the last decade, the tough decision to return to Sony had me branded as a traitor by some fanboys out there questioning my “loyalty.” Let me state for the record that I have no loyalty to anyone. Before I was playing games on Xbox I had the original PlayStation and the PS2. What I think about is what’s better for me, and Sony impressed me more with the PS4. Sony showed in both their February 20 reveal along with their E3 press conference that they realized they fucked up with the PS3. They also knew that what was important to them was the gamer, so they made a console tailored for gamers. In a way the PS4 is basically the PS2 all over again except for more power and a few new options. It’s simple, it’s cheaper, and I like it.

Now Microsoft may have reversed their policies last week, but this desperate 180 measure is not going to sway me back. The damage was already done. The bridge has been burnt. You just can’t all of a sudden change your policies and expect the masses to run back like the bandwagon Miami Heat fans did during Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Microsoft said that they were listening to their customers. The reality was that they realized they were getting gang raped by Sony in the pre-sale battle. So they abandoned their vision of the Xbox One just to cater to the masses and be just like the PS4 except more expensive and still having that spybot Kinect. Honestly, I think that anyone who all of a sudden crawls back to Microsoft is an idiot. Keep in mind that “Microsoft has the right to change their policies at any time without notice” meaning they could revert to all their original policies again in a few years. Well I don’t need to worry about all that crap, because I’m sticking with Sony.

Now that my decision is made, and my PlayStation 4 preordered for a day one pickup this November, I can finally focus on my next venture. The games. Now what titles should I buy first?

Ok, so I’ve seen the the reveals. Each company has opened their argument  about why I should buy their console this fall. Considering the fact that I’ve been loyal to Microsoft for the last decade this should be an easy choice right? Well…not exactly. There’s also that part where before I was playing games on Xbox and the 360 I was playing games on PlayStation and PlayStation 2. Now I’m in a dilemma. Current loyalty vs what I enjoyed in the past. Halo vs Killzone. Forza Motorsport vs Gran Turismo. Owning both consoles will become a monster headache for me. I must choose one, but which one. I’m so confused.

Frankly I feel that a lot of you are in the same boat as me. Mulling over specs, controllers, games, apps, and other options while constantly trying to avoid all the ridiculously stupid fanboys and trolls that hang around the message boards of every website. You all know the trolls. The ones who always have an opinion, but mostly based in fanboyism as well as insulting everyone’s mother at the same time. PS4 fanboys call Xbox the “Darkside” and tell people to come back to the light. Xbox One fanboys…well you don’t hear that much other than loyalty. And what about Wii U? Wait! Does anyone actually own one? Honestly, I think that the Wii U has been rejected by Dikembe Mutombo while saying “Not in my house!” This is a two console battle, and only one juggernaut will be standing horizontally at the end. Let the console war commence!

So let’s begin. Here are my opinions on each company’s next-gen reveal.

Ok, so Microsoft revealed the console. Nice. Sadly, the first part of this reveal showed me that if I want to watch The Price is Right then the Xbox One is definitely the way to go. Oh and it also plays live sports including the NFL! Seriously, I’d rather go to a bar and have a few beers with my friends while watching sports instead of skyping them and letting them know that I’m beating them on a fantasy league. A Halo television show! If it’s anything like Forward Unto Dawn then count me in. Then after a half an hour of bullshit Microsoft finally addressed the target demographic (which includes me) that were actually watching the reveal, however most gamers were probably either bored or tuned out completely by the time they showed a game. Too bad they were all trailers. EA Sports…don’t care. Forza Motorsport 5…awesome! What is Quantum Break? Finally, there was Call of Duty where I’ll get to form a personal relationship with a virtual pet that’s probably going to get shot to shit. No thanks. I have a real dog.

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Name is consistent, but no console. Well at least they showed the controller which looks pretty cool. They talked about the PS4 specs, but still no console. Their showing games! Killzone: Shadow Fall looks sick! Infamous: Second Son sure looks interesting. Driveclub! Now this title is right up my alley and should be a lot of fun. Watch Dogs has been on my radar since it’s reveal last year at E3 and it was a must buy back then. Still is now. Knack is a pass for me since it’s not my type of game. Did Sony find a way to make the PlayStation Vita relevant? Blue balls and old man faces! Sadly, the motion control stuff was boring. More trailers. Bungie talked about Destiny. Blizzard announced Diablo 3. Why? After two hours of gaming bliss I was still waiting to see the console, but the PS4 was a no show. I guess I’ll have to wait until E3. At least the games were cool.

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So, with E3 now a week away the anticipation is killing me inside. Both companies showed their cards yet left me wanting more. Unfortunately Microsoft is still in damage control mode dealing with always online, used game fees, and the so called Kinect spy which I think really creeps me out. Sony, on the other hand, hasn’t said a word. Smart on them. After the reveals I was leaning towards Sony due to the fact that they seemed to have learned from their mistakes of the PS3 as well as catering their console towards me. Since then I’ve let my anger towards Microsoft subside and moved back to the middle of undecided. Both Microsoft and Sony will have their big E3 press conferences on June 10 and I’ll be watching both very carefully. I expect to see more games, features, a price point, and a release date. Then on June 11 my “decision” will be made. No big ESPN special. Just a decision.

So will it be the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or retire from gaming? I don’t know, but at least one thing is clear. With no backwards compatibility I’ll still have my Xbox 360. It does exactly what I want it to do. Play games and watch Netflix. That’s all I need. Why can’t these companies understand that?

Until next time. Xbox, Go Home.

With all the E3 hype behind us now, and my winners and losers picks done, I wanted to concentrate on the other games that caught my attention. Now I can’t call any of these games definite buys just yet, but they’re clearly on my radar which could be both a good or maybe even a bad sign. Good news is that I have plenty of time to keep an eye on these titles before making a commitment. Looks like another busy end of the year. My wallet is ready. Hopefully these games will be as well.


Dishonored: At first when I saw the trailer for this game before E3 it didn’t impress me that much. Then as the show went on, and I witnessed some gameplay videos, my mind had a quick change. Dishonored looks really good featuring stealth, plenty of abilities, and tons of action as you make kills to clear your name. By the way, the possession skill is awesome.

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Forza Horizon: Cars and partying in the desert. It’s Race Wars! Ok, this isn’t The Fast and the Furious, but Forza Horizon does remind me of a cross between Need For Speed and Test Drive Unlimited. Unlike the Forza Motorsport series, Horizon is more of an arcade style of control with more speed on the open road instead of on the track. I’m interested in this game, but I still need some further convincing.

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Injustice: Gods Among Us: DC superheroes back in another fighting game from the team behind Mortal Kombat. All of a sudden I had memories of Mortal Kombat vs. DC and I hated that game. Injustice looks great with plenty of over the top fighting action including flying thought buildings and even outer space. Everything was going great until thoughts of Mortal Kombat vs. DC kept creeping into my head. Plenty of time between now and 2013 to see how this plays out.

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Need For Speed: Most Wanted: It’s been awhile since I purchased a Need For Speed game, but Most Wanted could change that. Wait a minute, wasn’t there a Most Wanted game in 2005? Man, where’s the originality in the name Criterion? Here’s another random thought. For a Need For Speed game Criterion’s latest sure looks like something from the Burnout series. Maybe this should be called Burnout: Most Wanted. Either way I want to see more before returning to the series.

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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed: The first game was a lot of fun for a mascot racer. Now there’s a sequel. At first I felt that this new entry from Sega was to “gimmicky” with the transforming vehicles for land, sea, and air. As of late my interest has changed to the positive and it has nothing to do with Danica Patrick being in the game. The unique Sega themes for each track look fantastic especially the Golden Axe stage. Can’t wait until the holidays for this one.

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South Park: The Stick of Truth: Trey Parker and Matt Stone showed off the game at the Microsoft Press Conference as well as shared a few laughs with the crowd. I had my suspicions well before E3, but after seeing the game in action my interest grew. This South Park RPG feels just like an episode of the popular show as I get to play as my own unique character and interact with the gang. I can even call Cartman a “Fatass” using my Kinect and he’ll respond to you. Sounds like fun.