I know it’s not an original joke at this point, but I think it’s funny, so there.
I was rather pleased when I got home from work last night to discover that Microsoft has backed off on its draconian DRM policies for its upcoming console, the X-Box One. It seems that consumers making their voices heard on business policies they disagree with does, in this case at least, make a difference. The pitch of the console still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, however, moreso than the initial reveal of the PS4 did. As much as Sony has come out of the E3 conference looking like a paragon of consumer-friendly virtue, it seems to me that all they’ve done is nail down their niche in the new console market.
It’s pretty clear what’s going on, at least to me. Rather than scrambling for the same market, the big three manufacturers have refined their efforts. Nintendo is continuing their family-friendly approach, and I think the next few months will see more Wii U games emerge that either offer new family game night experiences or provide adults something to play after the kids go to bed. Sony is clearly more interested in the dedicated gamers in their late teens and into early 30s. As their games emerge and their price point comes down, the plan seems to be to appeal more and more to folks looking to get the most bang for their console gaming buck. As for Microsoft, their focus seems to remain on people interested in using the Internet for every entertainment need ever. And while they’re ratcheted back on their desire to be Emperor of All Games, the broad scope of the console’s functionality still smacks of desperation, and the Kinect always, always, watching or listening is no less creepy now than it was when they first suggested it.
To me, however, the conundrum of new consoles is that I have around zero interest in any of these machines, provided they don’t have any exclusive titles (Damn you, Bayonetta 2!). The fact is that a new video card for my PC will almost always be less expensive than a brand new next-gen console. I know this may put me in the “glorious PC gaming master race” category and somewhat marginalize my opinion in the minds of others, but that’s how I see it. With Steam and GOG.com providing all sorts of gaming from big glitzy titles to experimental independent titles, I have yet to come up with a justification for spending hundreds of dollars on a new way to do this.
Local multiplayer that doesn’t require a local area network is a plus, to be certain, but few are the brand new games that fill that niche that hasn’t already been filed by Golden Axe or Perfect Dark or Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. And with the Ouya (full review coming soon, I swear!) providing both new titles and emulation of old favorites at a fraction of the cost of the big boys, the rationalization for a new large box taking up entertainment center space grows smaller and smaller.
How do these consoles look to you? Have you pre-ordered a PS4 or XBone? Are you waiting to see what titles will be available on PC as well as new consoles?