As The Xbox One Attracts More Controversy, More Importance is Placed On Titanfall


If you haven’t heard, Microsoft and the Xbox One found themselves in a bit of hot water recently, when some long rumored whispers that the Xbox One is under-performing against the PS4 when it comes to games they share were confirmed when “Battlefield 4” developers DICE revealed that the Xbox One runs at a lower resolution than the PS4, while side by side comparison gameplay videos gave us a pretty clear indication of the difference between the two machines. This was an unfortunate reveal only enhanced by the discovery that some of the footage in “Battlefield 4” Microsoft was using for promos of the Xbox One actually contains some footage of the PC version of the game.

This of course breaks up the relative peace Microsoft was enjoying following the  controversy that followed shortly after E3 and the initial Xbox One reveal, when people attacked Microsoft for many of its policies regarding the Xbox One, as well as its seeming focus on being a device more interested in multimedia capabilities than actual gaming. When Microsoft retracted a number of the more controversial measures, it had seemed they could kick back, maybe hype up the pre-order numbers for the device, as well as any number of its merits, and put that past trouble behind them. That is, until this all happened.

Now the Xbox One is again the goat of the video game world, fanboys begin to wage war, PR companies summon their voodoo spin doctors, and those of us somewhere in the middle find an enjoyment in the chaos. Of course, if you stick around gaming long enough, and you eventually learn to not throw dirt on anything until you absolutely are sure it’s dead, less it come back as a zombie to take its revenge. What I mean is, don’t write off something so adamantly if there is still the off chance that it’ll come back to bite you when you want it down the line.

This is where the Respawn Entertainment developed 2014 shooter “Titanfall” comes in. See, admist all of the trouble that the Xbox One endured recently, one interesting win for the company did emerge, when it was announced that “Titanfall” will be an Xbox One and PC exclusive forever. While that doesn’t mean that future sequels of the game will remain on the Xbox One only, it does still ensure that Microsoft has the immediate rights to the best looking exclusive seen on either system, and one of the few games shown of the next generation so far, that looks like a killer app.

While of course a final “Titanfall” game that falls well short of expectations would lend a different set of problems for Microsoft, the more interesting case comes if the game turns out to be as good as footage and previews have suggested, and as lucrative as well. In that case, then by the time that more systems start to hit the shelves and the non-early adopters start considering making system purchases early next year, “Tianfall” will be in a position to move Xbox Ones similar to the way that “Halo” moved the original Xbox.

What’s interesting about that is that it will be a pretty clear case that in spite of everything that the Xbox One has gone through, it’s all irrelevant compared to the power of a single game. The industry is moving further and further away from exclusive games, and many people in the gaming community are also calling for a more unified gaming experience where all games are available to everyone. However, it does still sell systems, and should it be able to alter the Xbox Ones fate (again, in spite of everything) when the console race gets going in earnest, then it could just be enough to preserve the traditional methods of gaming exclusives, at least for the conceivable future.

What’s really interesting about that is that Microsoft clearly had a plan at one point to take console gaming in a very different path based on the original policies of the Xbox One. Even without those policies, there is clearly still a focus on incorporating  the controversial multimedia features on a level not previously seen out of a console. If Microsoft really gets a hit then with “Titanfall,” do they begin to re-enact some of those policies now that they have a userbase who will remain loyal to them? Do they also see the power of games and begin to turn the public focus of the Xbox One to a game first console, or does the natural increase in multimedia use of its users who purchased the system for “Titanfall” somehow justify their seeming focus on that instead?

Nothing speaks louder than sales in the gaming world, and considering the rare beast that “Titanfall” has the potential to be (a AAA true exclusive of full merit) it’s release and subsequent fallout is one of some importance. It not only has the weight of the Xbox One at its shoulders at the moment, but given a certain level of success could well help answer several questions about what direction the industry is going. Is that a lot of weight to put on a single game? Yes, but that is exactly the role that Microsoft gave it when they pursued this as an exclusive. They have a faith in it that probably cost them a lot of money, but they spent it because they knew it had the potential to define the Xbox One and help to give the system the foothold it needs in the Western market where it’s main sales power is going to come from.

The next generation of gaming may start this month with the release of the PS4 and Xbox One, but it’s not until the major games start hitting next year will it begin in earnest. Of those games, none has more to strive for than “Titanfall,” whose success and quality may very well give us an indication of how the future of gaming will shape up, and if Microsoft will be a part of that future at all.


In Changing Their Strategy, Microsoft has Deprived Gamers of a Villain


After a backlash that will rank as one of the most powerful ever seen in the world of video games, Microsoft recently made the surprising decision to back down on some of their more controversial Xbox One policies.

Specifically the Xbox One will now no longer restrict the sale and use of used games, and game buying and sharing will work largely as it has this previous generation, including maintaining the classic game use archetype of just sticking a disc in the console. They’ve also dropped the unpopular measure that would ask you to “check in” online once every 24 hours, regardless of if you’re actually playing online or not.

Considering the set the world on fire kind of hatred these and other Xbox One policies drew, you’d think this announcement would be met with a shower of rose petals and a loud and proud declaration from the Microsoft faithful, and gamers everywhere, that the console war is on once more.

Instead the reaction is more…interesting.

See it turns out that very vocal gaming group who spoke so adamantly against the Xbox One’s features, are now many of the same gamers who are taking to message boards on sites around the web, and are complaining about Microsoft’s lack of conviction, or how this still changes nothing for the more expensive console. The most interesting argument though, best vocalized by Gizmodo, comes from the once silent minority that now loudly argue that some of the same policies Microsoft was villainized for, were actually potentially great ideas.

To understand this sudden turnaround of emotion, you have to take into account the pride gamers have.

See, people don’t brag about what brand of microwave they own, nor does the maker of your Blu-Ray player incite many flame wars. But who makes your video game console? That does matter to people. People attach themselves to a system and react personally to any successes, or failures, endured along the way. The most vocal of which are described as fanboys, but really every gamer takes some sort of stance on the console they chose.

It’s a timeless tradition that may be occasionally entertaining, but is also very tiring. The fact is that if the average consumer could afford to buy all video game consoles, they would. That they can’t is a big reason that pride exists in the way it does.

The Xbox One changed things though. It gave people a villain. A black hated system that the average gamer could point to and say “That’s the bad guy!” Gaming has not really had something like that on the level of the Xbox One, and there was a certain comfort people took in decreeing the PS4 the champion of the people.

Now, it doesn’t matter that Microsoft listened to the complaints and gave people what they seemingly wanted, because all they did was test people’s pride, and force them to react in ways that don’t make them back down from the once so clear views of the console battlefield that existed not long ago. A large number of people not only invested their money in backing the PS4 early, but that pride as well.

The thing is this though. Sometimes, determining the villain is a matter of perspective. If Microsoft had truly believed that their policies would win people over in the end, no amount of heat would have forced them to abandon their beliefs, and they would have (albeit slowly) reaped the rewards of putting out a system they could stand behind and fully support. They would have ceased to be the villain, and would have become the battle tested hero…the only thing people love more than a golden boy.

If  that wasn’t the case though, then make no mistake that Microsoft made the smart business decision to change their policies. However, if they hoped that they would be carried on the shoulders of the populace all the way to the throne in doing so, they have underestimated the pride of gamers. What’s worse is that very pride now forces those same gamers to question if a company that can make such major changes to their system based on knee jerk impressions, has any pride of their own.


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