Listening to your customers–what a concept!

Reacting To:  Microsoft reverses Xbox One online check and used games policies following backlash

Thank you, Microsoft, for actually listening to your customers.  After so many of them complained about your draconian online policy, they finally saw the light and realized they need to rethink their decision.  Microsoft could have easily kept their arrogance, telling their customers to just deal with the decision.  They didn’t make it in a vacuum – there were definitely new features and benefits this policy would introduce (like their family-sharing feature, full hard drive installations of the games), but the price was too much for many (including soldiers stationed in areas without pervasive internet).

Some companies – like Apple – can get away with the “just deal with it” attitude, but not Microsoft, not when Sony is looking to eat your lunch with a console going in a different direction.  I’m glad they were smart enough to realize this before it’s too late.

Now if only someone at the NFL would take a lesson in this and reconsider their stupid bag policy.  Come on NFL, Microsoft demonstrated that no company is beyond reproach, just come to your senses and follow suit.  There difference here, unfortunately is that the NFL doesn’t feel the pressure of competitors.  They can be as arrogant as they want. Just remember NFL, the MLB had the same level of arrogance about their sport, and gave up their superiority in the process.

I’m not buying an Xbox One

The Verge (which is now my favorite tech news site) has some excellent write-ups for all of the video came console news that happened yesterday between the Playstation 4 and the X-box One:

Xbox at E3 2013: everything you need to know

Sony PlayStation 4 at E3 2013: everything you need to know


I love my Xbox 360, so much so that I actually justified having two of them at the same time – largely due to the Media Center functionality. I’ve gone to great lengths to digitize our movie collection and offering them through the Media Center Extender My Movies plug-in.  I (begrudgingly) pay for an Xbox Live account to unlock features like Netflix, ESPN and my Xfinity content – content for which I feel I’m paying double for one thing.  I’m not a huge gamer, but over the 7 years I’ve owned an Xbox I’ve accumulated nearly 2 dozen games (1/3 of them being that year’s version of Madden). In all the hours the Xbox is on, I’m only playing games less than 25% of the time.

Given my love for streaming media through my Xbox, I was eagerly anticipating the reveal of the next-gen console. After digesting the reveal from a few weeks ago, combined with the data we learned in yesterday’s E3 announcements, I find myself more drawn to the PS4 rather than the Xbox One, boiling down to a few, key reasons:

          • Xbox One is going to require internet connectivity to authenticate the games.  I know we live in a connected world, but the Xbox is a device that I use for relaxation/recreation.  That doesn’t help when I want to take it up to the mountain cabin where 1x internet is spotty at best, or when I want to take my Xbox when I travel to blow off steam in the hotels. Internet is pervasive,  but unless the Xbox can navigate one of those quirky hotel WiFi interfaces, you’re hosed.  I realize Microsoft wants to appease the game manufactures (especially since they get a cut from game licensing), but this has been done at the expense of their customers.
          • XBox 360 games won’t be able to be played on the Xbox One.  Given that I have nearly 2 dozen games, I’m going to have to leave/put another box below the TV. In an era where I’m looking to consolidate devices, this is the last thing I want.
          • Xbox One wants to give you the full TV experience, but the best it can do is supplement your cable box, not replace it. So again it’s not helping me consolidate the number of boxes under my TV, and to make matters worse it’s going to use the crappy IR Blaster hack to navigate the cable box. The Blaster experience is barely tolerable on the Slingbox, but is absolutely unacceptable when I’m sitting in the same room.
          • They’re charging you $500!

          Over the years I’ve detested Playstation 3 for various reasons, but yesterday they made a very compelling case to reconsider them. They have a response for pretty much every problem I have with the Xbox for $100 cheaper. Even if the PS4 doesn’t deliver the streaming experience I want (and there’s no indication it doesn’t), I could get a Roku and PS4 and still save money. Given that Xbox is already saying “screw your old games” with the One, I might as well go out and get the cheaper next-gen box.

          So thanks for the memories, Microsoft. It’s been fun – but I think you’re learning the hard way that in the effort of being everything to everyone, you’re everything to no one.

          EA’s Brass Stones

          I was playing Madden on my X-box the other day (but let’s face it, that’s all I ever do with my X-box from August to Christmas), when after choosing my play I saw the following on my pre-snap screen.


          Wow EA, talk about ballsy.  Is it not enough that Madden is the most popular sports franchise of all time, and that suckers like me continue to shell out $60 each season for the equivalence of roster updates?  Now you’ve resorted to showing me ads on the game that I paid for that obstruct the game experience?  Thanks jerks!

          Look, I’m fine with you inserting ads into the game where it’s realistically done so.  I’ve come to accept the “Sprint Recap”, and the “Snickers Chompion Coin Toss” for two reasons: 1) It doesn’t interfere with my actual game play; 2) Because this is done during regular NFL games and is a sad reflection of the level of sponsorship in the NFL.  The league is pretty bad when it comes to in-game ads, but I don’t see ads streaming across the jumbotron before the QB is going to snap the ball.

          Seriously EA?  I understand you’re not a charity, but there has to be better ways to get revenue than this.  Quit killing your golden goose, or before you know it it’ll stop laying eggs.

          Random gaming goodness, Romey’s consoles

          After posting about my Vista upgrade experience, it seems fitting to share some thoughts on the catalyst of the Vista upgrade: the Xbox 360.  I got myself a little Christmas present this year, finally breaking down and buying the Xbox, bringing my gaming system count up to 3 consoles: the Playstation 2, the Wii and now the Xbox 360.

          This must be prefaced with the fact that I’m not a big-time gamer.  My time spent gaming tends to come in waves, where I may kill a whole weekend playing games, then won’t touch any games for weeks at a time.  This is regardless of any of the gaming systems, although I have to say that the novelty of the Xbox 360 hasn’t worn out and I’ve been playing it for about an hour each evening since I brought it home.

          While owning three consoles does seem a bit excessive, each one basically serves it’s own purpose:

          Nintendo Wii:  This is definitely the most popular console for my friends and family, basically because it transcended the gaming experience for them.  My sisters and Bethany, who never have historically been big fans of video games, love playing games on the Wii.   I think this is because the gaming experience on the Wii is so different, that it eliminates the old stereotypes that are brought by video games (all you do is mash buttons, the games are so boring, etc…).  The Wii also travels well, and has taken various trips to many parties, family & friend’s and even on my trips to New York (and now Atlanta).  However given the Wii’s short supply, I pray each time I disconnect it from my living room TV and put it in the bag. Favorite Games: Super Mario Galaxy (INCREDIBLE!), Mario Party 8 and Wii Sports.

          Xbox 360: Has definitely found it’s niche in my home: as my solo & online gaming system.  While new, I don’t foresee the Xbox ever drawing diverse interest from the same groups attracted to the Wii, and the games aren’t as entertaining for non-gamers to watch.  This is button-mashing, traditional game-playing.   Basically this is my gaming system that I’ll play by myself (or on-line).  However, the hand-down appeal that Xbox has is the graphics and HD experience.  I fell in love with the 360 HD experience the same way I fell in love with football in HD.  The Xbox won’t travel, mainly due to it’s size, but also partly to the fact that I don’t want to jinx my HD experience with a standard-def TV. I do have an Xbox Live Gold membership (user RomeyInFC) and I’ve really enjoyed the online experience.  Favorite Games: Madden 2008, Halo 3, Assassin’s Creed (granted I’ve only owned the Xbox for 2 weeks)

          Playstation 2: The only reason this console isn’t in a closet collecting dust is because of Guitar Hero.  When I bought Guitar Hero I did not have the Xbox yet, and there wasn’t a Wii version available, so I dusted off the PS2 solely for that reason.   I own about 15 PS2 games, and I’ve thought about bringing out Grand Theft Auto for old time’s sake, but PS2 is simply the “Guitar Hero machine”.  If I could I would trade away my PS2 with Guitar Hero 2 (and guitar) along with a few games for the Xbox Guitar Hero. Favorite Games: Guitar Hero 2, Grant Theft Auto (both Vice City and San Andreas)

          If I were forced to pick a gaming system, I would have to say that it’s the Wii, but let me play some more 360 for another month and see where things stack up.