Why I (Probably) Won't Buy Xbox One

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 7.236% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Years ago, I abandoned my beloved gaming PC and got an XBox 360 instead.  It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Oh, I do occasionally miss my roleplaying games, but the XBox was a static investment – I didn’t have to keep sinking money into new videocards and RAM upgrades and, eventually, whole new computers.  That switch literally saved me thousands of dollars, and the gaming’s been almost as good. (I do miss mouse + keyboard for first-person shooters, and I do miss my in-depth roleplaying games.)
But I don’t think I’ll be switching to XBox One.  And I should.  I mean, I have a history on XBox at this point – all of my hard-earned Achievements, all of my purchased downloads, my XBox membership.  But it’s a hard sell for me, and it’s not because of:
The Kinect.  I have a Kinect.  After all the hype faded, it’s been kinda shitty – the voice recognition isn’t integrated into anything useful, the gestures don’t work well from my distant couch, and aside from Dance Central the games have been these spastic, flailing, thoroughly nonfun events.  But the fact that it’s watching me 24/7 is something I already pretty much experience, and at least I didn’t pay extra for it this time.
The “always-on” Internet.  I’m fortunate enough to need good Internet as part of my job, so that’s a part of my household expenses as it is.  Not the greatest move for a lot of poorer families, though.
The disappointing quote-unquote “new features.”  I’ll let Gordon Ramsay say it for me.  But I never really socialized on my XBox; it’s all about the games, man, and if Fallout 4 is good then I won’t care.
No, it’s the way they’re distributing the games.  You don’t own the games; you merely license them from Microsoft.  And can you sell them to Gamestop… or, more importantly, from Gamestop?  Not without the publishers’ permission.  And given that most publishers hate Gamestop for making five times as much money off of their games than they do, I’m gonna say that’s prooooobably a “no.”
Look, I dig that as a games publisher, you want to lap up that stream of moolah, and you deserve to.  What Microsoft is clearly trying to do is to become Steam, Valve’s way-too-popular digital download system… and if they did that properly, that’d be awesome.  Steam reprices their games downwards rapidly, holds lots of sales, makes dynamic changes based on user demand, and has a ton of free games to boot.  There has been talk saying that the reason most videogames are so riotously expensive is because publishers can’t make money off of resales, and so have to charge a ton up-front to ensure they get their fair share (as Gamestop will then sell the game used for $50, and then $40, and then $30, and so forth).
If that works?  I’m in.  I could use $40 games and $10 sales.
But I don’t think it’ll work that way.  I remember the land grab of Compact Discs, which actually cost less to make than Cassettes, and the record industry promising “Oh, yeah, they’re just twice as expensive as tapes because we make so few of these – the price will come down.”  Then they shot themselves in the foot by purposely taking this opportunity to raise prices forever, at least until piracy started looking like a great goddamned alternative to paying $17 for that one song you liked.
If Microsoft lowers the overall price of games?  Awesome.  I’ll watch for a few months to see what the game economy is, and if it’s an even mix of cheap and expensive, I’m in.  But I suspect this will be their opportunity to artificially raise the prices, forcing us so the only way we can purchase it is at $60 – forget your friend giving it to you permanently, forget getting it on eBay, et cetera. This will be their CD moment, where the cost of gaming will rise across the board.
(Though to their credit, they have said up to 10 family members can share a game.  One suspects there will be a lot of impromptu families made at college.)
And if that’s the case? Fuck that.  I’ve gotten turned on to some of my greatest games by a buddy tossing me his disc and saying, “Try this shit!” or me taking a Gamestop chance at $20.  Remove that, and make it so my only option is full-price?  I won’t.  It’s just too valuable a deal to give up.
…unless Fallout 4 is really good.  I mean, like really good.  Then maybe we can talk, Microsoft.

2 Comments

  1. Mark D
    Jun 11, 2013

    Just wondering: any love for the Playstation 4 then? They seem less intrusive and Fallout 4 should appear on that system as well.

    • TheFerrett
      Jun 14, 2013

      It’s all about the games, man. If the games are good, I’ll be there. If not, who cares? (And rumor is that Microsoft has gotten an exclusive Fallout 4 for XBone.)

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