Friday, May 31, 2013

I am officially hyped for Starlight Inception.


I stumbled across a trailer last night that's all over the 'net today - the first real trailer for a game called Starlight Inception.  It's a Vita game that... wait for it... was successfully Kickstarted last year.

A Kickstarted game on the Vita.  I know, this is the first one I've heard of, too. Now, this trailer won't exactly blow your mind with graphics or even art direction - but if you loved the old-school space combat games like X-Wing, TIE Fighter and Wing Commander, I defy you not to have your imagination summarily captured.



It's due out this August on PC, PS3 and Vita.  And yes, this is one of those games where you can totally customize your ships, and once in the cockpit you have total control over your power systems, et cetera.  (Need to catch up to that frigate?  Divert all power to the engines!)  Oooh, I can't wait...

The devs have also been answering questions put to them in the video's comments section, and my only curiosity has been answered:

The solar system (Starlight takes place in our own) is one big "open world," so to speak.  You can be cruising around in space and take your ship all the way down to the surface of the planets.  Eee!

Here are the important points from the Kickstarter description:
  • Dramatic and realistic storyline: Players will experience an enveloping space saga with a deep and involving story that spans the solar system.
  • Richly detailed: Rich detail will show from the capital ships, environments, space fighters, transports to explosions.
  • Space action: Action in space and over the surface of planets and moons. Fly over a planet’s atmosphere then swoop down over surface vehicles and troops for a visceral experience both at high and low altitudes.
  • Camera perspective: Switchable 1st and 3rd person cameras let the player tailor the game experience to their own liking.
  • Lots of stuff to do: Blow up stuff with the most advanced fighters known to man, salvage destroyed vessels for cool stuff, defend your ship against incoming marauders, locate and destroy ground targets, blow up more stuff...
I'm not generally one to support a dev without first having laid hands on one of their products, but this... is a game type I haven't been able to cuddle up with in over a decade.  

Day one.  Yes please. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Last of Us demo unlocks at 12:00 noon.


...if you've still got your copy of God of War: Ascension.  That's 12:00 central time, according to the countdown clock on my copy.

Oh, and Mogs - the demo won't unlock if you're not connected to PSN.  It doesn't check the time through your PlayStation 3's clock - it forces you to connect to the PlayStation Network to verify the time (so you can't cheese it by resetting the PS3's clock).  Not... that I tried that, or anything...

[update] Innnteresting. From the disc, it shuttles you into the PlayStation Store so you can download a 125MB file. Once that's done, it installs, you run that file, and that file turns out to be a downloader for the rest of the demo. 29 minutes to go...[/update]

[update update] Ahhh, that was worth the wait.  Wish it had human enemies instead of the cordyceps to show off the more-dynamic AI, but it was still gorgeous in all ways, with a very intense stealth-and-kill-'em sequence towards the end.  I mean... I suppose I didn't have to stealth it, but guns blazin' didn't seem very viable.

Two weeks to go, people! And I reckon that'll be worth the wait, too. [/update update]

Less than 24 hours later, A Hat in Time is fully funded!


Nice - and it grew another ten grand in the two hours since I posted this!  Here's the Kickstarter if you'd like to lend a hand.

Dragon's Crown gets day-1 DLC and it's... free?

How Iron Man 3 should have ended.



This is one of their better ones.

Think you own a copy of Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown? Check again.


With BlazBlue's Vita version coming free to PS+ and Chamberlain's accounts of fighting tourneys fresh in my mind, last night I found myself hankerin' for Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown for the first time since Kayla decided she wouldn't play it with me ever again.

"This content has expired," my PS3 told me, and directed me to the PlayStation Store.  ...the fuck..?

Sony?  What are you doing, Sony?  Don't you know how freaked out people are right now about DRM on consoles?  This is not cool.

I exited out to the XMB and found the info tab on VF5:FS.  It said the game only had a license for three months - from June 5th, 2012 (the game's launch date, when I purchased it), to three months later.

I immediately Googled this - because I'm definitely not the first person this happened to - and discovered threads from here to the VF5 forums themselves detailing the problem.  If you - like me - paid $30 for your copy of Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown on PS3 on launch day, you were ignoring the PlayStation Plus deal that permitted you to get vanilla version of the game (without the costume packs) for free.

When VF5:FS launched, its base version was free for PS+ members.  This is the problem.

The PS+ North American Instant Game Collection, on June 5th 2012.

As far as the system was concerned, I had the "free" version off Plus, along with all the costume packs from the CE - but not the CE itself that I paid $30 for.  This "free" version was then set to 'expire' when my then-Plus membership expired - in September, 2012.  Going back through my download list, I can see all those costume packs downloaded on June 5th, 2012 - but the game itself is gone from my list.

So I checked my associated email account, and found my electronic receipt.  I definitely paid full price for this game.

Forum threads here and there informed me that there are solutions - one fellow got a refund from Sony, but it took weeks to occur and the rep was very clear with him that this was "a one-time courtesy."

What bullshit.

I was not exactly... heartened by these accounts.  I wasn't prepared to submit myself to a jerk of a customer service agent and an interminable two-weeks wait. I just wanted to throw out some high kicks and sick combos with my Shaolin style fighter!

...so what did I do..?

I gave PSN another five bucks and bought the vanilla version of VF5:FS, which gave me an indefinite license and allowed me access to my game and all its DLC again.  It's okay if you're upset with that - I was a little upset with myself, but y'know what?  It was 02:00 and I'm lazy.

This morning, I called Sony's customer service line.  And what do you think happened?

Dionne (artist's interpretation)

I spoke to Dionne, who asked me some standard questions and allowed me to explain the situation in detail. She conferred with the supervisor (who, thank God, was familiar with the issue with VF5:FS), and they were prepared to refund me thirty dollars for the purchase last June and five dollars for the purchase last night.

"I just need the five bucks back," I told her.  "That means now instead of PSN fleecing me for five bucks, I'm fleecing PSN for fifteen (VF5:FS CE is $14.99 right now).  That's not what I was looking for."

"What I'm looking to do here is just make sure that you're taken care of," she told me.

Dionne and your supervisor, you guys rock.

Thank you, Sony customer support.

Limbo drops on Vita this Tuesday.


It'll be $14.99 - and yes, the game is as good as they say.  ...I'm just not sure if I want to buy it a third time.

Why Xbox One's messaging has been so awful.


Kotaku's got a nice visual representation of the various itchy questions surrounding the One, and the various (often contradictory) answers the media has been given by Microsoft spokesfolks.

See this, Microsoft?  This is how you screwed up your console reveal.

Killzone: Shadow Fall Conversations with Creators.


Sony's been tossing out a lot of these Conversations with Creators videos, but I keep feeling we're being fed a very controlled message and never actually told anything new - the PS4 is much easier to program for and much more developer-friendly than the PS3, and it's got way more memory and power.  We know.

You'd probably be better served by just cranking the HD and watching the 8-minute gameplay feed of Shadow Fall again:



At the same time, though, I like the idea behind these videos.  I love the idea of getting to know the developers behind the games and franchises we love, and putting a face and name to the companies we support - but that's never what these videos provide.  Aside from Jon "Hot Air" Blow telling us why all games but his lack thoughtful or interesting design, these videos only ever come across as Sony telling us how awesome Sony is.

I appreciate that you're trying to hype the PS4, Sony, but I wish these "conversations" with developers would be more than a one-sided stream telling us how amazing the PS4 is without actually providiing any new insight.  I wish, instead, they would focus on the developers, their stories and what they're excited about.  I wish they would focus on the games themselves, offering insight that we haven't been shown before - and then, simply end with a mention - oh, by the way, this is only on PlayStation.

Another gentle Rain trailer.



Shades of ICO, anyone?

Oh God, Mirror's Edge 2 might be really real.


This is a screengrab NeoGaffer Ekim took of the Electronic Arts help page for Mirror's Edge 2.  This follows the "common knowledge" Tweet from Ben Cousins last year, and listings on both Amazon Italy and Amazon Germany earlier in the month - both of which tend to accurately spill their beans when it comes to game announcements (particularly Amazon Germany).

This seems to really be real, folks.  IGN checked it out and took a similar screenshot after Ekim.

Shake up the eight ball, baby.  Signs point to yes!.


I just sent my second-ever Tweet.

No typos this time.


Someone had to say something.  I just guess that someone had to be me.

(Sigh.)  Courage is such a burden...

If you're wondering who @shahidkamal is, that's Shahid Ahmad, the guy who is pretty-much personally responsible for Thomas was Alone, Hotline Miami and other such cool indie fare landing on the Vita recently.  We have a lot to thank him for.

C'mon, Ahmad!  The best handheld system with the best indie content?  Make this happen.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Kickstart A Hat in Time - a love letter to N64 platformers.



This... looks... lovely!

It has a delightful cel-shaded visual style, immediately recalling The Wind Waker, adorable character design and the hero's a girl!  I love everything about this.  Kickstarter video!



A Hat in Time is already nearing 30% of its goal (a mere $30,000), and the developer plans to release a PC and Mac version, with console versions in the cards - they really want it on the Wii U - if they can find a publishing partner.

Screenshots!









If this looks like your cup of tea (and if it doesn't, who are you?), toss 'em some cash to finish the game!

Good luck, Gears for Breakfast - this is one Kickstarter that I really hope ends up shattering a few stretch goals.

The rise of Klei Entertainment.


There's a great (and long) article over at Polygon today which catalogs the birth and maturation of Vancouver's Klei Entertainment - my favoritest indie studio in the world, responsible for the very-good Shank, the exemplary Shank 2 and the supernaturally wonderful Mark of the Ninja.  It features insight into the past and current makeup of the studio, as well as comments from Cheng's wife and the studio's artistic director, Jeff Agala.

Definitely worth a read, if you've got the time.

Is it awful that I'm considering going out and buying a brand new, game-capable computer just for the sake of playing Don't Starve?  What's that?  Hawken and Battlefield 4 and others would like a word?

Yeah... yeah, that's cool.  But what I really want to try is Don't Starve.



I should probably just buy a new computer.  Y'know, to be sure.

Techland not involved in future of Dead Island, concentrating on new IPs.


There's a great write-up on Techland's next-gen Dying Light over at Eurogamer, which gives a bit of additional insight into the game's systems (there are no character classes, just one large pool of skills to customize your character with) and gameplay (jump and grab ledges, shimmy up telephone poles and slide under gaps on the run), but the most interesting part of the article may be the indication that the Dead Island developer has pulled an Insomniac Games and now wishes to own the intellectual properties they create. 

When asked why their latest first-person open-world zombie game doesn't bear the name Dead Island, Techland's Blazej Krakowiak said this:
'"Dead Island is Deep Silver's IP, you have to ask them about that" - we (Eurogamer) did, and they declined to comment.'
Krakowiak was very clear that Techland isn't working on anything related to a Dead Island sequel - perhaps a sign that they have abandoned previous publishing partner Deep Silver.  Dying Light is set to be published by Warner Bros., and it's worth noting that Techland's other new game - the due-out-this-year Hellraid - does not yet have a publisher. 

It had damn well better get one - I'm really looking forward to this: 


When asked about the project's lack of solid partners, Techland marketing director Pawl Kopinski responded. 
"We're financing the entire production ourselves, so we don't need any external funds and a publisher. On the other hand, at some stage we'll be talking with publishers, distributors, and we'll see who will propose a partnership that won't impact Hellraid in a negative way. We just have an idea that we want to sell with no external interference."
-source-
Wow... a studio which owns their own IP but also feels it's important to maintain their own, original vision for the products they put their stamp on.  Is anyone at Insomniac paying attention to this?

Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta actually released, is terrible.

Remember this? 


Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta is said to be the first PS3 title ever developed in Saudi Arabia.  It popped up in the media when it was announced as a multi-multi-multi-platform title two years ago, was immediately denounced as a deeply sub-par attempt to cash in on the success of Uncharted, and I've heard nothing more of it until today - when a few reviews appeared on the 'net.

It's getting hammered by critics, who find fault with everything from the presentation to the play to the bang for your bucks.  Based on what we were shown in 2011, I'm not surprised, and - while I take no pleasure in the mistakes of an ambitious, young studio - I find myself nonetheless stroked by tendrils of warming schadenfreude to witness the comeuppance of such blatant coattail-riding rip-offery.

The only two reviews I can find in English insist Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta is available on PSN - and I'll be honest, I'd put down five bucks just to bear witness to the horror - but, at the very least, it doesn't seem to be on the North American PSN store.

Lucky us!  It's a four-gig download, ten bucks and an hour long. Haaah!

Aw - but look! - the dev was super-nice about the IGN review in the comments.  Now I feel bad for feeling so good about his game's badness.
"Well, I guess we have to work extra hard on Episode 2 of Unearthed. 
Thank you for the review Mufaddal, we will analyze every aspect you mentioned along with other site reviews and work on addressing them for Episode 2 inshallah. 
There is now way we can make it to better results in the future without your support, and support is not only by saying good things that will make us happy but about pointing out the negatives to make us better. 
Ahmad Jadallah
Director of Development - Unearthed Writer and Director
Semaphore"
 Extra hard, Ahmad.  Extra, extra, extra hard.  Start with a font change.  You'll beat Naughty Dog yet!

Gaze deeply into the One's satin finish in this interactive 3D model.

Click the cube to start. Your mouse wheel controls the zoom - click and drag to rotate the camera.



Very cool.

-sketchfab-

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Care for some Wolfenstein: The New Order gameplay?

Here you go!

New Hellraid details!

Swish!  In a Techland game, this is the equivalent of "nothin' but net." 

Techland put up a short Q&A for its upcoming PS3/360 multiplayer fantasy RPG brawler, offering some cool new details.  For example, Hellraid will have four playabale classes - Warrior, Mage, Paladin and Rogue.  Pretty standard stuff - screenshots!




And here's the full Q&A from Hellraid's official site.
Q: What is Hellraid?
A: We’re calling Hellraid a first-person co-op slasher. We invented this genre to capture the idea behind our game which blends elements of classic hack & slash titles with a more advanced combat system based on timing and precision, RPG’s, shooters and multiplayer games into one unique experience seen in very immersive, first-person perspective.  
Q: Will gamers experience Hellraid only in co-op? What is the main difference between playing solo and in co-op? 
A: Hellraid can be experienced both in single-player and in co-operation. While playing solo you explore the world, complete quests, gather loot and develop your character. In co-operation tension rises when you struggle to achieve mission goals while competing with your friends for points granted for each kill, team-plays and automatically generated challenges throughout the game.  
Q: What does the gameplay in Hellraid look like?
A: In Hellraid you travel between levels using a web of magic portals. Each level can be played an unlimited number of times to complete the story campaign, side quests and to defeat forces of evil with friends while competing for experience, points, rewards and places on leaderboards. During the game players can use a variety of melee, ranged and magical weapons. Combat is expanded with a set of unique active skills for each character class which gives the team additional tactical capabilities while searching for treasure, completing objectives, avoiding deadly traps, fighting the hordes of enemies and boss battles.  
Q: Will gamers be able to develop their characters, or customize the weapons and armor? 
A: Each of the four character classes available in Hellraid - Warrior, Mage, Paladin and Rogue - will have their own skill tree that can be developed during the game. Along with that players can customize their weapons using an advanced crafting system or change their combat capabilities and appearance with armor that can be bought in shops, traded between the players or found during the game.  
Q: Who or what is Game Master? 
A: Game Master is a complex system inspired by pen and paper role-playing games that makes each play through of Hellraid a different, completely new experience. In co-operation mode, Game Master carefully selects competitive challenges for players and awards the best ones at the end of each level. It changes where and how you and your friends complete quests, placement, numbers and types of enemies you encounter as well as deploying treasure chests and loot.  
Q: Will Game Master work in single-player as well? 
A: Yes, Game Master will alter the experience in single-player the same way it does in co-op but without the competitive challenges which are unique for playing with your friends. 
Q: How long is Hellraid and when it will be released? 
A: Thanks to Game Master and the varied experiences that it provides, Hellraid will give players hundreds of hours of pure fun. The game will be released in 2013 for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Can't wait.  Nobody does first-person slashin' like Techland.

Man, between this, Rayman Legends, Dragon's Crown and The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, August is gonna' be pretty packed.  ...I wonder if Declassified is going to suck?  Reading preview articles for it kinda' makes me want to go play Mass Effect 3 again.

Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games Parts 1 and 2.





I skipped the first part of this, but I particularly liked how she circled the point around in Part 2 to explain how the tropes she explores reinforce negative male stereotypes as well.

Rayman Legends confirmed for Vita.



Yay!  The rumor was true!

The Last of Us gets season pass, single-player DLC.


Here's the important bits: The season pass is $20.  It includes both single-player and multi-player DLC packs (one single-player, two multi-player). The season pass also comes with five bonuses - crafting, healing and 9mm reload speed upgrades, a rifle clip capacity upgrade and Grounded - an "exclusive" ninety minute making-of documentary.

I'll admit... I'm rather interested in that documentary.

The press release also promises more info on the game's multiplayer "over the next couple of days."

Don't forget - three more days 'till the demo on the God of War: Ascension disc unlocks!

BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend is sooo good-looking.


...and impossible to find decent screenshots of - but it's stunning in the same way Rayman Origins managed it - gorgeous, gigantic and beautifully-animated pixel-perfect sprites.

BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend for the Vita is this week's addition to the PlayStation+ instant games collection - it's free!  You'll need around 3GB to download it, but it's pretty damned delicious.

Also in Awesome Fighting Game news, did you hold off on buying Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown when Chamberlain and I explained how awesome it was last year?  If so, now's the time - one of the sales in today's PSN update is for VF5.

You can buy the vanilla game for just five bucks - and if you're the vain type who wants to dress up your characters (like me!), you can buy the Complete Edition for fifteen.  Seriously.  That's the only difference between VF5:Final Showdown and VF5:Final Showdown Complete Edition - DLC costumes for the characters.

C'monnn... you know you wanna' try it... and for five bucks, you can afford to be wrong, right?

I suggest Sarah Bryant for a starter character - Flamingo stance is all kinds of fun.

Aw. That sucks, Insomniac.


I'm not saying Fuse sucks, Insomniac.  I wouldn't know - I haven't played it ('cause the demo sucked) - but it sucks that... this is the product of your first-ever game on a non-Sony platform ever, and it's getting hammered by critics.

This was your shot, guys.  This could have been your Mirror's Edge, your Dead Space, your Wet.  This could have been something beautiful and original and... heck, maybe Fuse is the game your entire team felt incredibly passionate about and inspired by.

But looking at these reviews - and comparing them to your past efforts - Fuse didn't end up being your anything.  It's as if you didn't ask what game you wanted to make, but what game you thought people wanted to play.  Like Dead Space 3.
"Whether it's true or not, Fuse does feel every bit like another victim of the heavily focus-tested, leader following, perpetually terrified mainstream game industry. It's every cloying and desperate element of the retail console market, brought together -- fused, if you will -- to create a factory standard example of a game that tries to be everything the hypothetical mainstream consumer drools over, and ends up as nothing remarkable...That's Fuse in a nutshell."
-the Destructoid review-
'Course, that's Jim Sterling talking, so take it with a grain of salt - but he is describing what Fuse looks like (and the demo felt like) to me.

I'm sorry, Insomniac.  It's just... a shame. I really loved your worlds, your games and your characters - and not too long ago, either.


Here's hopin' you get another shot at it. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Dragon's Crown trailer.



Ugh, I can't believe I still have to wait two months to play this.  Oh well... I guess I can make do with Remember Me, The Last of Us and Muramasa Rebirth.

...I guess.  This is going to be so gorgeous on an HDTV. Vanillaware's first HD game!  Eee!

[update]  Ugh, this wonderful extended preview article from Game Informer is not helping with my total lack of patience.  Definitely worth a read. [/update]

The Scrolls launch trailer.

A launch trailer for an open beta.  Pretty cool.



Scrolls, if you've forgotten, is the next thing from Minecraft developer Mojang - having survived an attempt from Bethesda to block its release because "Scrolls" was somehow too close to "The Elder Scrolls" - and is a rather pleasant-looking card battle game.

It'll be available on June 3rd for $20 - here's a handy guide they've set up if your curiosity is not yet sated.

#PS4NoDRM #PS4USEDGAMES


Have you seen this?  Heard about this?

A Twitter campaign has been launched from this NeoGaf post, urging gamers to let Sony know how they feel about the possibility of Xbone-style digital rights management on the PS4.   (On a side note, man I'm glad we're not calling it "the One".)

I have no idea what volume of Tweets has been generated with the #PS4NoDRM and @PS4USEDGAMES hashtags, but the sentiments seem to echo our own:


Internet campaigns happen all the time - several times a day, every day - and rarely have an impact.  What's interesting is the theory that Sony let Microsoft announce their used games solution simply to observe the popular reaction to it, and perhaps alter their plans accordingly.

...I'm still not convinced that they will - if I were any of their third-party publishing partners (Activision, Electronic Arts, Square Enix, Ubisoft), I'd be pushing them with all the force I could muster to get DRM on the PS4.

But what's most interesting in this story isn't that a bunch of vocals on the Internet started Tweeting at Sony.  What's interesting is that Sony responded.


John Koller, Director of Hardware Marketing for PlayStation.


Nick Accordino, Associate Project Manager, SCEA.


Scott Rhode, PlayStation Software Product Development Head for Sony Worldwide Studios America.  'Course you never know what's sarcasm on the 'net.


Sahud Ahmad, SCEE Senior Business Development Manager (he's the guy who spearheads the PS4 campaign to get indie developers onboard).

Man it's gonna' be an interesting E3.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Three Things.


Thing The First
Hotline Miami's PS3/Vita port looks to be locked at 60fps.  That is actually the most interesting news to appear today - unless you count that ridiculous Curiosity thing.  Molyneux needs to stop drinking his own Kool-Aid.

Which is just as gross as it sounds.  I hope Hotline Miami gets a release date soon - I'm lookin' forward to that one.


Thing The Second
If you, like me, bought God of War: Ascension - I hope you held on to it.  Not that I'd hold it against you for letting it go - it was rather disappointing - but because this Friday, May 31st, is when the demo for The Last of Us on the GoW: Ascension disc unlocks.

Can't.  Frickin'.  Wait.  Best E3 hyper ever.


Thing The Third
Gravity Rush is still awesome.

If you have a Vita and you have not yet played Gravity Rush on it, you have made a grave error that you need to see corrected as soon as possible.

G'night.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Reflections on the Xbox One reveal.


What's new is always a little scary - and even a moderately pragmatic examination of Microsoft's latest console announcement offers plenty of reason for fear - but there may indeed be a silver lining, and cause for hope. 

Now, we're pissed off, to be sure.  The lack of concrete information, the sense that the platform marginalizes its core audience, a new generation of digital rights management and a creepy camera that's always on...

Well, to start, Microsoft's messaging could have been better thought-out, and a bit more clear. 


We've all done a lot of complaining about the Xbox One reveal this week.  Prior to the event, rumors - mostly negative - were swirling around the console, from suggestions that it will require a constant internet connection to block used games to the idea that it would somehow be less powerful than Sony's console.

With all this scary buzz threatening the platform, the eyes of the gaming community - filled to the brim with glistening hope - turned to Microsoft for answers.

What are the hardware's specs?  They didn't talk about that, beyond throwing out "eight gigs" of nondescript RAM.

Does it block used games?  They didn't say.

Does it require a constant internet connection?  Microsoft left that un-addressed.

The One was swirling with concepts and ideas well before Microsoft unveiled it - and their complete failure to listen to their own console's buzz and address those questions clearly, with straight black-and-white answers was... a misstep.

Compounding this is how profoundly mixed the messages have been following the event.  Gaming journalists wanted the same answers we did - and when a journalist from Magazine A asked Microsoft Executive A, they got an answer.  The problem being, when Journalist B asked Microsoft Executive B the same question, they got a different answer - and so on, and so on, until no one's quite sure what the deal is.

If a gamer were searching for answers this past week, they'd find articles screaming sensational headlines tied to a quote from one Microsoft exec or another which had then been updated two or three times with clarifying and more-confusing quotes from other executives.

How cool will the Xbox One be?  We have no fucking idea.


The used games thing seems to be the biggest bone of contention, so let's start there.  How does it work?  No one is a hundred per cent sure - not even Microsoft itself, as it seems the actual policies surrounding the One's used solution are currently in a state of flux.  No one is giving the same answer, because there isn't one answer yet.  That all hasn't been finalized and hammered out - so they say - but is that true?

Why didn't GameStop's stock take a plunge after the announcement?  (Well, it did dip - but not much.)  Because they were already aware of the One's systems, and are part of the team (even that article had multiple ever-more-vague updates). Which is kinda' scary.  With Microsoft getting a cut of used game sales, their publishing partners getting a cut of used game sales and GameStop getting its share, one has to wonder what a used game will actually be worth to the consumer.

You can bet your ass whatever GameStop has to pay to activate the copy of CoD: Ghosts you traded in in order to sell it on to the next customer, it will be a fraction of what your friend would have to pay his Xbox One if you just handed it off to him and he expects to play it in his system, on his profile.

I worry that gamers will really be getting the short end of this stick.  And don't get me wrong, Microsoft has a responsibility to its shareholders to bleed us for everything we're worth - but an important part of that relationship is feeling like we're getting a fair deal in the process.

The scariest part is, we just don't know how much that's about to change - or even if it will change in a way that actually has an impact on our day-to-day handling of games (for example, Chamberlain, if the GameStop partnership is true - which it probably is - GameFly will still work just fine).

And for those Sony stalwarts like myself, don't go feeling all high-and-mighty yet.  Sony has repeatedly dodged the question of how the PS4 will handle used games - it's entirely possible they just let Microsoft introduce the concept to take all the heat before stepping up and admitting they intend to do the exact same thing.

Call of Duty: Ghosts

I'll be honest, the scariest thing to me is the idea that the system must connect to Xbox Live once per day in order to authorize your account and all the content on your box.  Which actually means if your Xbox One can't connect to Live in that window, you're disallowed from playing the content you purchased (only one update), and will be unable to play it until a connection is reestablished.

This concept presumes that the Xbox One - and support for it - will last for as long as one could hope.  Which ignores precedent. (I saw a quote from a Microsoft executive this past week who literally said Xbox Live would exist and be available "forever."  Which is insane.)

Anyone who hung on to an original Xbox after the launch of the 360 can attest to the support Microsoft offers their out-of-date platforms - or, specifically, lack thereof - and when your One can no longer sign into Live... you're done with your One.

I don't know about you, but the idea of a gaming platform that I could invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in suddenly becoming inert is... unappealing.  For what assurances can any console manufacturer provide?

The Dreamcast likely had ambitions of supporting the platform for a good decade, but that didn't work out - and it wasn't because Sega didn't want to or because the games were sub-par - just the opposite.

Shit happens, even to corporations as large as Microsoft and its Xbox division - and even if it never happens, Microsoft has a precedent of abandoning the support of older hardware when it moves on to a new generation.  Simply taking Microsoft at their word and examining their history renders the long-term (post-next-gen) value of the Xbox One as zero.

That's terrifying.

-source-

And yes, I find the idea of an always-on, always-connected camera facing my bed or living room more than a little creepy.  (Kinect must be turned on at all times for the One to function.)

"My iPhone has two cameras in it, and no one's afraid of it," is a fair counterpoint.  But your iPhone wasn't made by a software giant with a history of criminally vulnerable and easy-to-crack operating systems.  The One is one good hack away from several major lawsuits.

There is a fine and sagacious rationale for including Kinect with every Xbox One - every developer making games for the system will know, 100%, that their audience will be able to use the gesture system - but, at the same time, this is rather like tying the life of your console to a Dualshock.

If the One can't function without the Kinect 2.0, what happens when the Kinect stops working?

Is it okay to worry about that?  Is it fair to worry about it, given the reliability of Microsoft's past hardware offerings?

You'd be crazy not to worry about that.  And then there's the TV thing.


We were all pretty damned exasperated that Microsoft, in unveiling its next-generation games console, did not actually show any games until 37 minutes into its one-hour presentation - going on and on about TV functionality, TV programming and TV partnerships - and even once they got to the games, no gameplay or genuine proof of life was shown.

In fact, we're all pretty exasperated with almost everything surrounding the One's reveal - but that seems to be just us.


This is the poll Kotaku ran on the day of the One's reveal.  Even assuming the type of crap one can expect of online polls, it's a pretty clear condemnation of what Microsoft showed. We hated what we saw, for the most part.

It's important to note the "we," though.  "We" are the folks who read and write video game blogs.  We follow the industry news and were perfectly aware in 2012 that new consoles would be announced and likely available in 2013.  We know this game.  We're invested.

The world at large, though?  The folks Microsoft actually cares about?  They like it!  They like it a lot, if the positive buzz in the general (non-enthusiast) press is to be believed, even if it does feel misinformed and perhaps even disingenuous when a clearly one-sided article from Forbes notes the "new" feature of being able to control the Xbox with your voice in a list of eight reasons to buy the Xbox One.

Joe Sixpack loves Call of Duty and watching ESPN.  I'm sorry, but that's just the "popular" in popular culture at work - CoD makes a few billion dollars every year, and Football is far more important to the public in general than it is to us.  If you were to gather everyone who reads Eurogamer, Polygon, Kotaku, Destructoid and IGN in a field, you'd probably have less than 100,000 people.

The Xbox division would go bankrupt if we were the only people who bought their console, and so we're not the people they have any intention of trying to please - but they may end up doing so, regardless.


Above are six major, highly-anticipated third-party titles which are definitely, one-hundred-per-cent coming to the Xbox One.  No doubt about it.  These are games which have had their hype building for several months, if not years in Destiny's case - but none of them saw so much as a mention at the announcement event.  And did anyone else find it weird that Dying Light was announced and confirmed for Xbox One the very next day?

As if Techland were waiting for the One reveal just so they could come forward and admit they were working on a title for it.

Microsoft - why on earth would you squander this?

There is built-in excitement and wide-eyed optimism for those games - why not call up Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Deep Silver and Warner Bros to say "we're announcing a console in May, could you put together a thirty-second trailer that ends with a line about how your game is coming to Xbox One?  ...maybe how it's better with Kinect?"

You had forty minutes of talking about TV crap in that presentation.  An additional ninety seconds of games wouldn't have killed you.

Why not reach out to Techland and say "we want you to announce your next major game at our console presser?"

I have no idea.  Because the Xbox One will have all the major next-gen games you're excited about (unless the game is inFamous: Second Son or Killzone: Shadow Fall.  And, at the very least, everyone who's gone hands-on with it agrees the new controller is pretty cool.


And yeah, we don't care about TV, but c'mon - most people who watch Netflix at home are doing it on their PS3 - a video game console.  Consoles are already used for what Microsoft has planned - it just wants the One to be the best option for it, even if that ambition is perhaps a case of putting the chicken before the egg.

Microsoft settled in to that ambition years ago - a half-decade ago, if industry rumblings are to be believed - when they decided the One was the future of console gaming, and designed an operating system that was somehow a hybrid of three operating systems in order to see their vision of a profoundly-multitasking machine through.  They locked in the 8GB of RAM years ago - if industry rumblings are to be believed - in the hopes of out-maneuvering Sony, and the "different architecture" of the Xbox One is due entirely to managing the bandwidth limitations of the DDR3 RAM they chose.

The system's innards are no longer as simple and elegant as a home PC, but look - neither is the PS3, and its library is frickin' awesome.  And yes, next gen the Xbox will be slightly less-powerful than its Sony counterpart - but the Xbox has been slightly less-powerful than its Sony competition since the dawn of the current gen, and nobody minded then.  In fact, the most-powerful console has never won a console generation.

The absolute worst-case scenario for Gamers is that, in its early days, the One may see sub-par ports due to its more-complex architecture, in the same way the PS3 did in '07-'10.  Otherwise, chances are good it will be just as healthy and robust as one would hope.

As for the rest - all the questions whose answers remain unclear, all the edginess around their used games solution - we'll have to wait.

And, just for the sake of being supportive, we'll have to hope - that when Don Mattrick takes the stage at E3, he is armed will all that and more.

Along with a next-gen Halo.