Sony has fumbled the ball on their own 20 yard line. Time for Team Xbox to pick it up and run with it!
When I first heard about Sony’s proposed PlayStation Now service at this year’s CES, I was floored. Your telling me that an entire library of games will be accessible at the touch of a button, streamed right into my living room without ever having to set foot in the devil’s playground (AKA GameStop) again? Hell yeah, where do I sign! If I had one of those “Shut up and take my money” signs, I’d insert it right here. To me, this was to be an absolute game changer in not just the current console fight, but the future of our entire industry.
And now that the service is currently available on both PlayStation consoles (with the PS3 beta recently going live), has the renaissance period I predicted finally begun?
Not to so much.
Unfortunately for this gaming journalist, I may have overestimated the ability of corporate types to oversee such a ground-breaking concept without first tripping over their own feet. Right from the jump, the roll-out was criticized for several key hiccups. Some were excusable, as they related to technical kinks that I can overlook (considering this is such a new venture into an area no one has really attempted before). However, one main concern voiced by users was completely legitimate and 100% avoidable (had those at Sony not placed their heads up their asses). Of course I’m referring to the absolute ridiculous pricing structure they’ve put in place. This one-size-fits-all approach (resulting in some older titles costing more to rent than it would to buy them used) reflects a lack of vision of those in charge. I find it reminiscent of Microsoft announcing several bad policies during E3 2013, which they were later forced to back-pedal on just a few short months later. While Sony has stated it’s reviewing its rates in the hopes of providing a more non-uniformed system, this only further solidifies the belief this should have been a flat-rate subscription service right from the start! As a result, they took what could have been a grand-slam and turned it into a bunt.
And this is where Microsoft can swoop in for the kill, possibly snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
So far, Xbox hasn’t exactly earned a reputation as someone looking to innovate the industry. Despite its faults, at least Sony’s venture is taking a stab at building a streaming base. Microsoft has nothing in that regard. When support of the Oculus Rift caught fire, Sony followed suit with their own VR tech. Again, Microsoft has nothing. In-fact, the Kinect (the only real feather in their cap), has now been dropped and is hence forth known as “the peripheral whom shan’t be named.” So what better time for Microsoft to stake a claim as the clearly superior brand in the market of streaming games? A report this week revealed the Xbox maker is quietly testing a way to streamline the cloud in such a waythat you‘ll actually be able to run Xbox One titles in your browser (hard to believe, I know). This is one of those gaming-unicorns that seems WAY too good to be true. However, if Microsoft can pull it off, expanding this kind of tech to a digital library of games is just a hop, skip and jump away. Not to mention it could become the magic bullet needed to achieve victory in 2015.
Alas, my faith is a bit shaken. It’s not that I doubt Microsoft’s ability to accomplish something like this, as it seems like a logical step for a company whose roots are based in both software and technology (with gaming being it’s third wheel). Unfortunately, if there is one thing Microsoft has proven time and time again, it’s their aptitude for letting us down. For the most part, the default action coming from the Xbox camp over the last year or so has been reactionary, not revolutionary. This is a golden opportunity just ripe for the taking; all they need to do is seize the moment before Sony does.
The problem is, does anyone remember a time when Microsoft did anything better than Sony? The days of that golden age seemingly passed with the death of the Xbox 360.