Ok. I'm the first to
admit it; I've been beyond lazy and bad with posting. I mean nearly
half a year has gone by and I've been caught up in so many other
things, and so many games, that I cannot even begin to think of
where I should start. So, with that in mind, I'll start with the
obvious problem in my mind. I'm a bitchy person, so I will bitch.
The XBox One (X1)
has been announced since I was last around these parts. Yes, the PS4
has also been announced, but the X1 has the type of things I like to
bitch about. In this case, it's the not-quite-always-online
requirement. For those who don't know, the X1 will require a
check-in, online, once every 24 hours unless you want your game
console to be a "everything but games" console. So, once per 24
hours you have your game licenses checked out by the Live servers,
or else they will not function.
I live with a
pretty good internet connection, despite being Comcast. However, I'm
more of the mind that just because something works for me, it
doesn't mean it's good. This is obviously not in the same league,
but about a century back, I would be able to have voted in the US.
I'm a white male in my 30's and own my own home and pull in a nice
enough salary to be considered middle-class. However, should I not
be upset that the family across the street from me (Hispanic
Americans) would be barred from the voter rolls? What about my wife,
who is in the same situation as me, but wasn't born with a
penis...which was apparently used to mark your ballots...?
Yes, that's a big
exaggeration of the matter at hands; video games. However, one thing
that remains in the US right now is that this country has one of the
lamest excuses for a broadband infrastructure of any supposedly
civilized country in the world. About half (I'd find the real
numbers and stats, but I'm a bit lazy today) of the supposed
"broadband" residential connections in the US are not up to par for
online gaming. I mean if you are rocking a DSL line, you may be shit
out of luck. Yes, some DSL is a bit better, but this is an outlier
in the more affluent/dense areas of the residential portion (by
this, I mean not counting the large swaths of resort areas and areas
that do not truly support residences) of the US. So, if you're
rocking the best DSL I can get at my home (which is just down the
road from a major international airport, one of the largest ports of
trade on the Western US, and 15 minutes from Seattle), you would be
rocking out a 2.5mbps connection on the down, and a pathetic
0.75mbps on the up. Yes, I have Comcast for internet, but not all
areas are serviced by the cable companies.
Yes, there are the
obvious candidates for this poor service. I mean there's people
living in the boonies of the Mid-West, Appalachian folks, blah,
blah. Most of these are considered the "poor" people. Poor, as in,
"if you can't afford cable internet, then you can't afford a X1! Get
some money!" However, there are also many more affluent areas that
live near civilization that fit the bill of no cable availability
and low speed internet. If you want to find these places, look for
the larger cities and find any mountains within 15-30 miles (a
reasonable commute for work). For example, in Washington there is
North Bend. North Bend would be a commutable range from Issaquah (a
small but strong tech sector in Washington State). In Oregon, the
former logging city of Cottage Grove is about 15 minutes from Eugene
(home of the University of Oregon and several major biotechs).
Cottage Grove holds some affluent people (as well as some poor as
dirt people, and everyone in between) who live out there for the
mountains, the forests, the clean air, and the large parcels of
land. I know this one quite well. Some people I know down in Cottage
Grove would be left out of the X1 for one of two reasons; either you
can only get DSL service with your satellite TV, or you luck out
with cable but face service outages for a couple weeks each winter
when the storms roll in.
about this issue some, I even looked at the worst places in the
internet; gaming forums. Yes, I was expecting a lot of stupidity and
ignorance (and the forums delivered in spades!), but I knew a few
small voices of experience would ring out. For every 99 posts of
"works for me bro!", there would be one that was insightful. I read
of people in some of the hotter areas of the Southwest. These
included major cities with enough income to afford a game console
and a broadband connection. I read of someone in Santa Clara, CA who
would lose internet for about a weeks each summer when the heat was
at the most intense due to the cable company equipment shorting out
in the heat. I read of someone trapped in a home, with power, for a
few weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit New York...but without internet
and an ability to leave his house. Hell, I have seen similar in my
comfy Seattle area when we hit an all-time record high temperature a
couple years ago and cable went to shit, despite the power being
perfectly fine. Hell, if power is knocked out due to wind storms,
I've usually seen my power come back quicker than Comcast comes back
(power companies are typically more ready to handle major storm
damage than a cable company).
Now my personal
take on this is that once each 24 hours just seems like a double
edge of badness. One edge says that the US is just not ready for
this type of DRM yet. As we hear every year or two from D.C., we
need to improve our country in both transportation and broadband
infrastructure...and that is one bit where I don't usually just see
D.C. as being full of hot air. The other edge is that internet can
go out and will go out. Usually it will not be for 24 hours...but it
just feels to me (entirely my opinion on this) that once every 72
hours (3 days) would be a smoother time frame and would be more in
line with potential problems. Hell, any time I've moved residences,
Comcast would not be back up and running in my new home for about
2-3 days...three boring days that usually just had me playing video
games when I needed a break from unpacking.
Now, I should also
disclose a bias for me; I do own a small amount of Microsoft stock.
I do, and I admit it. Well, this Microsoft stock also helps me to
see another little problem. If the market gets limited any due to
this DRM issue (which will probably become more apparent, if it
really is going to be a problem...this is all speculation from
either side at this point), gamers will be more apt to go with the
PS4. Let's face it, the PS4 and X1 look nearly identical in terms of
the hardware (actually, slight edge goes to the PS4 for better
memory), so games and usability are key in one side doing better
than the other. Well, if the DRM does frighten away consumers, or
cause people to move on from the X1 due to any issues, then
exclusives will be more likely to slide away from the X1 (except for
exclusives that Microsoft brings about with monetary incentives).
This can cause a domino effect (ask Nintendo). I'd rather have three
consoles all healthy and competitive, since it breeds innovation.
Well, right now we only have 2 (ask Nintendo). If this causes a
problem and Sony doesn't go the same route, then innovation from
competition may be in trouble, and this leads to no one
winning...except PC gamers.
Anyway, I am
naturally a skeptic and cynical. It's my way in life. I just see too
many potential problems right now. It could all pan out, but I see a
lot of things that I will need Microsoft to prove to me. So,
publishers will determine if I can sell a game; How many will
actually support this and not see this as a loss of income? I can
trade a game license between 10 family members; there was no mention
of publishers having a choice in this, so will they have a choice?
If so, I see them saying "no" nearly every time, since it's like
losing 9/10th of your potential income. If they don't have a choice,
I see many publishers walking away when they lose 9/10th of their
potential sales due to sharing between "family" members (my friends
are like brothers and sisters to me, heh, heh).
Yes, Microsoft may
be bringing about a huge change for the better, if things work out
how they predict. However, they might also be setting up a bit of a
train-wreck or a shift towards something ugly. I think Sony stock
prices jumping up a couple percent immediately following the X1
unveiling was not a good sign. Personally, good or bad in my eyes, I
think the X1 will be a console I'd wait a minimum of one year before
buying. There are new forces at work, and many of these are entirely
untested and need a real world experience to see if they are not a
problem I'm willing to not deal with. Plus, Microsoft said trading
and selling of games would not be ready day one, so I really need to
see this in action first.
Also, I hope
Microsoft doesn't do anything to anger any hackers or hacker groups.
I mean Sony angered some hackers, and how long was PSN down for?
Plus, how important was PSN? Now imagine if Microsoft angers the
hacking community and their required Live infrastructure was
obviously the perfect target. Plus, nothing bad ever happens with
networks for DRM. U-Play and Origins have never gone down from
excessive use. Most importantly, Live never went down from excessive
use. Also, none of these companies ever offered compensation due to
these failure. Oh...wait...I was just told all of those have gone
down from excessive use in the past, and compensation to gamers has
been involved, typically in free games. Well, I'm sure it will
definitely never happen again. At least not until the next time.