Reneg...

So, I wrote about XBox One and how I'm not a Microsoft fan, and this week they drop all kinds of facts likely to piss off your average gamer.  Must be online at least once a day, a game is registered to one person, only authorized resellers can trade games...  Highly foreign concepts to a 30 year old industry that has thrived on borrowing & reselling.  Music fell that way a little slower and naturally, but when's the last time you made a mix-tape or lent a CD to a friend?

Those acts take dollars out of developers accounts and someone wholly unrelated makes a profit.  Microsoft is on the side of the developers, and there's no reason they shouldn't be.  It's auto makers and gas companies.  Doctors and pharmaceuticals.  These things don't exist without the other so helping each other out at the consumers expense is hardly surprising.  But I find myself realizing, as I feel the urge to finally navigate away from "high-end" consoles and devote myself to the one manufacturer I trust and love (Nintendo) and opting for PC gaming for my other platform for video games, I'm not really navigating away from Microsoft's "new" philosophy.

The idea of being the sole owner of a physical medium and that piece worthless and/or useless to any other party is one that has permeated PC for many years now, even beyond DRM.  No retailer and very few resellers would take in an opened PC game because they wouldn't know if you had just installed it on your machine and tried to get your money back to have a free/discounted game through a loophole.  And with PC games largely being activated online, even if you can play it offline, they're only ever tied to your machine.

Granted, Steam allows you to install a game any amount of times on any number of machines, so long as you're logged into your account.  That's a key difference between the current PC market and what Microsoft is proposing.  Unlimited versus limited, respectively, but there is still no physical medium for you or a third party to profit from at your discretion.  This transaction is solely between you and the distributor and that's all there will ever be.

Now, needing to check-in online to validate accounts, even for a single-player game, gets a little tricky.  Some games you can understand, it has a multiplayer aspect, it needs to check for updates, like any software, but for the most part, if you download it to your machine, it should work, in a single-player aspect, regardless.  It should.  But plenty of machines we play with today will brick one day and we have no problem with it:  Phones.

Mobile, casual gaming is the hotness, they're always connected, few games or apps you use can function away from an internet connection and it only ever works on the machine you download it to, or similar machines.  I have an iPhone 4.  If I went Android for my next device, I couldn't take any of those games or apps I have along with me.  But if I got another iPhone variation, I could keep everything.  And NO ONE complains about this, but it's exactly what Microsoft is doing, and Sony may very well be doing, they haven't said one way or another (funny how vagary is being more appreciated than straight-forward right now; no news is good news, eh?).

I can't applaud Microsoft, there's still some really shitty, fuck the consumer, practice going on here, and that damn pay-wall.  But you might say, "you mentioned phones, there's a pay-wall there, if not for just the actual telephone service, a fee to access the internet!"  Valid.  But over wifi it doesn't affect my package, I'm paying to access the web ANYWHERE, and not for things I can access for no charge or hassle on another device between devices.  Microsoft is still looking to make their money and lock-down leaks of that money in any way they can.  I'm no fan, but they're doing something most everyone is fine with in other devices, so again, I can't fault them.

Anyone surprised by the government listening to phone calls, accessing web profiles, and tracking locations through your web-enabled devices is delusional.  Ask the Mob, they've been under illegal surveillance forever.  So Microsoft's always on, always watching, is neither a surprise.  We live in the world of Big Brother, 1984 is real, and where good ol' Ben Franklin may have said sacrificing freedom to gain security is bad, he didn't live in our highly connected society.  If you have a problem, the wonderful thing about the free-world is, you don't have to buy the things "they" are using against you.  And if you complain you need your modern conveniences you just don't want to be monitored, think about the opposite side of the coin: disasters.  The always on, always watching society could help you survive a catastrophe, could stop an in-progress event, and scary as it might seem, prevent something from even happening.

Am I apologizing for Microsoft's attempt to control their own cash-flow and the government for watching us?  Maybe.  But if you're not doing anything wrong, if your moral fiber is strong, then you have nothing to worry about.  If you enjoy a game or activity and feel certain about its personal entertainment value to you, then purchase the experience and own it, even if for a little while.  You can't take the experience of an amusement park or theater performance with you once it's done.  And there are people watching you there and preventing shit as well.  Encapsulated experience is becoming worldly norm.

So, go on Microsoft, people will buy the XBox One, they will enjoy the games, they'll even forget that you're tangentially watching them.  You're just another in a long line to have done it for so long, people forget that they cared about it before.

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