In my lifetime, I’ve literally seen the entertainment industry pit itself against their own customers. Every time a monolithic corporation asserts its rights, it’s usually at the expense of the average guy.
I thought file sharing was the ultimate expression of this conflict. But then news hit today about the Microsoft X-Box One. The X-Box One was introduced in a manner so tone-deaf it’s hard for me to believe that it actually happened.
The X-Box One is not backwards compatible, which isn’t unprecedented. But Microsoft is using a cloud system to co-ordinate your entertainment, which means they have complete control of your content. I like to play used games, a lot of people do. But Microsoft is limiting who I can get games from. I can only loan someone else my game if they are on the Microsoft network, have been my friend for over 30 days and I can only do it once. And the reselling of games will be determined by third party publishers, and they are on the record as not liking the idea of used video game sales.
The X-Box One has to be connected to broadband Internet. 75 percent of the population has broadband penetration, but penetration doesn’t mean that it’s strong enough to support high definition outlets – like video games. In one fell sweep, Microsoft whittled down its potential audience, before it had moved a unit.
What happens if it doesn’t connect to the Internet? It won’t play games. The X-Box One has to connect to the Internet once a day to make sure your systems and games are verified and that the games you bought haven’t been sold, traded or given away. Because apparently preemptively treating your customers like pirates is good business.
And no one thought about what sorts of things interrupt your Internet. Like tornados, or floods, or earthquakes. Or just plain sucky Internet.
Also the Kinect has the ability to recognize your face. And your heartbeat. And store it if you don’t opt out. And if you do opt out, they will withhold some gameplay stuff, because a giant faceless corporation needs to know about your heart murmur. In fact they’ll be storing every piece of data about you.
All this to follow up a console that had, at best a 23% failure rate. That’s right, one out of every four or five Xbox 360s DIED because of a motherboard/solder problem that took five years to fix. The X-Box One is a sequel to that troubled console. Its basically the Soul Plane 2 of the video game world.
I don’t understand why entertainment companies think that they operate in a vacuum. Their direct competitors at Sony are releasing a PS4 at the same time. Right now the Sony offices are probably celebrating like the old Drew Carey show intro.
And this is not an isolated incident. For instance, cable refuses to unbundle their channels so that subscribers can pick what they actually want, apparently unaware that people can just download shows off of the Internet. When it comes to entertainment, Jeff Goldblum said it best-