For better or worse(okay, for worse), no company has been in the lips and fingers of gamers lately like Microsoft has. The X-Box One(XB1) reveal an subsequent details on its operation, policies and DRM/used game sale measures have caused the internet to explode with an intensity rarely seen short of monumental events like natural disasters or major political upheavals. Quite simply, it’s this gaming generation’s “Kennedy got shot” moment: everyone can easily tell you when and where they were when they got the news and what they felt at the moment.
Many people are prophesying the end times for gaming, seeing MS’s draconian policies as proof that the gaming industry is now headed towards a dark age. But me, I see something else. People are saying that MS has just put the ball in developers’ court and that they can now use the consumer as they see fit in their effort to earn more money, but what’s actually happened is something I consider even more dramatic: Microsoft has, inadvertently, just empowered the gaming consumer to a level never before seen in gaming, perhaps even financial, history.
Now you may be asking how the hell this is the case when one sees all the different policies and “features” the XB1 has that are geared towards limiting the consumer’s right of ownership and control over their purchase, but that’s the thing: unless Sony dramatically changes their strategy for worse and services such as Steam and GOG immediately stop giving gamers good values for the money, the gaming console war has now become a polarized affair. In previous generations, barring personal tastes in games and substantial hardware advantage, gamers of any console could expect to have a relatively similar experience as consumers. Some services might have seemed less of a good investment than others, but on the whole, gamers of, say, the PS3, X-Box 360 and PC didn’t really have much to really hold over the users of other consoles as a really palpable advantage or disadvantage. With the unveiling of the XB1, however, the dynamic is drastically changed: consumers are now seeing very clear, avoidable disadvantages when deciding how to use their dollar. The console has very disadvantegous features and policies that the gaming consumer can easily avoid. Microsoft is basically making a console that embodies the concept of the corporate entity over the consumer. It provides immense advantages for publishers and Microsoft itself in handling consumers directly and manipulating their purchasing power. But in doing so, they have also given consumers immense power in refuting these companies’ policies.
This holiday season has the possibility of going down in history as a benchmark win for the consumer against corporate abuse, and the way to achieve this victory is simple: DO NOT BUY THE X-BOX ONE. Buy a PS4, a PC, even a Wii-U, but not a XB1. Even if you’re a diehard fan of Microsoft’s franchises, don’t do it. Most of the games that’ll come out for the XB1 will be available on the other consoles, so there’s seriously no excuse. Publishers that made games for the XB1 will see that the same game sells MASSIVELY better on the other consoles and be forced to cater to the consumers of those consoles. This means that they cannot impose on them the same policies that MS is allowing them to enact without control on the XB1. This sends a clear message: we, the consumers, are the ones in control, not you. We can now have games on OUR terms. You may own the rights to any game you make, but we’re the ones who BUY it. You will NOT make profit without us, and any measure you take to squeeze money from us without giving us benefit in return will not be allowed.
Brothers and sisters, the ball is in our court, and we must stand strong. We must not allow ourselves to be fooled and tempted. Even if Microsoft offers us the world, we must not budge. Even if they actually pull back and eliminate every gripe we have about the XB1, we must still not support it to give Microsoft and the companies that supported them the clear message that even IMPLYING that we’d have to go through such ridiculously anti-consumer policies is something we will not forgive nor forget. We are the ones who keep the industry alive, both with our dollar and with our ranks who join the creators and are the future of the industry. If we play our cards right, we will make history. Financial textbooks on college courses around the world will use the XB1 as a case study of the consumer triumphant over the corporate entity. Let me say it nice and explicit to make it sink in: DO NOT FUCK THIS UP. DO NOT BE A DRONE. DO NOT LET THEM WIN.