I really want to rage about Batman: Arkham Origins being soiled with multiplayer, but what would be the point? It's not going to help sales, it's not going to raise review scores, but they're going to keep tacking on multiplayer to games I'm interested in anyway. Me complaining about this for the hundredth time is just pissing in the wind. So I'm going to blog about something else.
Some people have told me that's it's surprising that I seem so interested in the PS4, when my gaming for this generation has mainly been on the Xbox 360. It's logical that I should want to move my profile with all that history over to my next gen console, right? Well, that would certainly be nice, but unfortunately for me Microsoft's consoles just don't have the appeal they used to.
The Xbox 360 was the first console from this generation that I bought and for years afterward it was, in my view, clearly the best console out of the 3. I very quickly got used to the 360 dashboard and was surprised when checking for new downloadable releases and comparing my games with those on my friends list became a daily ritual for me. I found the PS3 dashboard clunky and hard to navigate, and the Wii dashboard didn't have much of interest aside from the ability to download some cool classic games. And even there, the 360 had a more interesting selection than its competition. All the downloadable games that everyone was talking about, like Braid or Super Meat Boy, were either on the 360 exclusively or before the other systems.
Retail releases also favored the 360 early on. I really enjoyed their exclusive series like Halo and Gears of War, and reviews for multiplatorm games always seemed to mention how much buggier the game was on PS3. Sony had some sold exclusives, but they only seemed to come out 2 or 3 times a year. The Wii had sold games, but big budget, narrative heavy games on the 360 just drew me in more.
Then there was the achievement system. From the moment my first achievement popped I was addicted. There's something about watching my gamerscore go up that taps into my old school sensibilities. Points don't really matter in games anymore. But gamerscore helped feed that need for a "high score" that never really left me. And even better, all my friends could see my accomplishments, no matter where they were. Achievements gave me a reason to get more out of my games. I explore levels more thoroughly and use gameplay mechanics I might have otherwise ignored just to get those achievements. Games that I might have blown through on a weekend are now given the time needed for me to appreciate all they have to offer. In previous generations, I didn't much care what system a game was for, but in this gen, being on the Xbox 360 actually made a game more interesting to me.
All this has slowly started to change over the last couple of years. Each new dashboard update for the 360 seems to push video game further into the background so that more room can be taken up by TV and music services that I don't care about, or even worse, more advertisements on a service that I'm already paying a fee for. The addition of DLC achievements has hurt my enjoyment of achievements in general. It's all too common for me to finish a game after collecting 90% of the gamerscore, only to find months later that my completion percentage is down to 40% because they added achievements for a bunch of DLC that I had no interest in buying. More and more of the great indie devs that had given the 360 so many fantastic games have started to complain about how terrible Microsoft was to work with, and while the release of quality XBLA games has became less frequent, the Playstation Network has started to get some really clever and unique games like Journey.
All these problems only look to get worse with Microsoft's next console. MS has made no secret of their focus on TV and sports for the Xbone. I can't imagine what the new dashboard will look like, or how much crap that I don't care about they'll force me to wade through in order to get to the video game content. In yet another misguided attempt to keep gamers from trading in their games, the Xbone will allow devs to add on achievements to their games on top of what they already have weeks after the game has been released. So if I buy a game on release day and finish it a week later I'm going to to replay the whole game months later to get all the new achievements. No thanks. The PS4 has some great indie titles already announced, while Microsoft has seemed to just stop caring about indies. And Sony has seemed to learn from their mistakes with the PS3, making to PS4 easier to develop for, so hopefully multiplatform games should be equal on both systems.
So that's why I'm now so anti-Xbone and pro-PS4. A few years ago I would have thought it'd be a no-brainer to buy the next MS console, but Microsoft has bungled so much recently the 360 might be the only MS console I ever own. For the next generation I want a device focused on video games. That's not something MS seems prepared to give me.
My Xbox Live Gold membership expires in the summer of 2014. I likely won't be renewing it. If any of you want to play Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara with me, your time is running out! ;)