OK, it was a fun ride, but now what?
I sat here starring at a blank page and a blinking cursor for a few moments, trying to capsulate exactly how I felt after the Xbox One’s opening weekend. Not so much on the console launch itself (we’ll get to that in a moment), but how I felt regarding the gaming world now officially standing knee deep in the next-gen. I know there are those that would argue that the next-gen started with the Wii U a few years back. To them I say… actually, I can’t say anything over my hysterical laughter. Sorry, but it’s true. Welcome to the real show. What I do find myself feeling is those post-Christmas morning blues. We’ve all had it; the anticipation has built all year long and then, after a few minutes spent in a wrapping-paper tearing frenzy, it’s over. Then we’re left thinking to ourselves, “Now what?”
First up on the agenda is the post-game report for the launch of the Xbox One.
The console did hit the 1 million sales mark to match the PS4, a feat that many thought it couldn’t/wouldn’t achieve. So, now that the system has had a few days to stretch its legs, let us commence ripping it to shreds, shall we? After all, just like the PlayStation 4 the week before, the One’s launch was not without its issues. Shall we get started?
Actually, no, I don’t think we’ll carve it up just yet. Aside from the fact that it’s still a bit early for that, there isn’t all the much to report. I dare say that Microsoft has pulled off an almost flawless launch, with positive reviews across the board. The most significant issue reported so far is the disc read errors, where a grinding noise can be heard when inserting a game disc into the Xbox One drive. Of course, there will always be haters on forums and blogs that exaggerate things; I would venture to say that this issue is so isolated it could be even less widespread than the problems Sony faced with its console (which resulted in only about .4% of systems being returned). I’ve gotta say that I’m pretty proud of Microsoft in this regard, as they may have finally learned a huge lesson from the “Red Ring of Death” debacle that plagued the 360 early on. Of course, just the mere act of typing this sentence probably jinxed me into eating crow later, as I’m sure 90% of the Xbox One disc drives just started grinding to a halt. The good news is Microsoft has already established an early response program that will let users who do have issues receive a new console before they even send their old one back. Well played Microsoft, well played.
So, if both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 had killer launch weekends (with only a few snafus), I have to once again pose my question from earlier to the gaming nation: what now?
It goes without saying, we’re in for some exciting times in the months and years to come. With killer next-gen games and new technology, the gaming experience has become so much more than just sitting and starring. Me, I’m actually more interested in the unintended consequences. Specifically, how the huge infusion of social media and the “always on, always plug-in” culture will influence gaming moving forward. For instance, Twitch (via Twitter) recently had to remind people that it would be removing any “non-game related videos” from its service. This was in response to pulling down a slew of PlayRoom videos that featured “lewd behavior.”
Now, I’ve not seen said videos, but we all know that “lewd behavior” is just college talk for “no more dick videos you bastards.” It’s kinda funny, but people at Sony and Microsoft really should have seen that coming. Gamers are now given unprecedented access to do things with their gaming devices we’ve never seen before. It’s not just two hands on a controller any longer. Does this mean a new kind of renaissance will come to the consoles now? It was the mod scene on the PC that really helped bolster some of that platforms longevity as a gaming option. Doing things that you were never intended to do with gaming content is the mother of invention, and it will be interesting to see how things shake out with the new tech that the next-gen will bring.
There will always be those who do stupid things (see point about dick videos above) that some just don’t see in the cards ahead of time: for instance, selling “Day One” achievements from the Xbox One’s launch on eBay (oh yeah, that’s happening too). Instead of focusing on those, I’d rather focus on where user experiences may take us. It could end up being as influential (if not more so) than content from the major developers in the future.
Usually, the fear of the unknown is cause for anxiety, but in this case, it’s cause for excitement. The next-gen will no doubt be full of surprises -- maybe from the most unexpected of places?