A month ago, Ben Kuchera wrote an article over at Penny Arcade about how awesome it is that “X Box killed used games”. He suggested that the X-1 DRM measures will be great for gaming because it will combat piracy and kill the used-games market (or leave it open but give the publishers double-dip profits), and this will, in his hypothetical and highly unlikely reality, lead to a cut in Gamestop’s profits and discounts of up to 90% in sales of digital-only, license-based games.
Now, hypothetical futures based on “PC Master Races” models are always amusing, but when those “hey, this may be could perhaps happen and maybe it will be cool” wishes come accompanied with strong claims like “Microsoft killed used games, that’s a good thing” then we have to question the accuracy of the piece.
For a while now I’ve been having the most depressing feeling that the 8th generation (Wii U, PS 4, X-1) would be the last video game generation. I’m not the only one who’s had this feeling for a while. Over at Kotaku, Luke Plunkett wrote an interesting piece about how video game console releases are bumming him out. When the Wii U was released, I felt a bit let down. It wasn’t the great improvement over its predecessor that I had expected it to be. Instead, it was a console with a power boost and a new gimmicky controller. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Granted, it has the Marios, Zeldas, Fire Emblems, and a host of other great 1st party and exclusive titles (these have always been the main appeal of Nintendo consoles), but I felt less excited than for the Wii release. Then, the Microsoft held a press conference for the X-1. If you don’t want to see the full hour long presentation, see the highlights here.
Following this top-notch presentation, news came out that the X-1 would embrace anti-consumer practices. It would come bundled with a Kinect that would have to be always on. It will have to connect every 24 hours to authenticate your single-player disc-based games, and there are restrictions on what you can (or can’t) do with the games you buy (can’t trade, buy, lend, or give away, with only a few exceptions). After facing some backlash, Microsoft made an announcement that “Microsoft may change its policies […] to reflect modifications suggested by consumers and business partners”. Some interpreted this as a good thing. I read it as Microsoft taking away the few pro-consumer features the X-1 had, like sharing games with family. The reveal was so poor, that Wii-U sales increased shortly after. But, hey, at least Microsoft talked about Call of Duty Ghost, Madden, and Fifa. This morning’s press conference wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. They showed Halo 5, Battlefield 4, the exclusive Killer Instinct (I would argue that this is their killer game app), and a few other interesting titles. Still, nothing that made me say “I need this console” while all the anti-consumerist concerns lingered in the back of my mind.
The only thing missing was the PS 4.
And then came today a few hours ago.