XBoned, Part Two

Two years ago, I never thought I’d see the day when I’d rabidly defend Sony as the good guys. Well, that day has come, and it’s been here ever since the PS4 and Xbox One announcements. As much as MS is willing to change the status quo when there’s money in it for them, they’ve revealed that they’re keeping it with the Xbox One in one particularly ridiculous case: Xbox Live Gold is required for pretty much everything.

Basically, MS keeps the status quo when it’s anti-consumer to do so, and will change it when the changes are anti-consumer. You know, I used to feel sympathetic for MS when considering the anti-trust lawsuit against them in the 90’s. Bundling a browser with an OS? Nothing wrong with that. But now? Not so much. Throw the book at ’em. Bundling a browser with an OS then charging a monthly fee to use it? There’s a special circle of hell for whoever came up with that idea.

TL;DR Microsoft hates you.

Okay. Now that I’ve gotten that rant out of my system, maybe I can take a breath and actually explain what’s going on, and how MS is being evil. Skype, Netflix, Youtube. Household names. Skype and Youtube can be accessed for free from almost any internet-connected device. And on almost any internet-connected device, Netflix can be accessed by only paying Netflix. This means your computer, your phone, your PS4. But not your Xbox One. For whatever reason, MS blocks these services unless you pay them $60/year for a service that’s primarily for online gaming. And services that cost MS nothing to offer you, because (except in the case of Skype) they aren’t MS services. Youtube is streamed from Google, and Netflix from Netflix. MS is basically censoring these services, and trying to charge you to uncensor them. And yes, Skype is a MS service, but why only charge for it on the Xbox? It’s free on computers and mobile devices. And I think it’s even supported on some TV’s. Actually, so are Netflix and Youtube. It’s a pretty greedy move from MS to try to charge for services you might already be able to access on your TV anyway. Let’s form an analogy here, because everyone loves analogies, right?

Let’s say Google or Apple, or [insert choice of deity here]-forbid, Microsoft or RIM (…wait, does Blackberry even have any of these apps?), decided to charge for the Netflix, Youtube, or Skype app (let’s not consider the Youtube app for Google, or the Skype app for MS). As in, the publisher of the app offers it for free, but the developer of the platform chooses to require a monthly fee for you to use the app, despite the fact that the use of the app costs them nothing. You bought the device. It’s yours to install whatever you want on it (well, all of the aforementioned companies, Google aside, disagree with this to some extent, but…). You don’t owe the platform developer a disproportionally large monthly fee for the “privilege” of installing certain “special” third-party apps. We as a society have fallen a long way if we’re going to accept this as a privilege and not a right. Just like playing used games. At least MS fell back on that one, but I hope you’re noticing a trend here. MS sees basic rights of ownership as privileges they can license to us. If there’s significant backlash, they’ll go back on it, because they’re pretty much the very definition of whores – they’ll do anything for money, and if they’ll actually lose sales by trampling on your rights? That’s bad.

Allow me to take a moment to remind you that the PlayStation 4 only requires you to purchase a PS+ subscription for online gaming. And apparently in some cases not even for that. And you know what? That’s fair. It’s all fine and dandy that Sony is charging for a service that actually requires them to spend money to own and operate. But they’ve got the decency to not charge you for services that don’t require any infrastructure on their part and don’t cost them anything (if somehow the Xbox One Netflix and Youtube apps actually do require special backend infrastructure on MS’s part, they need to fire every last one of their programmers… such a design is beyond stupid). And if they are using special servers for these third-party services, it’s all the more reason to not purchase an Xbox One. You’re apparently supporting some of the most idiotic developers in the world.

I was going to make an actual table to help you keep track of the score between the Xbox One and the PS4, but then got lazy and decided to just write everything out. Which one’s got the better specs? PS4. Which one, from the start, wasn’t going to block used games? PS4. Which one costs $399, as opposed to its competitor at $499? PS4. And now, which one lets you use third-party online services without paying some inane monthly subscription to do so? PS4. If you’re not counting, that’s PS4: 4, XB1, 0. Hey, maybe they should rename it the Xbox Zero! Zero reasons to choose it over the PS4!

But… but… that $500 price includes a camera!

Typical MS marketing spin. Consumer choice is bad amirite? Let’s force users to buy and have connected a camera accessory. Despite the fact that it increases up-front cost and adds an additional point of failure. You know, instead of just making it optional and allowing the consumer to decide whether they actually want it or not.

I know I’m beating a dead horse by now. It’s obvious that you should buy the PS4 (oh, and my friend has been showing me some pretty awesome PlayStation exclusives), and it’s been obvious since the beginning. But hey. Now I can issue this challenge. To even the boldest MS fanboy. I dare you to defend the Xbox One after all the evidence I’ve presented in favor of the PS4 over the last few months. Make it good enough, and I’ll allow you to post your own thoughts in a new post, on my blog, along with an apology from me for criticizing your console of choice. No takers? Didn’t think so.

And Sony? If you’re reading this, may I please have a PS4 unit to review? 

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