Should I feel bad for playing and enjoying games? The game industry sure is making me feel that way.
The next generation of consoles seems to be going all out on proving that they aren’t just for gaming. That’s all well and good, but I’m one that thinks gaming consoles should focus first and foremost on gaming. I’m not against the idea of other content being made available, but why on earth is that content being made the focus?
The reason I’m all fired up is because of Micrsoft’s unveiling of the Xbox One, their successor to the Xbox 360. I feel like all three hardware makers are really struggling with their identities lately, but today’s Microsoft press conference really pushed me over the edge.
When I watch this Xbox conference, I feel like the game industry is embarrassed of itself for being the game industry. - Emily Rogers
First off, I am reserving final judgment on the Xbox One until I see their E3 presentation. Microsoft made if very clear that the Xbox One is going to focus on all sorts of entertainment for the living room, which is why today’s event had games taking a lesser role. I do get that those other features are important, but why in the hell are we having this kind of presentation for a games console?! Here’s the first time our new game console is unveiled. Now look at all these ways you can watch and interact with TV/movies/music.
When we did get to next-gen game talk, it was all a bunch of buzz words and bogus promises. That’s not to say that the game industry hasn’t been guilty of this before, but they just seem to be getting worse with each generation. It’s almost like the industry has realized that they don’t know how to innovate anymore, but are too afraid to admit it. They just keep trying to pull the wool over our eyes.
Look at the reveal of Call of Duty: Ghosts for Xbox One. What lame reasons did Activision have to tell us that the next-gen is going to make amazing things possible? We get a dog companion and individual arm hairs. How in the HELL do you put together a game trailer to try and sell people on next-gen by showing us arm hairs?! Who in the world is going to buy a game for that reason?
This really was the one point that truly irked me. Next-gen is going to be better because it lets us see individual arm hairs on a character. What gamer is going to sit and stare at this feature, then trumpet it as one of the reasons as to why next-gen is truly worth it? I cannot get over this. Instead of hearing about new mechanics and AI that is only possible on next-gen, we learn about hairy arms and how things look smoothed out when we get close. Man, sign me up for that game!
EA did the same damn thing with their talk of next-gen sports games. It’s no secret that you can only innovate so much with sports titles. You can’t really evolve the sport without going in a more sensational direction, which isn’t what EA’s sports lineup is about. We’re going to get more of the same games with roster updates. That’s completely fine if that’s your thing. I’m not knocking sports fans at all. I just wish EA would stop trying to dress things up. We’re playing the same game we’ve been playing the last 7 years. It’ll just look a little better.
That’s just the little stuff, though. This new Xbox is going out of its way to make gamers feel bad for not doing anything wrong. Now every single game has to have some element installed on your Xbox One. That means that games are tied to an account. What’s the big deal about that? Well, it means that you can’t let your friends borrow games or you can’t borrow from them. Well, truth be told, you can still do that. The thing is, you’ll have to pay a fee to play them. (UPDATE - This information is now being disputed)
Microsoft also released a bit of PR that says the system doesn’t have to be always online, but an internet connection is required. Can someone tell me what that means? So…we can play some games without needing online, but the system needs an online connection for all sorts of stuff that the game might use? If the game only offers cloud storage for saves, I guess that means we need that online all the time. We keep getting further and further away from just playing damn games. The industry is putting up as many barriers and useless features as possible for us to hurdle before we play.
That brings me back to the TV talk that I mentioned earlier. Xbox One is all about letting you watch TV in numerous ways. Wave your hands, use your voice, snap things to the screen…do it all while you’re watching TV. The same thing goes for Nintendo TVii. Bring up a guide to see what’s on, look at favorite shows, control the TV with your GamePad and change channels. Are these features nice? I guess so, but who buys game consoles for that? Do you know anyone out there that plans to purchase a Wii U for Nintendo TVii or a Xbox One for these connected TV options? If there are consumers like that out there, I’m willing to be they aren’t much into games. That’s exactly what we want. Consumers not interested in games buying game systems, giving companies even more reasons to focus less on software.
We haven’t even gotten into the talk of PS4’s share button. Now we can’t just play games, we have to have multiple options to let people know of what we’ve done in a game. Beat a level, destroyed an opponent, created a glitch. Now you can record and share all that stuff online all the time. Why do game consoles want me to spend so much time not playing games and instead talking to others about how I have a game system? All this stuff gets in the way of the gaming experience, which is what the game industry used to be about.
It’s all about being boastful nowadays. It’s all about bragging and fanboys, flame wars and ammunition. Microsoft wants you to use their NFL features on Xbox One to play fantasy football and rub your wins in your friends’ faces. They want you to know you can bring your Gamerscore over from the 360 so everyone can know about your imaginary total that means nothing. Sony wants you to share your owning of online competitors via Facebook. You can even hit up Miiverse on the Wii U and brag about how great you are at ZombiU. I think I’m in the minority here, but this stuff doesn’t sit well with me.
Are there people who will use the above features in a positive way? Of course there are and I’m all for that. The problem is, the majority won’t use them in that way. Just look at how bad the situation is right now with online chat? It’s curse after curse, slur after slur. Now platforms are giving us even more ways to spread racism and anger. Yes, these services are moderated, but we all know that things are still just as bad now as they were earlier.
I don’t care about arm hairs. I don’t care about watching TV on my console. I don’t care about fantasy football league integration. I don’t care about sharing my accomplishments on social media. I don’t care about Gamerscores. I don’t care about hundreds of thousands of servers. I don’t care about voice commands for consoles. I don’t care about smooth edges. I don’t care about console shape/size. I don’t care about recording gameplay. I don’t care about recommended movies. I don’t care about 4K resolution.
If you do care about that as a gamer, I am happy for you. Personally, I care about having a controller and playing games. I feel like the hardware manufactures and some developers are caring less and less about that.
Either that, or I’m just getting old and grumpy. That’s a distinct possibility.