Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fuck's Sake, Microsoft, Stop Double-Talking

So, at this point, do we really know anything that the XBone is going to do other than have a controller, Kinect and play Ryse, Forza and some sports games?  The answer is "No, not really" because just about every damn thing that's been said about the console has either then been taken back or generally muddied up with otherwise conflicting information from sources within Microsoft itself.  The used game thing, the always-online thing, the required Kinect thing, they've all been contradicted in some way or manner and it's all just sending out this awful clusterfuck of a message that is more damaging than any single one of those, on base value, would be.  It's almost like, at this point it's not even a perception, but a reality, that Microsoft just doesn't know what the fuck when it comes to the XBone and that is worrying on just about every single level one could imagine.

The latest thing to add to the pile that is actually a pile, jesus, is the whole Indie's Self-Publishing issue.  Time was, that you could Self-Publish your title through XBox Live Indie Games which was, of course, the red-headed step-child of the Arcade for the last few years and is being phased out for the new 'unified' XBLA Games section that will just be "Games".  So, it's no surprise that they word was that you won't be able to self-publish on the XBone.  I mean, yes, he muddied it up with a lot of "but we're exploring other avenues" and this and that, but the core statement was that going the way of XBLIG is no longer an option which is a big deal since that's actually the way On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 is making it to the 360.  Sure, it's a niche game, but it's probably the last big Indie game that will hit the platform, and could've been used as a spring-board to tout your Indie Channel if you were Microsoft.

So of course, now the statement is "Woah, hey, wait, we're actually totally going to have a program and tools and shit".  Or, more....'eloquently':
“We’re going to have an independent creator program,” Mattrick said. “We’re going to sponsor it. We’re going to give people tools. We’re going to give more information.”
And that's it, more or less.  There's some more fluff in the Kotaku post that Siliconera sourced, but it's basically "Indies are really cool, of course we're going to support them".  Which, at this point, I can only envision 'support' as 'gouge harder than current XBLA titles' because good goddamn, I cannot -not- see it that way.  Really, the way it's been this generation is that if you really want Microsoft's boon of support, you have to keep your title exclusive to XBLA for a year at the very least.  Which isn't too bad, admittedly, but there are all sorts of rules and regulations that we don't know the full extent of that -really- pushed devs away and towards PC and, eventually, PSN.  So if the alternative to 'no self-publishing' is entering one of these potentially pitfall-laden deals with Microsoft through a more incorporated version of XBLIG that kind of misses the point...well, I'm not sure how that's a net positive on the whole thing.

Really, though, that's the problem.  There's absolutely nothing stating that this program, these tools or anything are going to be inherently different than XBLIG, which was basically regarded as "okay" even if the bulk of the titles were Minecraft rip-offs or horribly offensive things.  Or Avatar games.  But with how everything's been lately, it is -impossible- to be objective when hearing yet another piece of conflicting or otherwise negative piece of news about the Xbone.  It's a vicious cycle of negative begetting negative begetting negative and to stand in the center, to try and counter it, is folly.  You're not going to be taken seriously, you're not going to get your point across, it will just not end well.  It's an impossibility at the moment and will likely remain that way until E3.  Perhaps thereafter, depending on their showing.

What Microsoft has done is made the XBone toxic at this point.  The people who actually want to talk about the good points of the system (it -does- have good points) get out-talked (rightfully) by the people who are positing about the inherently terrible aspects of the device, of which there are plenty which is far too many.  One is far too many.  So I'm sure you can see how 'plenty' is not doing it any favors.  Even with a strong E3 showing, saying "Oh, hey, this isn't true, this isn't true, I am 100% serious on this, here is proof" will just have the word be "Not as bad as we thought!" instead of the overwhelmingly positive reaction the console -could- have gotten had they not wobbled it so intensely on every conceivable level.  Of course, the worst thing to come from it could be "It's exactly as bad as we thought and the exclusive games are all Kinect shovelware".  So E3 will be highly interesting regardless.

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