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If the Rumors are True: 5 Reasons Why the Next Xbox Will Fail

The battle has begun. As developers begin to squeeze the dying pixels from a fading era of consoles, the inevitable cold war known as the next generation lingers on the horizon. Here, reputations are at stake, fan loyalties wax and wane, and precious consumer dollars dangle from the wallets of the undecided. Make no mistake: This is war.

As Nintendo's Wii-U sales continue to hobble, Sony has eased swiftly into its play for the throne with the masterfully hyped announcement of the PlayStation 4. Will the last giant left to enter the fray succumb under the tremendous pressure? Or will the esteemed designers and programmers of Microsoft answer the call with a deafening retort to silence the industry with a console destined to rule them all?

Not if the rumors are true.

Now let's not get ahead of ourselves here, I'm not writing this with insider information or as a time traveler from the near future. Yet, as rumors buzz like caffeinated bees from one website to the next, at least a few of these whispers are worthy of our attention (even just for entertainment's sake), until something more substantial is released. So why will the next Xbox fail? Let's break it down rumor by rumor.

The Rumor: The Next Xbox Won't Play Used Games: This is the big, fat, glaring, nasty rumor that has diehard Microsoft fanboys and GameStop employees alike praying to the gaming gods like sinners on judgment day. So what's the big deal? Well for one, people like the option of keeping or selling a game once they've played it, and since keeping up with the latest and greatest has never been a poor man's pastime, many gamers turn to trading in old games to subsidize their habit. In fact, the importance of this freedom was assessed when used game supergiant GameStop conducted an in house survey on the likelihood of customers buying a console based on its ability to ban used games. The results were tallied and found (surprise, surprise) that three out of every five GameStop customers would avoid purchasing such a console. Now, I don't put much faith in such a survey for obvious reasons (since GameStop conducting a survey regarding used games is the equivalent of surveying cows on the merits of eating beef), but if you were to look at this as a statistical representation of the market, Microsoft is essentially eliminating 60% of their consumers right out the gate. Would you be willing to sacrifice your freedoms as a consumer to guarantee the success of your favorite developers and publishers?

Why it Could Succeed: I can see this working two ways: First, if all the major console developers were on board (they're not), and second, if Microsoft can manage to persuade major developers into developing exclusively for the next Xbox. Think about it. The used game industry is a multibillion dollar industry that earns the vast majority of its funds from the pockets of both publishers and developers. Sure, they both get paid on the initial sale of a new game, but who makes the money when a game is resold (especially when it's bought for pennies and sold again for dollars)? Game developers aren't earning a red cent off used game purchases, and if GameStop is making billions, that's billions the rightful creators are missing out on. If Microsoft can convince developers that developing solely for a console that prevents this kind of third party loss is better, it could provide enough incentive for many brands to hop aboard. More developers making exclusive content essentially creates a greater appeal for the console, which evolves into an increase in sales, resulting in more appeal for developers to develop strictly for it. But are developers willing to turn to a console that has their best interests in mind at the cost of limiting the freedoms of their fans? Or will tradition prevail as developers seek the greatest audience while continually innovating new ways to regain their hard earned money back from the middleman vultures of the used game industry?

The Rumor: The Next Xbox will require a Constant Internet Connection to Play: The internet seas must be rampant with piracy if punishing honest gamers with a forced online connection seems like a viable solution to anyone. Sadly, I can just imagine some bigwig stopping a board meeting at Microsoft to say, You know what, gamers love it when they need an internet connection to play games because servers shutting down for reaching capacity is epic and having to queue for a single player experience is a blast!

If the rumors are true, then say goodbye to the simple days when all you needed was a console and somewhere to plug it in, and roll out the red carpet for an online experience handicapped by connectivity issues with a lifespan limited to a company's commitment to their servers. Forget the inconveniences of not having the internet or the embarrassment of having a connection only suitable for email--once the servers go down on an online-only game, all you have left is a useless disc and a broken heart full of memories.

Why it Could Succeed: It can't. Don't get me started. Constantly connected games are a trend that needed to die yesterday. If you support the notion of always online-DRM (Digital Rights Management), please stop reading, go outside, and walk into oncoming traffic. Actually don't, I don't want your mother suing me when she discovers you've left her basement to follow the advice of someone you met on the internet. Honestly though (and yes, that was sarcastic, I really love you and I'd never say anything that mean), if you can legitimately defend always online-DRM, I'd love to hear your thoughts because, after the Diablo 3 launch and the Sim City fiasco, the always online idea seems like the digital start of the Black Death. Maybe if companies sold heavily chained DRM titles at half price, or even offered incentives for playing online (while still offering the option of an offline single player experience), it could work, but you're still going to have to sell me on the idea before getting me aboard that Titanic. No sir, no ma'am, no thanks!

h9AD0A3EA

The Future of Gaming?

The Rumor: The Next Xbox will Require the Kinect 2.0 be Enabled to Play: Big brother is watching you references aside, the Kinect is little more than a decent idea that's been poorly executed. Could it succeed? Absolutelyif you can forget about the mandatory airline-hanger-for-a-living-room that's required to enjoy it, and the fact that not everyone wants a workout when they sit down to play. Sure, it's innovative, revolutionary, and cutting edge while voice commands are fun (until someone walks through the room while you're playing Madden 13 and calls for a spike on 3rd and 1), but the Kinect generally serves as little more than an entertaining party trick that just isn't necessary in most games. So why make it mandatory?

How it Could Succeed: The Kinect has always had the potential to be something special, though traditionally hindered by the limitations of its own capabilities and design. Microsoft has undoubtedly made significant improvements since its conception, and rumors of the new Kinect being capable of detecting movements from inches away are promising, but the Kinect 2.0 still has miles to go before venturing out from beneath the shadow of its less-than-perfect predecessor. Still, the possibilities are undoubtedly there, and the results could be spectacular if Microsoft managed to implement it properly. Imagine a fighting game that legitimately tracked a player's movements and speed against another combatant? Or a fantasy title that accurately tracked sword-wielding reflexes or spell casting prowess against single player foes or online adversaries? Regardless, if the rumors are true and Microsoft intends to force the Kinect down our throats, they'd better bring a perfected product to the table. No justifications. No work in progress nonsense. No exceptions. If you're going to force gamers to incorporate something new into their traditional habits, you'd better do it as smooth and as gently as possible. Sugarcoat that medicine Microsoft! Or don't feed us a problem we would have lived happily without.

The Rumor: The Next Xbox will Feature 70 dollar Games: Just when the good news of an increase in minimum wage rang through the halls of slums and campus dorms alike--the cold rumor of games increasing to 70 dollars a title has come whispering from the darkness like the icy breath of a shadow. Coincidence? Perhaps. Good move? Absolutely: If you're the one developing or publishing the games and not the sucker paying to play them.

Videogames are already pricey, and the average consumer has to be wise with their purchases, but a ten dollar increase could very well be the breaking point for many. Is now the time to stop our ranting on GameSpot and Facebook and finally let our wallets do the talking? Who do we support? Which is the lesser of two evils? Or does the new $70 become the old $60 as we line up like sheep for Call of Duty 25, Madden 82, and Assassin's Creed 14?  

Why it Could Succeed: If gamers are willing to throw cash towards day one DLC, micro-transactions, and digital advantages, why wouldn't they be willing to part with a little more money for the games they love?  That's partially the logic behind Microsoft's thinking if the rumors are true, and I'm willing to bet they're banking on the horrible spending habits of gamers and society's need to have the latest and greatest as well. If Apple can manage to sell overpriced phones and computers like snake oil, I'm willing to bet that raising the cost of a game by a measly 10 dollars won't impact a consumer's decisions any more than a speed bump in a parking lot stops them from frequenting their favorite store. If gamers keep inhaling their beloved games like spoiled children eating candy, I'd say a price increase isn't just a good business move, but an obvious evolution only a fool would hesitate in making. Welcome to the future ladies and gentlemen: We reap what we sow.

The Rumor: The Next Xbox will be Less Powerful than the Ps4: The reason I mention this, (and mention it last for that matter) is not as a deal breaker itself, but as another strike if any of the other rumors are true. Sure, the current Xbox and PlayStation are neck to neck graphically now, but Microsoft has managed to appeal to consumers through offers and other incentives that seemingly make it a viable option in relation to its competitors Blu-ray featured console. With the Kinect, a full lineup of multimedia distractions, and a large library of Live Arcade games and other multiplayer features, the current Xbox can afford its graphical similarities and slightly limited functionality while still remaining a successful force in the market. But what happens when you strip away these selling points, add limitations, and throw graphical disparity into the mix? You're left with an inferior system that won't sell unless it's at a dramatically reduced price or marketed to an incredibly susceptible audience. Either way, it's another potential strike in a fierce game that Microsoft won't want to lose.

Why it Could Succeed: Any credible gamer can tell you that graphics aren't everything. The current generation showcases a perfect example with the Wii, which is graphically inferior to both the Xbox 360 and the Ps3, but managed to outsell both systems worldwide.  By lowering the graphical output of its next generation contender, Microsoft is decreasing the cost of the system, increasing their profit margins, and essentially making their model friendlier to fans and holiday shopping parents alike. Besides, if the difference in visuals is minimal, while the difference in price is enough for a few more games, many gamers would spring for the option that netted the bigger short-term payout verse the better long term value.

So, what are your thoughts? If any of the rumors are true, are they enough to keep you away from the next Xbox? If not, why? What is your breaking point and when is enough, enough? And if you do support any of the possible changes, I'd love to hear your arguments why.

Thanks for reading.

-Saigo- Out

Oh SOPA

I've never been in the habit of copying and pasting anything to my blog for the sake of originality and creativity—but today I'm making an exception. You see, I'm the passionate sort, but only when I'm 100 percent convinced that my course of action is right and true. I question authority, bow only to morality, and I'll fight the masses and powers that be if my heart of hearts tells me they've lost their way. I've never been the quiet type. Unlike those who only speak of change—I take action for it—and I hope you'll do the same. After all, Mahatma Gandhi had it right when he admonished us to, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Today is January 18th and unless you've been living under a rock, in a hobbit hole, or in the world of Skyrim, you'll know that the date marks the day the internet rises up in protest of SOPA and PIPA. Wikipedia has gone dark, Google has censored their logo, Wired has blotted out their content and Reddit has gone offline. The H.R.3261 "Stop Online Piracy Act" and S.968 "PROTECT IP" are real dangers that require real action to prevent one of the most despised congresses in U.S. history from turning our beloved internet into a fallout styled wasteland of blocked sites and broken opportunities.

But what are SOPA and PIPA really about and why the outrage? Copying and pasting time!

From Reddit.com:

FAQ:

What is the intent of SOPA/PROTECT IP?

The stated intent of the bills is to provide tools for law enforcement and copyright holders to protect their intellectual property rights.

What's wrong with protecting copyrights?

Nothing! The devil, as they say, is in the details. PROTECT IP and SOPA will cause too much collateral damage, have a high potential for abuse, and won't even be that effective at stopping the crimes they target. Read alienth's examination of where these bills fail.

I'm not in the U.S. Why does this affect me?

Many of the sites that you may use (e.g. Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, etc.) are all affected by this law and will be required to hide offending domains from you.

If a non-U.S. site is blocked in the U.S., the site could suffer financially or even be bankrupted by the loss of U.S. traffic and revenue.

What are the differences between PROTECT IP and SOPA?

At a general level, the bills are very similar. SOPA, the "Stop Online Piracy Act," is from the House of Representatives, while the PROTECT IP Act is from the Senate. Either or both bills may pass a vote in their chamber of congress on their way to becoming law. Both must be defeated to end this threat.

What about ACTA?

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, is a multi-national agreement with similar goals to the U.S.-only PROTECT IP and SOPA bills. It is criticized for many of the same reasons that PROTECT IP and SOPA are, but is also concerning because it has been drafted in secret. ACTA is not the focus of this blackout but please take the time to learn more about ACTA.

I'm not a U.S. citizen. How can I help?

You can still call or e-mail the U.S. representatives (sponsors of the bills would be a good choice). However, you may want to turn your attention more towards ACTA or other over-zealous copyright bills in your country.

For more Information: http://www.reddit.com/help/faqs/sopa

Sign the Petition: http://sopastrike.com/modal/strike-modal/index.html

SOPA and PIPA go well beyond stopping piracy and threaten to destroy sites like GameSpot as they transform the face of the internet, destroy creativity and innovation, and abolish jobs in a world economy that's already desperate for them. If you do anything today—take the time to sign the petition and put your name among the thousands already in opposition. Oppose corruption, resist excessive censorship, and be a force for bettering the freedoms of our great nation! After all, it only takes a minute to stop talking about change—and start making a change.

~Saigo Out~

An Open Letter to GameSpot

Dear GameSpot,

Two months ago I wrote a blog entry out of anger and frustration that was both negative and condescending. I was frustrated about the direction of the site, the recent "Sidekick" competition, and the end of the shortly lived "Sync" production. My venting was neither productive nor beneficial to anyone.

However, after careful consideration I've decided to dig up the past and write an open letter to GameSpot that I feel presents both the problem and viable solutions in a constructive and professional way. Rather than simply writing a rant, screaming at the walls until I'm blue in the face or sitting complacently and waiting for things to change on their own, I've decided to voice the concerns of the community in a way that I hope is both instructional and beneficial to both the site and its fans. I hope that my suggestions are taken into consideration and we can make GameSpot better than ever.

The GameSpot community is an invaluable asset to both the continued success of the website and CBS Interactive's financial interests in it. Before I emphasize and reiterate why, I feel it's important to discern the differences between a community member and a typical visitor to the site. Though both visitors to the site and members of the community come from varied economic and social backgrounds, there is a distinguished difference between the two that can be summed up in a single word: Investment.

A visitor to the site will come and go as their need arises or GameSpot queues higher on their search engine inquiry. Visitors float between GameSpot, IGN, Giantbomb, and Gamesradar, and visit the site to address their immediate demands before venturing elsewhere—they have no investment or attachment. A community member on the other hand is invested in the site. They return time and time again, create an account, seldom inquire of other sites (unless their needs can't be addressed here), and contribute to the building up and bettering of the site as a whole. They write blogs, comment on and create forums, join and run unions, and they bring a constant flow of traffic regardless of promotions or game releases. They're invested in the site because of the time and efforts they've contributed.

However, through the recent months and continued changes, GameSpot has forsaken one of their greatest assets by underutilizing the community and its contributions. Though the changes to the site are aesthetically pleasing and the continued refinements to features are appreciated, I feel the general direction of the site is misguided. The community is an invaluable asset to GameSpot and recent changes have segregated your fan base from your available market share of casual and uncommitted visitors or potential consumers.

Someone visiting the site for the first time will see a display of the latest headlines, a top 10 list of the current most popular games, a latest and greatest list of featured articles and reviews, and a Facebook social plugin with a link to GameSpot's Facebook page. The design itself is suave, visually appealing and informative for "at a glance" viewing, but it outright fails to showcase what GameSpot truly has to offer. In order to access anything involving the community or its contributions, a new visitor will have to navigate through a misleadingly labeled dropdown tab titled, "culture," click on the mysterious "culture homepage" to find a rehash of recent news and a few GameSpot staff blogs, or click on the indescriptive "soapbox" link to find their first community contributions. Why would anyone but the exceptionally curious venture that far into the site? What appeal does the homepage offer to encourage visitors to create accounts and become regulars? Why stop at the initial appeal of the site without showcasing some of its greatest features?

By segregating community contributions you limit the consistency of your internet traffic by failing to market one of your greatest assets as a site and subsequently diminish the value of your fan base by inevitably decreasing its growth. By failing to feature your best (and unpaid) talent on the front page of your site, through either an easily accessible soapbox or community banner, you strip your contributors of the exposure they deserve while denying visitors the appeal of joining your fan base to comment on blog entries or contribute works of their own. The more everyday visitors to the site invest beyond the news, reviews, and videos, the higher the odds are they'll stay rather than perusing the pages of your competition. Besides, more traffic, especially consistent traffic, equates to more revenue through advertisement, an exponential growth through word of mouth, and a better site for both the community and the staff.

The solution I present is simple: Either decrease the size of your Facebook plugin—or remove it from your home page. I personally have nothing against the plugin but it either needs to take up less space or it needs to go for a few reasons:

  1. Beyond being a link to your Facebook page, the plugin serves no purpose. Social integration is good but no one cares about the faces of 100,000 strangers.
  2. The plugin is taking up valuable space that could be used for better features or services.
  3. The plugin ruins the appeal of the site. Facebook announced back in May of 2011 that over 100,000 sites use the same plugin. Though it's familiar it's not original. Besides, the appeal of Facebook just isn't what it used to be.

Regardless, you can still direct those who are interested to your Facebook page without the pictures of 10 people staring at them like a mug shot lineup every time they scroll to the bottom of the page. Keep a "like" link if you must, get rid of the pictures, and use the space to your advantage.

In fact, I'd suggest using that space to create a banner for either the "Soapbox" feature or a newly designed community banner that links visitors to a page dedicated to user contributions and blogs. Go beyond editorial submissions and include links to user blogs sortable by type, category, title, or date and provide an index for searching old blogs or current bloggers. You'd see a dramatic increase in blogging activity, including an increase in site traffic and user comments, as well as an increase in fan base. You'd revitalize the "Soapbox" feature which literally lost hundreds of comments per blog when the format of the site was changed, and you'd begin to fully utilize the untapped resources of community talent that you've allowed to grow dormant and jaded.

The change is simple and the resources are already there. The more your visitors invest in the site, the more attached they'll become. By increasing your fan base beyond the casual and transforming your sporadic traffic into actual members and contributors to your community, you increase the consistency of your traffic flow and with it your advertising rates, your financial security, and your site as a whole. By simply removing or decreasing the size of your Facebook plugin and by adding a banner that links to either the soapbox or a true community page, I believe you'll not only show a little respect to your loyal fans but you'll gain a greater following through utilizing the benefits of your community to its fullest.

Finally, I'd feel disrespectful and totally ungrateful if I didn't mention the efforts of Synthia Weires and Jody Robinson. Both women have done absolutely exceptional work in bettering the community, its fan base, and the sites overall ambience with their contributions on the community blog and their personalities in general. Both women excel in managing GameSpot's fan base, addressing their concerns, and keeping things here interesting and fun while remaining accessible and utterly likeable in everything they do. I simply cannot express in words what they mean to the community.

I understand that I'm one member of the community but I speak with the words and thoughts of many. I'm not a fanatic but a fulltime college student who works 40+ hours a week with a passion for games, writing, and GameSpot. It's my honest desire to see the site succeed beyond a typical web address and truly become what it's capable of. I see a bright future for GameSpot but there are a few things that need to be fixed. Thank you for reading and listening to my thoughts and concerns and I hope that the appropriate changes will be considered.

Honestly Yours,

-Saigo-

PS: To any members of the community who read this and agree with my statements or message, please feel free to copy and paste my blog to your own. Thank you all for your time and support.

@Boubou

@jwhdavison

@JodyR

@Synthia