Saturday, November 9, 2013

In Which I Resume the Status Quo

My last post about the XBone was fairly positive, but that's mostly because I made sure that it would remain that way throughout because that was the point of the post.  This post is under no such obligation.  This post is another in the line of many "Goddamnit, Microsoft" posts that exist because they should, because Microsoft has clearly learned nothing. I wish this weren't the case because I know that I'm personally tired of rehashing the same points over and over again, but it's kind of appropriate to do so since I'm not the one who is doing it first.  I am in the responsive position here, not the instigative position.  If it weren't such a critical issue, I would have more or less given up on it by now, but it is certainly -not- that.  It's a big deal, bigger than we like to admit, and that it's barely getting addressed is the real issue.

In a recent interview, Albert Penello, Microsoft Senior Director of Product Management, prefaced a statement with "I always have to be really careful what I say here," and then proceeded to do no such thing, much to my amusement and frustration.  Protip:  If you ever say, "I do feel like we never got a chance to have a rational conversation about what we were trying to do," then you should probably understand that you're being very, very condescending, since it basically infers that your side was correct, but the other side was simply so rabid and/or unintelligent to understand your rationale that you just dropped it entirely.  As we know that is entirely -not- what happened, and the insistence, however passive-aggressive, that it was is just irresponsible.  I'll get to that in a minute, however.  More importantly is this little tid-bit, likening the XBone announcement (which he refers to as "the Dark Days", another good sign) to the original Duke controller.
"I always tell this story about how we did so much user testing on that thing, about how comfortable it was. Every piece of data we had said that was the best controller ever made. And then we showed it to customers and they're like, 'Oh my god, this thing's huge! It's gotta be uncomfortable!'

And you're like, 'Okay, we're done.' Because I'm not gonna be able to tell you about all the work we did, and all the data I had, and, oh by the way, when you feel it, it is really comfortable. Sometimes the customer just says 'No.' I look at it this way: I'm done; I've made up my mind. And we go, well, we've gotta fix it. It's not worth it. And that's where I think we were on the digital stuff. We'll get back to some of the cool stuff, and we have a lot of the cool stuff still in there."
Do take note that unless he's talking about -another- Duke controller that was much larger than the one that we got, it doesn't spell out a whole lot of anything for this story.  Since the Duke was famously large and, despite Penello's assertions, uncomfortable, which is why the second controller was made during the OXBox's lifetime that was much smaller and the prototype for what the 360 got.  So what I'm getting at here is that this is a really bad story to tell, especially in relation to this topic.  Which makes the fact that he stated earlier on,
"The thing I want to be super explicit about, because I do think people are worried about, is once we made the decision to go to physical disc security, we're not unwinding that decision. We're committed to the physical disc; we're committed to trading and loaning. This is my official: 'We're not going back on that.' I don't want anybody to think we 'got' them, and then tomorrow I'm gonna go back to the old stuff, 'cause that's not gonna happen."
...needlessly suspicious!  Speaking, sir!  You are bad at it.  Note the same smarmy condescending tone to this little anecdote as well, further reinforcing...well, what I've said. 

But that's not the worst of it.  Not by a -long- shot.  The worst comes right at the end, and it's the part that just absolutely makes my blood boil because it is precisely the wrong thing to say ever.
Regardless, Penello admitted that, in the end, it was the right decision. He still believes the all-digital future is coming. "We just think that's the way the future's gonna go," he said. "We may have been right. What we were wrong about was that it's just too soon. People just weren't ready to make that leap right away."
This.  This thing that you're doing right here?  Stop doing it.

You don't get to proclaim that the thing you're doing is ahead of its time.  Things are only declared to be ahead of their time after history has played out and you go "Hmm, I wonder why this thing is happening" and then you find out the progenitor of it.  In this case, the Dreamcast is the thing that was ahead of its time since it was wacky enough to try and introduce internet-based multi-player gameplay, even though internet as a whole was not even a standard, much less good.  Microsoft took this concept and added their own...'improvements', which, combined with the Dreamcast's following despite the lack of real purchasing power behind that, prompted the others to follow suit.  That is why we have online multi-player and such in our consoles, rather than it simply being a PC thing, though it could be argued that it, too, was an 'inevitability'.

All of what that translates into for me personally is "See you again for Round 2", which almost makes me weary just thinking about it.  This time around was hard enough, but we managed to put up a brick wall of common fucking sense.  I believe that's due in no small part to the fact that digital purchases are still on shaky grounds with Consoles, especially with the shift between this gen and next and the almost-lack of connectivity in-between.  We'll not have that cushion when the XTwo and the PS5 are announced since they'll likely retain a PC-like architecture meaning there should be no trouble making them backwards compatible with the XBone and PS4.  Since the entire library of games will be digital at that point (minus the few that get de-listed for licensing issues and such), it might not cause much of a kerfuffle there.  On top of that is the theory that the internet -is- getting -slightly- better in an average sense, but not an 'everywhere' sense, and I'm just seeing a lot more people becoming accepting of the idea of something like the XBone was originally set to be.  The bad parts of it.

Call me cynical, but the short-sightedness of it is what makes me believe it's possible.  That there were even defenders of the XBone this time around, with the majority of them being people crowing from the rooftops, "Fuck you, got mines" is more than enough to crush the spirit a little bit.  The issue is that it's just not something that should be done, because it's not something that can be done.  Internet Infrastructure is not a world-wide standard.  Internet Service Providers are considered, as a general statement, to be among the worst companies out there (up there with Gas Companies, Insurance Companies and EA for some reason) and there is a reason for that.  They are providing a service that is infinitely invaluable because of short-sightedness and by that virtue, they have free reign on what they can and can't do, with the latter being 'not a whole lot'.  What's going to change that?  I ask that as a real, actual, legitimate question.  It's not rhetorical, I'm not going to say "Nobody, that's who" because I don't know that.  But I also do not know -who- is going to make the ISPs start behaving like the less-evil multi-million dollar corporations out there.  And somebody has to do it if we're all gung-ho for this stupid notion of an "Always Online" future.

I'm still just shaking my head at the condescending vibe that oozes from every single word said, goddamn

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