In case you missed all the fireworks yesterday, the gaming world shifted again with Microsoft reversing their DRM and online policies. The story developed throughout the day after Patrick Klepek from Giantbomb ran a story about the changes coming to the Xbox One which later Microsoft confirmed.
The rundown is this:
- There is no longer an online requirement.
- You will only have to be connected during the initial setup of the system.
- No more 24 hour “check-ins”.
- Downloaded games will still work whether you are online or not.
- You XB1 disc based games will work in the same manner as your Xbox 360 ones did
- You will be able to trade and loan your discs as you see fit.
- All region locks are gone.
In my opinion this is a huge flip-flop on the part of Microsoft, I expected this somewhere down the line, but not this soon. Along with the public outcry, there had to be some unfavorable preorder numbers or the Jimmy Fallon effect that made this come about so quickly. Either way it’s a win for gamers of all stripes because now we get to focus on the important part, the games.
The ball again is in Sony’s court and I have to wonder if this muffles some of the feel good rhetoric promoted at E3. What if anything will they do to possibly sweeten the pot now that the feature set playing field is even more level.
With all that being said there are still many questions gamers should be asking.
Will gamers now feel “safe” to buy their XB1? There will surely be a PR bump from this mea culpa, but will those new adopters forget the other bits and pieces that they previously weren’t happy about like the always connected Kinect? A friend of mine brought up a great and possibly troubling point in reference to MS’s all seeing eye. He pondered “since the XB1 needs the Kinect to function what happens if it craps out? Does that make your XB1 pretty much useless? How will MS deal with warranties on the peripheral, will they be tied together in some way?”
Also, since they are dropping the proposed plans of reselling your digital titles, how will that impact their digital marketplace? What if anything does that do to the pricing scheme in that realm?
Consumer still have some months before these systems launch, being diligent and asking the companies directly about your concerns will be key in the seemingly ever moving landscape we find ourselves in as next-gen gamers. My suggestion to you is to think with your head, not your heart, and especially with your wallet.
E3 2013 will do gown as one of the most interesting case studies in corporate maneuvering in the history of the videogame business. The day started with mountains of fan excitement. People had gathered their information and drizzled their speculation sprinkles on top, waiting for Microsoft and Sony to show their wares. For the less initiated, E3 is the Super Bowl for gamers; or better yet our yearly World’s Fair. The place in which we get to hopefully have the “World of Tommorrow” moments that will show us what our favorite hobby will look and feel like in the years to come.
Day one of E3 provided many of those moments, both forgettable and not, leaving everyone in the gaming world abuzz with excitement and some wanting a way-back machine to recompose and rethink.
Microsoft, after coming off a three week public relations beatdown by gamers and press, had a lot to prove. Their restrictive DRM, online check-ins, and inability to share or purchase used games brought out all daggers and pitchforks from the community. The promise of games was supposed to satiate most and squelch some of the fires set at the last press conference. However, they lost so much good will with their backward thinking that I don’t know if anything but a complete reversal of policy would have made people forgive their past misstep. To their credit, Microsoft showed some damn awesome games. Metal Gear 5: The Phantom Pain and Quantum Break showed where the system wants to go with their future: big, robust titles that will show the power of the Xbox One.
Microsoft took some interesting risks as well with the games like Project Spark and Below. Both in my opinion reached out to that Indie-gamer base that the Xbox was sorely lacking in the current gen.
One of the bigger surprises of the night for them was the huge deal they inked with Twitch TV. Millions of gamers watch and interact with streamers on a daily basis. Being able to stream directly from your XO will be an amazing feature that many would-be stars will take advantage of. It will also be interesting to see if those who already have big followings on Twitch will be able to cash in somehow.
All that being said, the star of the show for Microsoft was TitanFall from Respawn. An immersive futuristic Call of Duty-esque game with the mech warfare included. Nimble “pilots” wall run and jetpack their ways around the battlefield while racking up XP points. The game looked fast, fluid, and extraordinarily fun. With the gameplay they showed, they gave folks a reason to buy their box–and then most of the good will was sucked out of the room when they dropped their $499 price tag.
Hesitant cheers filled the room when the number was spoken, and even slight groans could be heard in the background. I think even with all the bad news surrounding the XO, people could still see what the future held and were starting to rethink their position, but that price seemed to remove most of the benefits they showed during the conference. Or at least made die-hard Xbox fans willing to wait to see what Sony had to offer later that night.
Overall, Microsoft had a really good conference. The lack of apology for not listening to the fans in any way would have gone a long way toward rebuilding faith that the company wanted gamers to be happy. The lack of post-conference press questioning and no follow up left a bad taste in the mouths of many and set the stage for Sony to steal the night.
Sony had been waiting in the wings for awhile, and going last during the conference day would absolutely play into their favor. Microsoft had shown their hands and Sony could maneuver and adapt to the messaging provided by their rival. They started the ball rolling albeit slowly by setting the stage with PS3 and Vita software. Although many gamers are chomping at the bit to get to next-gen. Sony showed that there are some quality games coming down the pipe until the end of the year. Critically-acclaimed games like “The Last of Us” still bring about oohs and ahhs but people really wanted the new stuff.
A couple of minutes later the PS4 was revealed: a two-toned slanted box. An Xbox One with a methadone-addict lean. As you can see I’m not a fan of the design and think they went safe but I guess in the end the box’s looks don’t matter. What you can play on that box does and they showed some great upcoming titles like “The Order”, “infamous: Second Son” and many Indie titles that I’ll go into more detail in my “On My Radar” posts coming this week.
PS4’s biggest showing was Bungie’s game Destiny, the game looks gorgeous with expansive worlds. Awesome weapons and gameplay situations called “Public Events” that will add to experience by gathering large groups of players to take on community-timed challenges or enemies. The way it was implemented looked amazing and made me want that game now. Knowing Bungie’s background and ten year commitment, I think gamers on all platforms are in for a surprise.
Lots of great content was shown but the bombshells that everyone was waiting for were about to be dropped. Sony had been eerily quiet on the used game front especially after Microsoft went whole hog on the game lock-down stance. Rumors abounded that Sony would adopt the same policy of letting the publishers determine how used games would be dealt with and online connectivity “check-ins”. And with one fell swoop, Jack Trenton changed the landscape of the next gen universe by confirming that the PS4 wouldn’t adopt ANY of those previously discussed programs or policies. For good measure, Sony threw in a snarky instructional video showing how to share your games on the new system.
That wasn’t the final straw: a price tag of $399 garnered cheers and howls from the crowd and left many people slack-jawed that Sony undercut Microsoft by a full hundred dollars with the kind of hardware they were pushing. Social media streams blew up, people claimed new alliances with the PS4 and others deemed the XO DOA right out of the gate.
It was an interesting spectacle on many fronts. You don’t really see things like this from entertainment companies, especially during conferences held that closely together. It was refreshing, though, to see one company listen to its most ardent fans and–at least for that night–seem to understand what those consumers really wanted.
Huge kudos go out to the Sony team for being adaptive and not doubling down on stupid.
Some things you might have missed
- Your Xbox live subscription will carry over onto the XO
- An XO “Day One” sku will have a “Day One Achievement Code” and special controller
- No more MS Points, you can use real currency from your region
- XO will be released in November and you can preorder on Amazon now
- Kinect Sports Rivals will be a launch title
- Crimson Dragon will have Synchronous and Asynchronous gameplay.
- PS+ will carry over to your PS4 and Drive Club will be free to members
- You will need a PS+ subscription to play multiplayer games
- The system will come with a 500GB HD and you can swap it out for a bigger one
- A new headset will be available at or close to launch
Whew!! As you can see, the amount of information coming out is fast and furious, but I am on the case trying to bring you the most up-to-date information. Be sure to check out the “On My Radar” features this week, when we go more in-depth with some of the games from the show. Lots of trailers and thoughts coming so stick with us and let me know what questions you have. Tag your questions with #TSPe3!
Sony came to the stage last night with a man questions to answer. Could they keep the momentum they had from their initial conference almost six months ago? What would their next-gen console look like? Would they have games that would wow not only their fanbase but those gamers who were on the fence? They finished the night in firm command of the conversation and possibly a hold on holiday sales for this upcoming year. The PS4 had a bunch of games that perked interest and here are the five I’m most interested in getting my hands on.
The Order 1886
- Steampunk monster hunters, with a knights twist.
- Initial story seems really interesting.
- Cool looking weapons, let’s hope with lots of variety.
- Hoping actual gameplay keeps some of this trailer’s style.
- Multiple protagonists maybe?
- Huge deal that Sony is continuing to foster the relationship with Indie Devs.
- Bringing their games to the Sony platform will just bring more to the fold.
- Don’t Starve, Secret Ponchos and Mercenary Kings all looked great.
- Indie Devs can self-publish, again huge incentive.
- Games look easily portable to Vita as well, many getting a PS+ push from the start.
- The game looked better than the initial showing.
- The new open, bright environments will do that game and the Guerrilla engine justice.
- New Combat options including the “Owl” personal combat drone should be very cool.
- Mutiplayer should be amazing as well.
Infamous: Second Son
- Graphics looked amazing, crazy particle effects.
- Really emotive characters.
- Protagonist was a snarky bad-ass (New DMC Dante-esque)
- Felt like a playable version of the Chronicle movie.
Quantic Dream Demo
- EXTREMLEY impressive detail.
- Kind of graphics we really want from next-gen.
- This kind of technology can help to create the emotionally deep gameplay we have been dying for.
Let us know what we missed and what you are excited for. Are you buying a Ps4 day one, if so tell us why in the comments below.
Xbox enthusiasts were treated to some gorgeous sights and sounds on Monday night. Since the reveal of the Xbox One (XO) three weeks ago the clamoring for games have been loud and boisterous. Microsoft showed gamers a bunch of titles that are coming up for their next-gen system and here are the ones I found most compelling.
- A gorgeous, vibrant art style.
- Multiple user-created weapons or at least user inspired designs might be implemented.
- Seems to take place huge spaces with cool ways to traverse.
- Looks like gleeful destruction, tone of the game looks very light.
- Alan Wake style episodic format connected to a TV/online show.
- Real next –gen graphic leap.
- Looks like it will be really interesting with time manipulation story-telling.
- Can’t wait to see what gameplay will look like, if action oriented or more story based.
- Amazing sandbox for kids.
- Kinect and Smartglass capable.
- Looks like a great gateway for children to learn game creation.
- Wants to go head to head with Sony’s LittleBigPlanet
- I hope it’s not Xbox Exclusive although a great get on the indie front.
- Love the art and music from the Sword and Sworcery folks.
- Great logo and graphic design by Cory Schmitz (Sound Shapers)
- Already have a pedigree of putting out amazing games with immerse quirky stories
- MS killer app.
- Looked amazing, quick, responsive, everything you expect from a COD game (Respawn).
- Mechs looked really dope and super fun to control.
- Traversal looked really good and clean.
- Hopefully Mech/Human combat will be balanced.
This should be a pretty strong launch lineup when the Xbox One comes out later this year. I can’t wait to see what other treats they have up their sleeve.
What games perked your interest, are you buying a Xbox One at launch? Let us know what games you’d like to see on this list in the comments below!!