Yesterday evening, Microsoft decided it was high time to outline a few of their official policies regarding the Xbox One, used games, privacy, the Kinect and their internet requirements. They created three separate documents that each summarized how certain points of their new system would work.
We covered most of those this morning. You can read Eric Frederiksen’s “Xbox One and Used, Borrowed and Sold Games – The Official Word” and “Microsoft Explains Privacy Controls for Xbox One’s Kinect” and Brandon Russell’s “Gamers Beware: Xbox One Will Check For Internet Every 24 Hours” for better understanding.
I read Microsoft’s announcements last night. I read them again this morning. I read the aforementioned posts. I took to Twitter and Facebook to interact with friends and peers. I cruised a few big forums to gather further interpretation. I had a cup of coffee. I had breakfast.
In other words, I’ve had time to ingest all of this news. If Microsoft doesn’t change a lot of the policies and decisions they’ve made surrounding the Xbox One, I’m out.
Here’s what bothers me about the Xbox One.
Alright, so, why am I leaving? It boils down to this: I’m a consumer, in addition to being a games writer, and I care about the decisions companies make. The decisions that Microsoft has made apparent for the Xbox One, whether they affect me directly or not, are bogus.
I don’t always want to have my Xbox One connected to the internet, yet Microsoft requires me to check in online once every 24 hours. If I don’t check in, I can’t play any games. If I bring a game to a friend’s house during, say, a snowstorm and we lose internet, we can only play that game offline for one hour. Yes, I know that’s an absurd example, but it’s something that can and will happen to at least one consumer.
Here’s a more feasible scenario, and one I encounter every calendar year. For New Year’s, I rent a cabin with a bunch of friends in the mountains. It’s remote, and it’s dirt cheap. I always bring a console and a bunch of sports and party style games. We stay there for around five days. With the Xbox One, the gaming would stop before the second day even begins.
I care about backwards compatibility, but the Xbox One doesn’t have it. Look, I know that not all of you agree with me, but my point still stands. I want to play old games. I want my content library to transfer between my aging and current systems. When my Xbox 360 red rings again, I want to be able to play my games. The PlayStation 4 doesn’t have native backwards compatibility, either. For me, that’s a strike against the system. However, at least Sony is working on trying to make it happen with Gaikai and streaming the entire PlayStation 3 library.
I don’t want to buy a license to play, I want to buy the game. I want to own it. I want to do whatever I want with it. If my best friend Mike (hey, Mike!) wants to borrow my game, I want to loan it to him without worrying about how long he’s been on my Friends List or whether or not he loans it to someone else.
Even further, I want to be able to sell my game to whoever wants to pay me the most. Here’s an example. On a whim, I bought Tony Hawk: Ride at launch. It was a terrible, terrible mistake. I took it to GameStop like a week after it released, and they offered me about a third of what I paid them in the first place. So, I sold it on Amazon near full price. With the Xbox One, that’s not possible. I’d only be able to sell it to a joint like GameStop, and I’d lose a lot of money.
As a buyer, I pick up old used games off of eBay, Amazon and Craigslist all the time. I bought Too Human for the sake of hilarity in February for $3.50 on Amazon. That wouldn’t be possible with the Xbox One.
When I want a quick fix game with a campaign that lasts around six hours, I pony up a few bucks and pick it up at Redbox. Unless Microsoft clarifies their Xbox One policies, I can’t do that with the new system either.
“But mister, you use Steam! Steam has DRM, too!”
I do use Steam, little Johnny Commenter. I use it everyday, and I love it.
In fact, the only thing I hate about Steam is that it doesn’t have a common sense method of removing games from my library. Just, really, give me a “right-click, hide from Earth eyes forever” option, Gabe. How hard is that!?
Look, my reason for using Steam is really, really simple. They have amazing sales. Amazing. Sales. When Steam discounts games, they sell them for around 75% off. Right now, while drafting this post, I can get Saints Row: The Third for $10. Even better, it’s free to play all weekend long.
They do this every single week. Then, a couple times a year, Steam decides to, as the kids say, make it rain with their massive sales. For several days running, they slash the prices of just about every single game they offer.
So, yeah, I can’t let my friend borrow my copy of Just Cause 2 on Steam. But, hey, that’s fine, I got it for $2.49.
I can go offline for weeks at a time on Steam, too. I think it requires an online check-in like once a month. It has never affected me. I take my notebook on trains and planes and stay offline for the duration of whole trips. I’m still able to fire up FTL: Faster Than Light and die a horrific space death whenever I want.
Like Jerry Seinfeld at a bad play, I’m out.
If you’re wondering how we’ll handle Xbox One reviews here at TechnoBuffalo if I don’t own a console, well, I don’t have an answer for you. I know this: I won’t support the system with my money. Maybe another one of our editors is planning to buy the console. Eric? Ron?
If that means we’re skipping review coverage and the traffic we get from covering Halo 14, then so be it. We’ll follow the news, we’ll share the trailers and we’ll upload the screenshots, because we know you come here for that. This is about being a consumer, though, and the consumer in me won’t support the Xbox One as it stands right now. I will not give Microsoft my money.
If Sony decides to follow suit with their machine, I’m out of the PlayStation 4, too. Although, we already know that the PS4 won’t require an internet connection of any kind in order to work, so, bonus.
If Microsoft steps up and removes the online requirements and ridiculous license policies surrounding new and used games, I’ll be in like Flynn. Until then, sorry, I’m out. I don’t even care if they have a new Banjo-Kazooie for it. I’ll shed the manliest of tears if it’s announced, but I won’t bite.