I’m writing this not as a fan of any one platform, but as a fan of gaming. We keep hearing rumors about what the “Next Gen” of gaming is going to do: and all of it seems bad. From download only to locking out used games, it seems like every story we hear isn’t even about how powerful the next gen will be (like we used to get each time a new one was coming), but how it is poised to bend over it’s fans and have it’s way with them.
Now personally, I generally play PC, so to me the above doesn’t sound like much until I understand how much more console gamers pay per game then I will or even have to. The advantage they have is that they can trade in and buy used to cheapen the cost of their games.
And I have had my arguments in the past about how Gamestop has basically raped developers with this, and my view of the practice where you buy a handful of copies over the pre-order number and then just keep shelves stalked with used copies after that hasn’t really changed. But that’s Gamestop’s issue, not the gamers or the systems. For them, it is a strength. And losing that option would hurt both in the crossfire between developer and Gamestop.
But then Microsoft did something that makes all this seem trivial in comparison… they ran an experiment sales model that shakes the very reason to buy a console in the first place: They turned the 360 into a cellphone.
I don’t mean literally, of course. I mean that as of now, you can sign up for a 2 year contract to pay for both the your 360 and XBL like the big cell-phone companies did and still do for their services. And while I rolled my eyes and prayed this would fail, it seems the damage just might have been done. We have started to hear rumors that this could be the way console makers counter the higher price of the next generation of consoles. As a gamer, I can not accept this.
For one, it is an absolute bullshit ploy. Consoles have always cut corners for costs, be it being a few generations behind in the graphic chip department or quality of parts (yes, you Microsoft.. you will not live down the RROD days for a long time), but in the end, the initial cost of the console is usually around the same price each time, allowing for inflation… well, unless your name is Sony, but we all saw how well that worked.
And as a second note, do you REALLY think your gamers want to be stuck with a system that they do not know if they will love or not because they are in a contract? There was a whole ad campaign AGAINST this in cellphones lately where it’s already a fairly standard practice, so what the HELL do you think gamers are going to like about tacking this one on?
Seriously, all you are doing is risking losing a large portion of your audience to ring a few more bucks out of the ones that stay. Please stop. I may like PC gaming, but I also like choice, and you guys are going to stop being choices if you keep behaving like this.