Posts tagged #e3 2013

The Inner Dorkdom Podcast - Episode 11

Josh and Nic discuss their thoughts on E3 2013 until late into the night. Enjoy!

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Runtime: 2 hours, 33 minutes
Posted on July 1, 2013 .

Josh's Inner Dorkdom Journal - Episode 8 (E3 2013 Impressions)

Time for another episode of the journal. So what have I been digging on lately? To be honest, not much. Since I’m on a break from school, I’ve been working full-time and that’s kind of taken up the majority of my days. There are a few things, however, and I can use this format (as well as an episode of The Inner Dorkdom podcast that we’ll be recording soon) as a way to relay my thoughts on some of the recent E3 news.




I didn’t watch the E3 conference this year, but I read most of the articles ‘round the internet about it. From what I’m reading, Sony clearly “won” this time.
Just how did they win? By completely standing up for the consumer, as opposed to Microsoft which seems to be very “anti” that mentality.

(Note: After writing this article, I went back and watched the archived conferences. Unfortunately, my following opinions and concerns have not changed.)

Let’s give a little backstory:

Back in May, Microsoft revealed the Xbox One, their newest console. This comes as a little delayed from Sony’s earlier reveal of the Playstation 4. As I said in an earlier article, I wasn’t particularly impressed with Sony’s initial conference that showed the world their new console, but I thought it was just “ok.” That being said, myself and many other videogame fans were completely floored (and not in a good way) by the ridiculous restrictions which were being proposed by Microsoft.

Honestly, I don’t know what they were thinking. A console that has to be connected to the internet to function?

Get out of here.

To be fair, Microsoft later stated that the Xbox One would not have to be constantly connected to the internet, but WOULD have to be connected at least once every 24 hours. This, in my opinion, is still quite unacceptable. I live in a quasi-rural area, so my internet connection is neither fast, nor the most stable. Because of that, an Xbox One would be extremely problematic for me. For example: Nearly every time it rains, I lose my internet connection. So if the weather happens to be bad for a couple of days, I just wouldn’t be able to play… At all. Not even single-player games that shouldn’t have to connect to the internet in the first place would be playable for me if the weather was bad.
“Metal Gear Solid V? If it’s raining for a few days, forget about it.” That’s basically what Microsoft is telling me.
That’s just terrible design. There’s no reason that a game console should ever have to be connected to the internet, at any time, to function.

Back to this year’s E3:

None of gamers’ concerns were alleviated at Microsoft’s second showing. All the restrictions and requirements were still in place: Required internet connection, no used games (unless the developer permits it by offering codes for a flat-rate), a really big push (though subliminal) for Windows 8, and an “always on” version of their Kinect technology. All these things were still around and I (and every other gamer) was being told that they were all “good things” and that I just “didn’t know I wanted them yet.”

Not to get too political here, but that sounds a lot like our government and the ridiculous policies they’ve tried to push in recent years.

The Playstation 4, however, has absolutely none of these unwanted features. Even in their E3 presentation, they made it a point to directly fire shots at Microsoft by pointing this out to gamers. Every shot was met with thundering applause, or so I read.
If I were there, I would have been in the crowd applauding right along with everyone else.

It would seem that this “console war” might be won by the following 2 things: Features and exclusives. Unlike previous console generations, hardware capability has been taken completely out of the equation. This time around, both the Xbox One and Playstation 4 have nearly identical specs under their respective hoods, so most games will be the same aesthetically.  Since that’s the case, one has to look at the two console’s features first.

In both systems, the features are, just like the hardware, nearly identical. You have uploadable content like the new video sharing and social media integration. You also have real-time video streaming on both, with Sony using Ustream and Microsoft using Twitch. Then there are the normal features like Netflix, Hulu, HBO-Go, Amazon, web browsing, etc.  With all these features in mind, exclusives have to be more of a factor.

I’ll readily admit, the Xbox One has more, interesting looking, exclusive titles so far than the Playstation 4. D4, Dead Rising 3, Forza 5, Halo 5, Killer Instinct, Quantum Break, and Sunset Drive are all exclusive to Microsoft.

Killer Instinct is kind of an interesting one.

A sequel to a series that’s been dead since the late 90’s, KI has been something that fighting game enthusiasts have waited for a long time. When the new game was announced as an Xbox One exclusive, the fighting game community went absolutely nuts. I saw several forum and Twitter posts saying that they were now sold on the new Microsoft console. Clearly this is an overreaction, since they seemed to forget about the crazy restrictions they had been complaining about only a few hours before the game’s announcement. Finally, the realizations of complicated tournament play (needing to have the console bought and downloaded for every console at every station at the tournament venue and a constant internet connection) began to rear their ugly heads and doubt began to set in. This doubt became even more substantiated when it was announced that Killer Instinct would be a “day-one download” title which would be “free-to-play.” Only one character (Jago) would be available until the player bought the rest of the characters. When gamers went into an uproar, Microsoft and the game’s developers quickly changed their rather poor wording, saying that KI would basically be a “demo” on day-one and the player would buy the full version of the game if they wanted to at a later time.

Why not just call it a “demo” in the first place? Come on, Microsoft. Get yourselves together.

The Playstation 4 doesn’t boast the larger number of exclusives that the Xbox One does. Drive Club, The Order: 1886, Gran Turismo 6, Infamous: Second Son, and Killzone 4, were the only ones that I could find. So does this mean that Sony’s in trouble? I say no. As I told a friend of mine, there’s only ONE company that can sustain a console on its exclusives, and that’s Nintendo, but that’s because their exclusives are mostly first-party titles that have been around since 1984. On the Xbox One, the only two exclusives that are “blockbuster” titles are Forza and Halo. Dead Rising 3 will be a good seller, as will the 2 new IP’s, Quantum Break and Sunset Drive, but these exclusives won’t be the “system sellers” that a game like Final Fantasy VII was for the original Playstation back in 1997.
Is Halo a system seller? In a sense, yes, but the people who are fans of that game were fans back on the original Xbox with Halo and Halo 2. These fans carried over into the 360 era, but very few jumped on board with Halo 3 or 4. I’m not trying to discount the power of the Halo franchise, I’m just trying to point out that like many exclusives, save for Nintendo’s, Halo is a niche title. The same can be said about Uncharted or God of War for the Playstation. It would be much different if something with the general power of a franchise like Final Fantasy, a third-party franchise, were going exclusive to either Playstation 4 or Xbox One, since that series carries much more clout than games that have ALWAYS been exclusive to one platform or the other.

So maybe exclusives WON’T win the war. Then what will?

If it weren’t for Microsoft’s crazy new policies, I would say that the race would be pretty neck-and-neck. Before hearing about the Xbox’s new, weird way of doing things, that’s exactly how I figured it would be. The simple fact is, gamers and everyday people generally don’t like to be told what to do when attempting to enjoy themselves while playing a videogame. This much is abundantly clear given the recent backlash to the Xbox One.

Perhaps the largest critical backlash from both the gaming press and gamers themselves came shortly after the Xbox presentation at E3. Don Mattrick, President of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, was interviewed by GameTrailers.com and asked about some of the backlash towards the new console, particularly the constant internet connectivity issue. He was quoted as saying, “Fortunately, we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity; it’s called Xbox 360.”
This quote and arrogant, yet not surprising, attitude from a big-wig at Microsoft sent gamers into a frenzy. People that had recently supported the Xbox One 100% decided to drop their preorders and go the way of the Playstation. They were basically being told that if you couldn’t connect to the internet, you would be stuck with an outdated console which would probably lose support within the next 3 years and that Microsoft wasn’t going to back down from their outrageous requirements for the Xbox One. I, like all those angered gamers, thought that this was terrible marketing and customer relations. Again, it’s not surprising coming from Microsoft, as they’ve had this kind of mentality since they entered the world in 1975. World domination has always been their top priority, but it’s finally catching up to them.

With all that being said, I don’t mean to skip over Nintendo, but the simple fact is that they didn’t really have that much to show. What they did show was awesome, but nothing uber-exciting, or anything we didn’t already know was coming. I honestly think that it’s become the case that Nintendo is just… well…A NINTENDO company. I really don’t think they’re that interested in grabbing gamers of all types, and more focused on making consoles that play Nintendo-franchise games. Really, I’m fine with this. It’s not the greatest marketing attitude to have, but let’s be serious here: Nintendo franchises are powerful. The people who want those games are going to buy whatever console Nintendo builds in order to play them. If that’s what Nintendo is content in doing, then more power to them.  Personally, I would rather see Nintendo embrace all of gaming and build a console which would compete with the likes of Sony and Microsoft, but (to use a cliché that I hardly ever use) it is what it is. I own a Wii U and I’m excited for Super Mario 3D World and the new Legend of Zelda game that’s in the works. Plus, the 3DS is the greatest handheld every created (and currently has some of the best games on any device), so I can’t really complain. I’ve got my Wii U to play Nintendo stuff and I’ll have a PS4 and PC to play everything else.

*Post-E3 and Aftermath Edit*

As mentioned in the note above, I’ve since watched both Sony and Microsoft’s respective E3 presentations. Pretty much everything I read was accurate and was portrayed just as well in a written form as it was while watching the events unfold visually. In other words, my opinions remain the same. Microsoft chose to stay away from such topics as being connected online and outrageous DRM policies. Instead, they decided to infer to gamers that their system was “so good” that these things wouldn’t / shouldn’t matter. However, according to gamers, these things DO matter. 

Since the presentations ended, fans and the independent gaming press have shown their absolute disdain for Microsoft’s poor choices. I point specifically to internet gaming personality, Angry Joe and his recent interview with “Major Nelson” (Larry Hyrb), Microsoft’s Director of Programming for Xbox Live, as a prime example.
In the interview, Joe asks Hyrb some very difficult questions from his fans which put the Microsoft rep into a clearly uncomfortable and quite defensive position. The questions are simple and to-the-point and deal with gamers’ various concerns, such as the required online and DRM.

Joe tries extremely hard (until he’s discouraged by the Microsoft PR lady standing off-camera to move along) to not let Hyrb slide with his dodgy answers, but ultimately has to cut the interview short. This is due in part to the fact that Hyrb is about to partake in a “live event” on the showroom floor and, from what the rest of Joe’s video suggests, the angry PR lady who dislikes his questions.

Joe never comes off as antagonistic or that he’s looking for a debate, but instead as a concerned gamer. The fact that “Major Nelson” didn’t really want to answer his questions and the PR lady didn’t want them asked in the first place, seems like a confirmation of the attitude Microsoft seems to have at this point: “This is the future. Either get with it, or keep playing your Xbox 360 which will probably lose support roughly 3 years into the new generation of consoles. Even though all you gamers out there say you don’t want this stuff, we know what’s best for you.”

My response:
Sorry, Microsoft, I’LL decide what’s best for me. I don’t need you to tell me what I want. Also, stop dodging questions. You know everyone is angry with you over the decisions you’ve made, make moves to correct it instead of trying to shove it down people’s throats.

While playing Injustice online recently (on Xbox 360, mind you), I was talking with a friend of mine, an avid Xbox supporter, about these concerns. As we were talking, I noticed that every time I talk about these things, I may come off as though I’m a “Microsoft hater.” Nothing could be further from the truth. I happen to not like a lot of their business decisions (something which I’ve felt for almost 20 years), but I don’t like to see anyone “fail.” Truthfully, all of my concerns about the Xbox One boil down to one HUGE concern that I think is shared by 90% of gamers, but they don’t know how to voice it without sounding like raging “fanboys:” We don’t want these things to become console standards.

If Microsoft continues to be the same dominant force in the console market as they were with the Xbox 360, then it’s a given that the generation of consoles post-Xbox One and PS4 will be forced to adopt the same policies. The reason there is a severe outcry right now is because we’re all trying to voice the same thing: We don’t want this. From anyone. Ever.

That about wraps it up for this episode of Josh’s Inner Dorkdom Journal. Sorry that it was such a long read, but hopefully you’ll get something useful out of it and take these things into consideration before you purchase your next gaming console later this year. Hopefully, I’ll be back soon with a review of the game I’m currently playing: Naughty Dog’s, The Last of Us!

Trying to be an optimist in an overcrowded and slowly dying videogame world, I am,

-Josh