Weekend Short-Takes: 7/19/13

Microsoft admits 'shame' for flawed Xbox One messaging, hints Family Sharing could return

Simon Wu:
Firstly, this apology is very justified. The lack of communication from one Don Mattrick was the single biggest reason the ambitious digital plans failed. The failure has come full circle; now that gamers are finally just beginning to understand the great things that were on tap, instead of only hearing always-online and no used games 24/7, they are finding that they actually like some of the features. Hence, the rise of a petition asking Microsoft to reinstate them. Hopefully the new Microsoft reorg will reinvigorate Xbox with much needed energy and resources from the gargantuan Windows group and help them refocus the message before launch.

Max Gruber:
It is justified, yes, but the damage has already been done nonetheless. It’s hard to see communicating very basic instructions on what to say about the Xbox One. I also find it hard to believe that petition asking Microsoft to reinstate the Family Sharing feature, along with the always-online connection. I get this weird feeling that they’re doing it to confuse Microsoft.

People: WE DON’T WANT AN ALWAYS-ONLINE CONSOLE!
Microsoft: Okay. We’ll remove it.
Petition: This was meant to be the future of entertainment.
Microsoft: Uh... What do we do?

John Fenix:
As we have all been taught, someone must be able to communicate an idea for it be heard. Obviously Microsoft has learned this lesson the hard way and this is definitely going to hurt them in the short term. They are hopefully become more open about explaining what we will have to look forward to, but as I have said before, there is no need to say what will happen until people pick up these consoles themselves and start playing. Until then, Microsoft can at least find someone who doesn't beat around the bush.

Alex Miller:
This is the kind of thing I was talking about when I said I wasn’t exactly thrilled by the Microsoft reversal on the Xbox One. Finally gamers are starting to understand that instead of just being left with a bunch of tired memes extolling the evils of always online they could have had a system that might have genuinely advanced the gaming industry in terms of digital distribution on consoles. I’m glad Microsoft is looking to work on communicating with their audience better (as Simon and I have often said this has been their biggest problem) and that these features might eventually come back. The compromise they mention at the end, about providing choice, is the single biggest thing I think they should focus on. Make gamers understand that these features are there if they want them, and invariably they will be used since downloading a game is much easier than driving to gamestop or Best Buy. Only time will tell how this plays out, but seeing how we are still months away from launch I could certainly see Microsoft being able to fully recover from this whole “fiasco.”

theverge.com

Ubisoft Not Interested in Games That Aren't Franchises

Simon Wu:
And this surprised no one. I think that Ubisoft insisting on making things franchises is being confused with Ubisoft is not going to make any new IPs and milk its franchises dry. On the contrary, I think it means that we will continue to see new long series, predicated on one thing: that they’re good. And right now, I see almost no reason that Ubisoft shouldn’t be trusted in this regard. But I’m still holding judgment on AC4.

Max Gruber:
I don’t mind if Ubisoft only cares about making franchises that are successful, as long as they stick to the fundamental reasons why we play one of their games (an example of them not sticking to the aesthetics for one of their franchises: Assassin’s Creed). I personally like the idea of them creating something that they are willing to make, instead of something that no one would care about. Afterall, if Watch Dogs and The Division really take off, I’m perfectly fine with them making sequels, as long as it isn’t milked to death like Assassin’s Creed has become.

John Fenix:
I agree with Simon, just because Ubisoft focuses on franchises doesn't mean they aren't going to end up repetitive. If they build and innovate, while giving people familiar characters to transition into new ideas, Ubisoft might have a winning combination. It might even create new IP franchises. Watch Dogs would probably haven't happened or at in it's current form, if it wasn't for the open-world story narrative success of the Assassin Creed series. Again, as Simon pointed out, their upcoming games are going to be the test for this new philosophy.

Kinect costs "almost as much" as Xbox One to make, says dev

Simon Wu:
So the Xbox One is a tremendous loss leader. But it makes sense: Microsoft absolutely wants to avoid Kinect going the way of Sony’s Move; that is to say, into useless oblivion. I wonder if this is also why we didn’t see any price cuts on the 360 E either. However, we are just barely into production with these units, and the price should fall dramatically over the next few years, as they always do. Once again, Microsoft is failing to communicate to the consumer that this is an amazing deal. Why don’t they show us what we’re getting for the price, hit Sony back for cutting PS Eye, and demonstrate why that was a vastly inferior product?

Max Gruber:
So, in theory, the Xbox One should cost ~$800-$1,000 to buy. That sounds fantastic. But, in all seriousness, I think there has to be a good reason to use the Kinect besides just navigating menus on the Dashboard. Just saying “Xbox: Turn on” isn’t going to be as exciting the hundredth time you decide to turn on the device. And they have to let us know that the Kinect is not watching us all the time, or else they’ll lose a lot of people who were planning on getting it. Seriously, the comments about this has been getting annoying to the point of being irrational. It’s not only a breach of personal privacy, but it’s creepy as hell if the Kinect is watching you all the time.

John Fenix:
Microsoft may really need to showcase some innovative moves and abilities for the Kinect to justify inclusion, not that the Kinect isn't capable of doing some crazy things. Plus with privacy issues all the buzz, it definitely would put some people on edge to get it, even though there is an easy solution to not worrying about the uneasiness of looking at you, which is just turn it around to face the wall.

Alex Miller:
Once again the problem here seems to stem from the root of all of Microsoft’s Xbox One related issues: poor communication. As the others have said they need to make a stronger case for the inclusion of Kinect and hit out at Sony for the relative lack of features included with their console. As for the privacy concerns, beyond John’s incredibly pragmatic solution there is also the fact that the Kinect can’t be “spying” on you all the time as this would make the device illegal in countries like Germany and Australia. However, beyond all that, I like the fact that Microsoft is willing to take the hit early on the Kinect in order to build the market for it. As stated in the article it will be much easier to convince devs to include the Kinect in their plans if they know it will definitely be there. This will hopefully lead to some very cool uses of the Kinect by creative developers, and all because Microsoft is willing to suck up the losses early on. Forward thinking by Microsoft, well done to them.

gamesindustry.biz

Ubisoft: Xbox One, PS4 preorders two times past gen

Simon Wu:

The dedicated games space is finished, they said. This will be the last console generation, they said. In all seriousness though, this is a result mainly of two things, neither of which explicitly suggests that all the analysts are dead wrong. Firstly, this shows how powerful the most recent generation was at pushing the concept of the preorder. They’ve mastered it pretty well, pushing the hype, launch day titles, limited editions, and exclusive content codes. The second thing is that, yes, far more people are buying the console. But far more people... exist. It’s the same reason why I’m not impressed or interested in the fact that each successive Call of Duty smashes all the records again.

Max Gruber:
The next gen consoles may have twice as many pre-orders as this generation, but it probably won’t topple the PS1’s towering 102 million units sold in its lifetime. Honestly, I think people will stay with what they have now, because switching platforms is a really hard thing to do, especially when there’s no cross-compatibility with the games from this generation. There will be the people that buy them day one, but there will also be those that decide to wait until a price drop occurs. The PS4 and the Xbox One are coming this November, so we’ll have to see.

John Fenix:
Again, I agree with Simon's points but would also like to point out that this previous generation has added a lot of non-video game related content that turned out to be a significant chunk of console usage, and this doesn't seem to be going away with this next generation. So, while games are a big part, some of the customer’s focus for getting the console may not just be gaming.

Alex Miller:
Agreeing completely with John that, as Simon and I have long said, consoles are home media devices now. You expect the bang for your buck when you drop that amount of money and this past console generation has shown that added features and content can be just as big as exclusive titles. Since we have more additional features on consoles now than ever before it makes sense that these consoles can attract a wide audience with an even wider array of interests. I also believe that this article is further evidence of the undisputed fact that gaming is truly entering the mainstream, meaning numbers like this shouldn’t be surprising. 

gamespot.com

inigomiguel1015's picture

Switching platforms is a really hard thing to do. - David Contarino

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