When the Xbox One was unveiled last week, PC gamers and PlayStation fanboys double clicked on their favorite web browser and launched a passive-aggressive campaign against Microsoft. The weird part, at least for me, is that Microsoft’s newest innovation is exactly what I expected. So I can’t figure out what people are complaining about.
When the Xbox 360 hit the market in 2005, the console only had minimal functionality as a multimedia device. It could play DVDs and stream some types of videos, but you had to purchase an external device if you wanted to play HD DVDs, a format that was officially dissolved in 2008, and Blu-rays were never an option.
But as the console matured, Microsoft began migrating it toward the middle of your home entertainment center. They added a ton of native video codecs, integration with Windows Media Center, and pushed streaming services like Netflix. And even though the PS3 can perform many of these functions, they’re much less important to Sony’s philosophy.
So, when Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One, its features made perfect sense. The unit isn’t simply a gaming machine, it’s a multi-media device, and this is probably a good thing, but hardcore gamers don’t seem to care.
You need to understand something: No publisher can afford to market solely to the hardcore audience. Hardcore gamers make up a painfully small portion of the overall market, so when a new console comes out, and it has viability in a larger market, you should be thankful. Because this means that the console won’t disappear into oblivion like the Dreamcast.
Casual gamers make up the vast majority of the market, and most of those spend more time watching TV than actually gaming. So, Microsoft’s decision makes perfect sense.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not defending Microsoft. If they actually end up implementing their always-on requirement, the draconian DRMs, and used game restrictions, the system deserves to fail. But it probably won’t. Once Call of Duty: Ghosts hits the market, everyone will forget about their complaints, turn off Netflix, and log on to Xbox LIVE.
Either way, try to remember that hardware and software developers need the support of casual gamers if they want to keep their heads above water. And if that bothers you, spend more money.