The Digital Age: We Are Not Ready
If you think of a year such as 2005, you would laugh at the stuff we thought were cutting edge and at the pinnacle of technology. Nowadays our technology is incredibly advanced. Just look at the hundreds of things the phone in your pocket can do that some computers couldn’t even do just a decade ago. Our world is admittedly going more and more digital thanks to the technological advancements that have been made. But are we truly ready for it? I think not. Everything is not as clear cut as we think.
I hate to still complain about the Xbox One, but it’s the only topic that really has my attention right now because it’s a huge part of our gaming future. I also don’t have a PS3 so I can’t play The Last Of Us so that’s out of the window. Anyway, I’ve been keeping very close track of interviews and news concerning the Xbox One because I still have a little speck of hope that Microsoft might make a triumphant return or at least give us a fallible reason why they decided to just screw us over. In most of these interviews I started noticing a pattern that Xbox employees have been developing. That is that they want the Xbox One to be future-proof. Be a sort of introduction to the digital age that we all have to embrace at some point.
I call bullshit. Their policies are there to control us and that’s the long and short of it, but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt here. The digital age does seem more and more likely these days thanks to almost everything being digital and people have been getting better access to internet and means to embrace it. It does sound like a plausible reason why Microsoft wants to move to the all digital front by introducing features that only work when there is internet present. It’s actually rather ambitious of them to attempt this move to a more “connected” gaming experience, I’ll give them that. But my question is: why force it?
The world isn’t only the people you see on your subscription numbers and people that downloaded Minecraft. There’s millions of people out there where it’s still a struggle to just be connected to the internet, let alone use features and ideas that require it. I should know, I’m one of them. My internet isn’t the worst in the world and it’s actually pretty sufficient, but I’m still not truly connected. I’m constantly struggling to get things to work properly and even on Xbox LIVE it’s a mission to just stay connected with my friend. If I download a 6 gb game it takes an entire day of constant downloading to finish. Streaming is an absolute bust unless I want to watch something in sections that was made with Lego bricks. It’s impossible for me to experience everything Microsoft wants me to experience purely because of my shoddy bandwidth. Sidebar: My speed is 2 mbps. Only 0.5 mbps faster than what Microsoft expects and I can’t even do basic things.
The point I’m trying to make is that world is not ready to get into the digital age. Not enough people have the ability to truly embrace all the internet rich features that Microsoft wants to implement. Cloud gaming in particular has received a lot of hype from Microsoft, but I think they’re overestimating themselves a bit too much. Because everyone do not have the ability or internet speeds necessary to even run basic actions or so things such as streaming and the like, how will cloud gaming fare? It’s not a practical decision at this point in time. It’s certainly something that can happen, there’s no problem with it, but only contain it to certain games that people can simply choose to not buy if they know their experience won’t be up to par. Not force everyone and their grandma to be fully ready and willing to do cloud gaming.
Sure, I’m not fully against a “digital only” world. The little I’ve done that used my internet connection to give me a broader world and opportunities was fantastic and I really enjoyed it. But, the world is not ready yet. Maybe in 5 or even 10 years time when technology has advanced past our wildest dreams, it will be a massive possibility, maybe even the only way forward. But right now, it’s not. In the meantime, give us games that we can buy from shops and online retailers without needing to put it on the damn cloud or download 10 gb of patches every time we start it up. Implement your features such as streaming, cloud gaming, shared folders and what have you, but give us the option rather than the obligation.
Sony is doing it perfectly. They’re embracing the formula that has worked for years, but are still leaving enough room for the future of gaming. When the time comes when we are ready, we will embrace it, but before that time comes we have to be able to enjoy the hobby we are so attached to in the way that we are used to. It’s no use to force things onto people and hope that they will come around in the next 5 years or so. Things can drastically change in that time. We might discover a way to use sand as a way to connect to the internet. Or nothing might happen and we will still be stuck with the same shitty infrastructures we have now. Then where’s your future-proof?
Advancement is a gradual process. For example, look at how the Xbox 360’s dashboard evolved. The first dashboard had maybe 5 slides with a tiny marketplace and a friend count. Now we have a massive library of arcade and indie games, television (ugh), streaming apps, avatars, smart device control and a whole bunch more if you’re lucky enough to be American. The Xbox One wants to jump over that 7 year progression and give their fans no preparation for it. That’s why everyone is so pissed off about it. Mandatory installations and digital focused game libraries? Just no.
Right now, your only real choice is to build a foundation, give your fans the same experience they have now and gradually convert people over to a more futuristic idea of gaming while still holding the traditions that are in place. It’s as simple as that. I wish Microsoft could have seen this as the only step forward because the console is honestly fantastic if it wasn’t for all the bullshit policies, “features” and restrictions. Microsoft could have taken next-gen without even so much as a struggle, but nope, rather force your fans to do things they are not capable of and push away a massive portion of your fanbase while adopting an elitist mentality.
Perhaps, and this is a very loose perhaps, it won’t be so bad. Maybe it’s going to be alright and people would be able to use the console without problem. Maybe Microsoft will win next-gen. I highly doubt they will, but the probability is always there. I’m still getting a PS4 though.