Getting hyped for the next Xbox!

So the Xbox reveal event is happening on May 21st, less than a week from today.  Here’s what I’m looking forward to in the following weeks and months.  See if you can find a common theme!

Inappropriate cross-promotional media appearances

Brace yourself for seeing the next Xbox/online service on TV shows and movies.  You can expect characters to suddenly include name-dropping the Xbox Infinity (or whatever) just like they did with the Xbox 360 and “Bing”.  Remember Bing?  If you don’t, maybe you should Bing it!

 

Walmart, McDonalds, Mountain Dew partnership deals

This is classic Xbox.  By partnering up with the biggest and sluttiest American retailers/franchises, you literally won’t be able to escape the next Xbox.  The average consumer won’t even know that the PlayStation exists, but they’ll think that Microsoft’s new console is a game-changing event.

 

Publisher orgy

Sony is trying to make the PlayStation 4 extremely developer-friendly.  But developers aren’t the real movers and shakers of the industry.  Most of them are beholden to some lumbering tyrannical asshole corporation like Activision or EA.  Instead of making the next Xbox appealing to developers (or consumers) Microsoft is simply going to get in bed with the publishers, which will ensure plenty of products for their system.

 

Insane anti-competitive development clauses

Most people don’t know about it, but with the Xbox 360 Microsoft forced developers to make every game published on their system as attractive or better than the PS3, despite the hardware and storage space gap between the two.  This is why PS3 games often looked worse than the 360 ones, against all logic, and why pretty much nothing interesting happened with the hard drive.  (I can never seem to find a link to this story anymore, it never got proper attention and seems very hard to find.  If you find a link to it, send it to me on twitter @meta_gear)

I expect even worse restrictions this time around.  How about forcing any cross-platform developer who wants to be published on Xbox Infinity to include a 10 minute Xbox propaganda video at the beginning of their PS4 game launch?  It may be underhanded as fuck and betray the whole notion of optimizing for each system, but who gives a shit?  It worked before, and that means it will work again.

 

CISPA strategy

CISPA is the depressingly real Internet censorship bill threatening to turn the Internet into a “shoot first, ask questions later”-style corporate paradise, in which your activity will be monitored and shut down by the government with the flimsiest of excuses.  Why does Microsoft want this?  Because it will allow them to aggressively spy on and undermine their opposition, shut down piracy and file-sharing services, and basically police the online world however they want.  There is no protection against abuse in the bill, because it seems to assume that corporations and government will only use their new terrifying powers for the good of mankind!

And if rumors about the upcoming Xbox being a DRM nightmare creature are true, and if they manage to seduce publishers into signing on to their schemes, you better believe that piracy and online criticism are going to be a huge thorn in their side — which is why CISPA would sure be handy.

Another nice reminder about the state of the industry

You simply must read this piece from Penny-Arcade Report regarding Path of Exile. Here’s a sample of the article:

Grinding Gears is basing their game on a crazy business model: They want to make the players happy. This isn’t EA, a company that shrugs off customer complaints by looking at the bottom line; Grinding Gears legitimately spends time and effort trying to track the happiness of the players of the game.

While big publishers suffer losses and blame the economy, mobile games, and everything else under the Sun, maybe they need to consider this “crazy business model”, eh?  I dare say it’s working for Valve too.

Next-Gen Hopes

I’ve decided to compile my greatest hopes for the upcoming console war in a handy list.  It may be strangely specific in nature, but these are my hopes, so what do you expect?  Allow me to dream!  Each of my hopes includes a “best case scenario”, for that perfect storm setup…

blog_next-gen

(Click here to continue reading!)

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I dispute this claim

I’m not exactly sure about the context of this quotation, but apparently Entertainment Weekly reviewed Mass Effect 3 and said:

“… Mass Effect 3 has provoked a bigger fan reaction than any other videogame’s conclusion in the medium’s history.”

Which EA’s marketing department has happily embraced, using it in their promotional material like so.  The irony being that the “reaction” is mostly negative, etc.

That’s fine, but I have to disagree with Entertainment Weekly‘s claim.  There’s no doubt in my mind that Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty provoked a bigger fan reaction, if you account for what I like to call “internet inflation”.  Internet inflation, like old fashioned money inflation, is when you dilute the value of something by producing too much of it, making the numbers higher but the actual effect lower.

Back in 2001, the Internet was just getting off the ground as far as mainstream adoption went.  Google had only existed for four years, and Facebook wouldn’t be created for another three; YouTube was a year after that.  The infancy of the internet meant that sharing your opinions still had a trace of significance to it, with people behaving more like actual individuals and less like faceless lumps of coal trying to pile up to fuel some particular fire.  Nowadays internet activism and the “viral effect” has ensured that every little dislike will be exaggerated into the most dramatic Shakespearean opera they can, hoping that their collective force will change things if they all work together.  Ten million negative comments in this new inflated environment doesn’t equal ten thousand “legitimate” comments in the old days.

Stay true, Metal Gear Solid 2.