Wednesday, June 19, 2013

XBox Done: They're still done...

More non-FFXI.

Well, Microsoft is backpedaling like a bad cornerback.

No more always-on requirements for XBox One.

Used game restrictions taken down.

So why are they still fucked?

Not only because they have the spying abilities of the new Kinect, but, now, they have to not only change the architecture around how the One is going to work, but also confront the reality that their entire economic model for the XBox One is now done, at least vis-a-vis games.

I fully expect, either after the One or during, that Microsoft will fully divorce from the gaming industry.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Non-FFXI: I thought I saw everything, until I saw Microsoft's arrogance this week...

On occasion, something happens which just goes so far beyond the pale that it just has to be brought to attention.

What Microsoft did at E3 this week, in releasing what is only-purportedly a gaming system later this year, most certainly qualifies.

In fact, I will go even further:

Not only do I believe that Microsoft has permanently killed the XBox brand with their arrogance and general fucked-up attitude on things, but that Microsoft (with almost certainly help from a lot of parties which people do not want to know about!) is attempting to kill the entire gaming industry in the United States and replace it with an entertainment console...  Excuse me, surveillance device... industry.

Moreover, any person who even puts one of these XBox Done s (not my name for it, but far too good to pass up) in their house not only deserves what they get, but they are too stupid to be part of any reasoned society in this day and age.


Let's take this step-by-step:


Microsoft gets the plum opening spot in a full day of release press conferences at E3.

The price point is $499, for starters.

This got me to start immediately calling it the "XBoxOnePercent", as Microsoft opted to completely disdain all the backlash Sony got at the start of the last generation.

Combined with the farcical release conference Microsoft did last month, I set off the following diatribe on Twitter:

"People really need to get together and call this what it is... is the . Priced for the 1%, for 1% of gamers. FU."

And wouldn't you know it, within THREE MINUTES, I get this stupidity:

" get a job! Do u own any new tech? An iPad? A computer? A cellphone? $500 is nothing for what it getting."

So, Brad. what am I getting for that money that you feel I need to have a job for?  (BTW, only the computer, no iPad, no cellphone even...

Two trailers started without sound, and a rape joke was thrown in for good measure...  Gee, almost sounds right at home with some of the male gamer types running around these days...

But it's what happened the next two days that should've really gotten antennae twitching:


Wired UK came out with a highly-disturbing situation from the patent application Microsoft filed for the XBox One Kinect (which is mandatory for the system at all times).

The application indicates that the Kinect actually will have the ability to monitor the number of people in the room and compel (as a condition of licensure and the ability to play the game/view other content) the owner to pay for an additional license fee based on the number of people viewing the content.

And it may well not stop there.  As Wired UK reports, the patent application says:

"delivering audiovisual entertainment has progressed from physical media to digital downloads...In delivering such media, content providers often seek compensation based on the number of times content can be presented on a particular system."

So, at it's end, what could happen, for just ONE example, is that you may only be allowed to play an XBox One game a certain number of times (or a certain length of time!) before you would be forced to pay an additional license fee.

In an extreme case, your next purchase of Madden for the XBox One could well be by the hour of playtime!

Then it starts getting really fun. as the Wired UK article continues:

"The limitation placed on the content might simply be a fixed number of users views, a number of user views over a certain time period, a number of simultaneous user views or views tide to user identities. This could even allow for age restriction -- i.e. if the Kinect recognises you as being under 18, it won't show 18 movies."

The only way it could feasibly do that is for the Kinect to be able to actually have full view of the living room involved, and that view might well be transmittable to a third party!

(By the way, one of the other bugaboos revealed this week by Microsoft is that the XBox One must be connected to the Internet for authentication purposes once every 24 hours, or the system is an effective brick -- NO content can be accessed.)

Especially with the Edward Snowden leaks (for which, frankly, he will be most-certainly executed without trial once finally cornered), this leads to a number of highly-frightening scenarios:

1) A number of parties have already come up with the "Microsoft is watching you masturbate."  Consider the ramifications for the likes of that in the Bible Belt.

2) One of my FFXI "agents in the field" found another meme poster which indicates that the only people who might even be allowed to access the content are people who only allow those who have license to the content.  In an extreme case, your brother walks into the room, and the game stops.  Since your brother does not have a license to the content, you now don't either, until he leaves.

3) If it can go that far, consider the possibilities that, since the XBox One must be allowed to access the Internet at some point every day (perhaps at all times, for certain applications), the possibility that Microsoft could contract with third parties for surveillance purposes (say police, NSA, Homeland Security, etc.).  I give it literally January 1, 2014 (unless someone does the smart thing and sue this abomination off the market once and for all before then!) before we find out that someone got arrested for something they did in the "privacy" of their own home (har har), or that the Kinect can recognize a fugitive from justice and catch them.

And I could come up with numerous others...


In the biggest Fuck You to it's customers, Microsoft executive Don Mattrick openly said that anyone who either does not elect to or cannot consistently access the Internet has no business on the XBox One and should, instead, remain in the previous inferior generation with the 360:

""Fortunately we have a product for people who aren't able to get some form of connectivity. It's called Xbox 360," he said."

Fuck you, Don Mattrick.  It's almost as if you are saying that those of us (including me) who would much rather play offline have no business in "YOUR WORLD" and will be eventually taken out of the equation...

And then we get to the summary of a lot of the limitations which XBox fanboys are going to have to subject themselves to for the XBox One:
  • Not only does the system require Internet connectivity once every 24 hours in all cases, that requirement, under certain conditions, can be as strict as once an hour!
  • Your system becomes a brick, in that no games can be played on it (nor, I would assume, any other content), if this limitation is not met.
  • No lending of games to a friend without that friend buying the (license to play the) game.  You still have to put it on his system's hard drive (all games must be loaded from disk to drive -- there is no play from disk on the XBox One), but if he wants to play it himself on his own profile, he must buy license for it.
  • Since all games are effectively loaded onto the XBox One similarly to PC gaming, used game discs become effectively worthless!  The only "used game trading" which would be allowed would be with Microsoft-authorized retail outlets, and no one knows what that process is going to entail.
  • Although Sony loses some points for requiring Playstation Plus for online play (you can almost expect some attempt at hacking Sony's servers not only for information, but to take down PS4 online play, at some point), Microsoft does something Sony does not:  To access Netflix, you must not only have a Netflix subscription, but an XBox Gold one as well.
To me, the only way this idiocy could ever see retail is if there is a grand master plan here.  (And one which would require a lot of help.)

Bluntly, let's get real here:  The end-game (probably coming with the XBox One) entails the following (and I fully expect these announced before release):
  • Any attempt to circumvent the ability of the Kinect to have full, unblocked access to the necessary information it is attempting to receive and transmit immediately ceases all content on the system.
  • Microsoft, at it's sole discretion, can terminate any system with a kill-code, and, since the XBox One must be connected at least once every 24 hours to work at all...
  • The Final Insult (and Microsoft has done this already with it's PC software -- Microsoft Office 2013 can only be used one-to-one -- one machine, one copy of Office 2013.  That machine dies?  So does that license of Office 2013):  You aren't buying the console or any games at all.  You are only buying the license to the console and to the games, which can be revoked by any legal or relevant party, without appeal, at any time.
In that last case, you're buying a $500-deposit cable box you will never see the money back on.