Yeah, I’ve got a thing for really long names for my posts. But it’s eye-catching and sums up the points I’m about to make. Microsoft has totally bungled almost everything they’ve put their hands on lately. Windows Phone, Bing, and now the Xbox One (note: I really do like Windows 8 though, and while I’m still primarily a Mac user, my Samsung Series 7 Slate is my favorite of all the tablets I’ve owned).
Right now, however, I’m focusing exclusively on the Xbox One. Don’t get me wrong. MS haven’t shot themselves in the foot. It’s more like they dropped a nuclear bomb straight onto themselves. First off, from what I’ve heard, the Xbox One and the PS4 have the same processor, but the PS4 has a superior GPU.
But non-geeks don’t care about that, as long as it plays their games
But it doesn’t. If there’s one thing the Xbox One doesn’t do, it’s play games. For starters, it isn’t backwards-compatible with Xbox 360 games. Hmm… so you’re going to buy this console at launch and have maybe a dozen launch titles and no legacy games to fall back on. Sure you might still have your 360, but what if you’ve decided (like me) that your living room is already cluttered enough and you’d like to get rid of it? Or what if you want to sell your 360 to help you afford this likely-overpriced brick?
Maybe they just couldn’t pull off backwards-compatibility?
No… just no. You know the Asus Transformer Book Trio? If that’s possible, surely MS can make a product that can run both Xbox One games and legacy 360 ones. In fact, it’s running three different operating systems at once. This wouldn’t be much of a stretch. Yes, it’s a different architecture, but those chips are from 2005, dinosaurs in this industry. They’re cheap enough they ought to be selling them right next to the Pringles and Lays by now. MS could easily throw one in without significantly increasing the price of the console. Basically, due to MS stinginess, your Xbox One will be virtually useless for quite awhile after buying it.
But wait… there’s more!
So not only can an Xbox One not play 360 games, it can’t play Xbox One games either.
I’m dead serious. The Xbox One can’t play Xbox One games. No internet connection? Crappy connection? Then your console won’t allow you to play your games, even offline. It has to phone home every 24 hours just to enable this. Oh, and like to try out games borrowed from your friend? You can’t. Like to try them out by renting them? Too bad, you can’t. Oh, and aside from the 24 hour phoning home restriction, my favorite, multitudes of restrictions on used games that essentially mean you won’t be able to buy them (publishers can, and most likely will, prevent it altogether, or apply additional “transfer fees”). I happen to like buying used games. New games are about as overpriced as name-brand clothing, and if you buy either thing, you’re a sucker. And so are MS for trying this kind of thing. Making enemies with the likes of GameStop et al. is in no way good for them. Due to the large number of people who purchase their games (and consoles) through such stores, they have great power to influence one’s console purchase. And guess which console they’ll push (hint: it’s not the one that has essentially waged war against them).
Get your head out of the cloud
Okay, so I do have a bit of bias to admit. I’m strongly against cloud-dependency. It’s the reason I’m always slamming ChromeOS. I’m not against the cloud as a concept, as long as you aren’t forced to use it. It’s great to have your data synced across devices, as long as you also have a local copy. What if MS goes out of business (yes, it’s unlikely, but not impossible)? Or, what if, more likely, they decide in a few years that every Xbox One user should buy an Xbox Two (it probably won’t be called this, but while not a legitimate reason not to buy the One, I do need to mention how illogical their naming pattern is). Those (completely unnecessary) verification servers cost money to run, and why would MS ever spend that money on allowing people to use their now-obsolete console, when they’d love to sell you an “Xbox Two”? And here’s the biggest problem. Why would you buy a console that its developers have to “allow” you to use, on a day-by-day basis, after you’ve bought it? One could argue that MS wouldn’t want to risk losing customer loyalty, but they’ve already proven that they couldn’t care less. Anyone remember the Windows Phone 8 debacle? Everyone who bought an expensive new top-of-the-line Lumia (I forget what it’s called… MS/Nokia suck at naming things logically) only days before WP8 was announced was stuck with no upgrade path. MS (and its fanboys) argue a bootloader incompatibility. Mhmm. Do explain how years ago, I was able to emulate EFI to boot a hackintosh, using open-source utilities developed by hobbyists. MS certainly had the capability to do the same for WP7.x devices, but why would they? They don’t care about customer loyalty. At all. They have an awful track record. Don’t think that they won’t try it again.
Microsoft is working hard to craft its biggest flop yet. It can’t compete with the PS4 on specs, it can’t play games (neither 360 titles nor its own for that matter), it looks like a VCR from the early 90’s, its name is hardly appropriate for a console that is, in fact, third in its series, and it’s being placed carefully on the path to planned obsolescence.
Sony, this is my appeal to you. I know you’ve made your mistakes (the geohot lawsuit anyone), but you’ve been doing great lately. Releasing the source code for your Android firmwares on time? And so far at least, not immersing your products in unnecessary DRM and cloud dependency. Keep it up, and you’re sure to win this generation’s console wars.
(P.S., if anyone at Sony is reading this, I was really impressed by one of your stores when I visited a few days ago… I’d love to review that 4K 82″ TV I saw )
…Let’s hope MS has at least solved the Red Ring of Death, or this isn’t a Windows Phone level failure; it’s a Microsoft Bob level failure.