Thursday, May 23, 2013

Xbox One & What Do I Want?

So earlier this week, the Xbox One was announced.  There was a lot of hullabaloo about the lack of games, TV, sports, and dogs.


You can watch the hour-long reveal here:


Overall, I have some concerns, opinions, and rants I thought I'd share.


Independent Development

Immediately after the reveal, there were tons of speculation that Microsoft wasn't going to allow independent developers to self-publish their games to the console.  This had a lot of fallout from XBLIG developers it would seem; however, I have to admit I'm not surprised.  I'm not even that mad really.  Admittedly, it would be awesome if an XBLIG or even an XBLA service were to persist, but in my opinion, new things are coming out all the time to make independent development and publishing more accessible:  OUYA, Playstation Mobile Suite, Stream Greenlight, tons of PC Indie game avenues.  Though some of these services still need some work and their futures aren't clear, they exist and just because the Xbox One will allegedly support self-publishing doesn't mean it will be impossible.  I use "allegedly" because Microsoft's Larry Hyrb -- or Major Nelson -- already commented on this issue:



Also, XBLIG wasn't available on the Xbox 360 immediately, so I think it's too early to say the Xbox One will never support such a feature -- I won't hold my breath though.  This being said, I will probably be moving my future game development projects to other platforms:  PC, OUYA, maybe even Playstion Mobile.  Originally, XBLIG was the most attractive because it allowed me to publish a game on console, something with a controller -- not a keyboard, not a mouse, not a touchpad.  I tend to design games that work best with a controller (or fightstick).  That's the real reason I get so despondent when I hear that consoles are dying.


Games & Budget

A lot of people complained about the lack of games -- or game genres -- demonstrated.  If I were a big EA Sports fan, I'd probably be pretty excited; if I were a Call of Duty fan, I'd probably be ecstatic.  I'm neither of these, so I wasn't.  This was a reveal of the console though, so the lack of games didn't surprise me.  Games will be announced soon, and then I'll make a more sound judgement.
What concerned me more was Call of Duty -- not it's gameplay or the dog -- but it's budget.  I'm not an economist by any means and am making wild assumptions, but there's something about the seemingly extravagance of this and probably other Xbox One -- and probably PS4 games -- that worries me.  The combination of an Oscar-winning writer, canine motion capture, and tons of manpower worry me.  In reality, this game will probably sell amazingly well, but what if it doesn't?  Or what if a company makes a game with the same, sky high budget and fails?  It just seems like a precarious precedence to set for the future of an.  already unstable industry.  Will the average consumer even able to afford an Xbox One and the games to accompany it?  Probably, but I'm my pessimism causes me to be cautious nonetheless.

OMINOUS, DOWNWARD RED STOCK ARROW!

What Do I Want?

Overall, I wasn't exactly excited by the Xbox One reveal -- please excuse that excessive use of alliteration.  I  then  read an article criticizing the critical attitude of my gamers towards the reveal.  The article surmises that a media box that plays just games is an antiquated idea, no longer sustainable in the modern market.  More so, it made question as an small indie developer and a consumer, what do I really want in a next generation console.  I'm not quite sure though.  A part of me is happy with the current generation and questions if a new one is truly necessary -- I know people would tell me it's about time but their reasons why never seem to resonate, especially in a world where some gamers still clamor of Super Nintendo.  There are some hopes I have for this next generation of consoles.  I hope there are games I enjoy on it.  I hope that it does make some of my entertainment needs just as or more accessible -- adding NetFlix to Xbox 360 and PS3 for example was a godsend and I hate watching movies on a computer monitor.  I finally hope that there is some pathway for small independent developers to have even a glimmer of hope to publish to it.  These hopes sometimes make me want to just reconfigure my PC and television setup, that an upgraded PC would actually be sufficient.  At the end of the day though, I will probably own an Xbox One at some point but probably not at launch -- I made that mistake with the Xbox 360.  Will I enjoy it and be happy with that purchase?  Well that will most probably depend on the games.

I would totally buy an Xbox One if it looked like this.  It's PowerGlove levels of ridiculous