There was a lot of good and bad in the world of tech and gaming this week. Sony execs admit that something needs to be done differently for it's struggling handheld, Gamespy's closure has led to EA closing online services for 50 games, Nintendo still stands steadfast by the WiiU and won't release another console until people love the WiiU despite having a rough idea of what they want to do with the next console, survey says that 74% of us aren't quite on board with digital distribution yet, Bioware outlined a ridiculous near $200 Dragon Age: Inquisition collectors edition, Flappy Bird will be rising from it's grave with multiplayer added this August, Philips has thrown a wrench in Nintendo's engine filing suit that claims patent infringement with the WiiU and it's peripherals, the FCC is continuing to fuck with Net Neutrality, and Halo 5 will drop in Fall of next year.All of this (save for the Net Neutrality thing) pales in comparison to the bombshells dropped by Microsoft this week regarding the PlayStation 4, I mean, Xbox One.
They've finally pulled their heads out of their asses and removed the paywall for Netflix and other assorted services. They've announced that as of June 9th, you can get a Kinect-less Xbox One. They are even offering refunds due to the changes they are going to be implementing starting in June. They've got GameStop on board with them offering pretty decent trade-in value on PS3s and Xbox 360s if you trade in towards an Xbox One.
That isn't to say that this comes without a cost. The Games with Gold service will now be just like PlayStation Plus. You'll still need Gold to play online but it's always been like that.
All this got me thinking though. All that bullshit that they talked at last year's E3 is all gone now. DRM, gone. Kinect requirement and now the Kinect itself, gone. They've changed the entire infrastructure of what the Xbox One was to keep up with their competitor who is, as of right now, the former and now current king of the console arena.
With all these changes it now comes down to brand loyalty. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are now more or less the same system aside from a slight power and graphical boost for the PlayStation 4. Microsoft knew that they had to do something in order to catch up to Sony and did just that. By Bill Belichick-ing Sony's playbook.
Now you see why I made the PS4 dig earlier. It's funny and sad at the same time. What Microsoft was doing was wrong from the get-go but after destroying their credibility in the early going with the Xbox One they are now simply a carbon copy of their competitor. They botched the start and despite the console performing admirably, I don't feel that they can fully recover from the PR nightmare they made for themselves.
I hope that they have something big up their sleeve software wise come E3 because good platform exclusives are all they have left. Titanfall might still be the best-selling game right now but it isn't exclusive to the Xbox One. If they don't do something in the next little while, Sony's lead is going to continue to grow and Microsoft will be nipping at the heels of the industry leader until the next generation.
If there even is a next generation...