By YukoAsho 2 Comments
Well, it's not every day that I wake up to a bomb exploding in my face.
Well, let's talk about the Kinect.
So now the 180 is complete. Effective June 9th, a $399 version of the Xbone will be available without the Kinect. Also on June 9th, the requirement to have Xbox Gold to use apps like Netflix and Youtube will be dropped, but that's small potatoes. Come June, the price advantage Sony enjoyed will be gone.
However, so too will anything making the Xbox One anything more than a weaker version of the PS4.
Mind you, this isn't a death knell for the 360. The PSOne and PS2 weren't the strongest of their generations, nor was the 360.
However, those systems had a sheer deluge of quality games to make up for it. Particularly pre-2010, the Xbox 360 was the console to get games on. It had an amazing variety of titles, and the multi-platform games performed better there. Somewhere along the way, however, Microsoft started resting on their laurels. They culled off most of their 1st party development talent, leaving only Turn 10 and 343 Industries left. They leaned harder and harder on non-gaming audiences and left gamers in the dust. As performance parity was established between the PS3 and the 360, Sony leaned heavily on their first-and-second party studios, with hits like Uncharted, Killzone and The Last of Us. Sony once again established the PlayStation 3 as a console for gamers, while MS was re-branding the 360 as the all-in-one entertainment device for which gaming was a secondary consideration.
Indeed, 2010 marked the year where Microsoft was struck by the same hubris that had captured Sony in 2006 and hasn't let go of Nintendo since 1996. Much like with the PS3 and the N64, the Xbox One was ruined by the company behind it simply taking consumers for granted. MS didn't think it needed to serve us, because they believed we were in their pocket. One need only look at the Xbox One reveal 11 months ago.
We clearly didn't matter. And we continued not to matter until the PS4 was effectively positioned, both at its reveal and at E3, as the culmination of a generation's worth of soul-searching and much-needed restructuring at Sony. While Sony was wooing and wowing the people they'd turned away with the PS3 and rebuilding the tarnished image of the PlayStation brand, Microsoft was busy having its own version of Sony's embarrassing E3 2006 press conference.
Now, to Microsoft's credit, they've been rapid about changing many of the worst issues. The DRM that people raged against was removed, along with the region locking, while the system went from having Kinect be plugged in at all times to having the Kinect be something you can keep in the box and never use again if you so choose.
However, Microsoft maintained for months that they would never remove the Kinect from the box. It, along with the ransoming of Youtube behind the Gold paywall, were the last straw. If they bent on these, they would be broken.
Well, now they have bent on the very last issue. And now, they have to prove that they haven't broken. And it comes down to one thing.
Now let's be clear; Sony will always have the more powerful system. Sony's will always be the system that is easier to develop for. When a third party game comes out that really taxes the two systems, the PlayStation 4 version will run better. However, Microsoft can help close the gap by improving the development tools for the system, and continuing to optimize the firmware to tap whatever else was reserved for Kinect and the cloud nonsense. It falls on MS to bend over backward to support 3rd parties in the development/porting process.
They need to move beyond just "bro shooters." The Xbox 360, especially post-2010, wasn't really worth owning if you weren't much of a modern military shooter fan or a huge Call of Duty online player. The system needs platformers, action-adventure, RPGs, sims, fighting games, everything that makes a diverse library, and they need them in abundance. And since Japan has almost completely returned to ignoring Microsoft, limiting the parity between the two systems' library, well, that leads to the next point.
Microsoft desperately, desperately need to re-establish a robust lineup of first-party studios. Put bluntly, 343, Turn 10 and whatever studio ends up being stuck with Gears is not enough. They need multiple developers to establish a strong exclusive lineup, a bunch of games that cannot be found on the PS4, and thus not be included in the debate about which version has a better frame rate or which version has better textures or what the hell have you. Microsoft needs exclusives, and they need those exclusives to be permanent, so they need to make them in-house, and for that, they need to build up a stable of first-party studios that exceeds that of Sony and Nintendo, and they need to do it yesterday.
Microsoft has done an amazing job fixing the problems that plagued the Kinect. As was pointed out on the new Bombin' the AM, Microsoft has shown an agility up until now that should be praised. Sony took years to course-correct the PS3.
However, up until now, all of Microsoft's moves were just reactions. The time for reaction is over. Now is the time to do something that doesn't merely follow Sony. Now is the time to make decisions that excite us on their own, lest Sony continue to jab them for being a me-too company. Now is the time to act.