When I heard last week that you could order a pizza via XBox Live, a little part of me died inside.
Of course, I’m exaggerating. The truth is, I lapsed my XBox Gold membership over a year ago because it had been ages since I had played games over the service and I was one of those people who had dumped Netflix when it went all Quikster. And using Facebook, or for that matter any other social media on my XBox, is the reverse equivalent of playing Gears of War on my phone.
But seriously, if being Pizza Hut’s marketing arm is the most innovative last gasp that the 360 is giving me, I’ve got reservations about the new model.
I was one of the people who lined up for the XBox back in 2001, and while I waited a few months for a 360, I eventually got suckered in and loved the thing. I’ve had my XBox hardwired to the Internet since I opened it, I’ve played brutal, curse-filled deathmatches over Live, and I’ve used the various media services like Netflix with much success (it was actually kind of hard to let it go).
I thought it would be a great day when Time Warner and Microsoft finally agreed to give me ESPN3 over the XBox, but that went kind of meh. I bought a Kinect, I like the Kinect. My kids like it more. I have had Halo 4, still unopened, since I got it for my birthday.
Yes. People still buy me XBox games for my birthday.
So when I got the invite to come see the new XBox — the XBox 720 or the XBox 3 or XBox Me or whatever they’re going to call it — as it’s being unveiled next month, that was like hearing an old friend you haven’t talked to in a while is moving to your city. It sounds awesome, but it also might be a lot of work.
You just don’t know.
But initial reports have me skeptical.
I’m hearing that with the switch over to X86, backwards compatibility is all but impossible. I know I’m in the minority here, but come on — this is a serious financial and emotional investment.
The backwards compatibility issue from 360 to original was handled so poorly that it remains a total turnoff. I’m still frankensteining my original 2001 XBox (what warranty?) to keep it working to be able to play some of those games, mostly at the insistence of my kids now that my time for gaming has dwindled to near zero.
But the kids have that huge emotional investment in the 360 games to match my financial, especially the Kinect. If you’re telling me that I have to replace the 360 or run dual devices, I’m a lot less likely to buy the new XBox, regardless of how many millions of hairs can be rendered on its launch games that likely aren’t going to be as good as the original Halo.
The XBox is 12 years old. Not all your gamers are 19.
I’m also hearing that the OS and the hardware are going to be completely closed. Again. And there might be a requirement for always-connected Internet and harsher DRM that will do things like balk at used games.
Yeah, do that last one, because that worked so well for the music and movie industries.
Microsoft, you made a big effort to sell the 360 as a home entertainment device, not a console, and at the time the promise was so lofty that the surface-scratching you did in this area seemed like a worthy accomplishment.
That’s not true anymore.
Like I don’t know yet that you’re going to include Blu-Ray, which would be stupid to leave out, as the HD-DVD war is over. But even Blu-Ray is about to become a forgotten standard. I’ve heard talk of Star Trek holodeck-like 3D holographic projections on my walls. You better have that, because if it’s just 3D capability then welcome to 2011, when 3D died a quiet death.
And with all the expensive a-la-carte offerings on Live, Sony and even Nintendo are catching up. I don’t want to have to run a new XBox, a 360, a Blu-Ray player, a Kinect, and a stereo receiver (because frankly, your media sharing service is sketchy) out of my entertainment cabinet.
Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the cable box, because cable, compared to pricing out the two flavors of Netflix and the a-la-carte options on the XBox, the PC, and the Mac, makes Time Warner and, get this, freaking Blockbuster (yes, we still have one nearby), the more logical and convenient choice.
HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?
So that being said, Microsoft, you need to blow me away with the new XBox. If it’s not going to be backwards compatible and it’s not going to be open, it better make me a damn good cup of coffee every morning, while it also integrates completely with my lighting and alarm system, starts my car, and allows my kids to watch SpongeBob just by humming the chorus of “The Best Day Ever.”
If not, you’re going to have an iPhone 5 on your hands, and while Apple can probably absorb that, you, makers of Windows 8, can not.