Saturday, March 29, 2014

Writer Rant: Departure of an XBox Fan Boy

Writer Rant: Departure of an XBox Fan Boy
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 3/29/2014
Written by Dustin Murphy

 Many of us have that day where our favorite console has become a thing of the past. That day to some is a betrayal when you have made your gaming "family" of friends and decide it is time to move onto bigger, better, and tougher things. Mine started in 2005, my parents got me the next vision of gaming, the Microsoft XBox 360. They dropped the cash, brought it home, and gave me it for Christmas. Low and behold after six years I was a die hard fan, playing exclusive franchises such as Halo, Forza, Bioshock, Mass Effect, and a few others. Sadly those franchises began to lose their polish as Microsoft Exclusives. Shortly after we saw Bioshock, Mass Effect, and even Dragon Age depart their exclusivity and or timed content become a thing of the past as Sony and Steam began to pump ahead and once more reignite a console war. With Gears of War on my mind, it was time to once more take the reigns of the awkward thumbstick alignment that Microsoft had made. Of course that was after coping with thirteen failed consoles over the nine year period. 

 In that period I spent time playing only PlayStation exclusives and enjoying them more than I could ever have imagined, dumping hundreds and hundreds of dollars into Microsoft peripherals and of course Microsoft titles for my 360. Some exclusives and some not. I bought charger docks, controllers, hard drives, subscriptions and even stood up against anti-game fan type fan boys and girls. It wasn't till I saw the XBox One release did I realize how little gamer's, journalists, and us as a community seemed to matter in the eyes of Microsoft when Don Matrick took to the Microsoft stage and revealed any console gamer's worst fear - DRM. He confirmed the one thing many of us had not hoped to hear. That Microsoft would lock our games to our consoles, not allow for used games, and would ultimately make us pay to even think of using a game that is used. It was something that made my jaw hit the floor and utter dismay and call the co-founder for B.A.T.G.R., Jesse Olvera, and pretty much curse Microsoft with every ounce of fury in my heart. I denounced Microsoft instantly, swearing I'd never go back, and that I was done being betrayed after that. Let alone the fact I had thirteen XBox's from buying two new ones due to hardware failures and having my original replaced more than once before finally giving it to my little brother. During this grace period though something new struck me with a sincere bit of shock - Sony's PlayStation Vita. Soon after having experienced the Party Chat, online multiplayer, and amazing (compared to PS3's) download speeds, my jaw hit the floor. I was soon experiencing what I had always wanted out of Sony - a better internet support for gaming. Why was this amazing? Well lets read to find out more.

Part 1 - Social Gaming Takes an Amazing Turn -

When my father brought home that beautiful white box for Christmas, my heart did not ache, I received something that had been the talk of the gaming industry; an XBox 360. With it I got my subscription, a 20gb console, and of course a new experience for what I considered high end gaming. It wasn't before long I would make friends, take to Gears of War, and begin to curse at myself or the game in sheer frustration due to the seemingly fine tuned controls. It was there though I began to play games with friends, send messages, and of course private chat. Before long it became a daily thing. Games such as Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas franchise, Ghost Recon, Gears of War, Call of Duty, and more began to follow. My gaming experience on the XBox 360 began to venture forth. It wasn't shortly after did I experience the first part of what began as the Red Ring of Death or RRoD epidemic to consoles. My console ended up as a fatality, the graphics card ended, and so my whiny gamer frustration occurred. Before too long I was once more taking back the reigns of Call of Duty Modern Warfare and chucking grenades out like a kid in a candy store. Frag after frag I would enjoy this as my friends and I laughed at the ludicrous stunts we pulled. Our party chats were full, our Gamerscores were jumping, and so was our hunt to be the top dogs of our gaming aspect. It happened, we took over the Rainbow Six scene like it was nothing. Sure we didn't MLG, but it happened. We were upsetting clans, becoming known, and holding our own.

After years of having gamed offline with my DreamCast, PlayStation 2, PC, and others - I was beginning to enjoy online gaming. After all the while I began to understand why PC gamer's took to services like GameSpy and such like a storm. It was fun, it didn't require a bunch of control flicks, and a boring night with a Little Ceasers pizza. Instead I was finally seeing why gaming was fun with people. Though It began to have its downfall. I began to witness name calling, trolling, modding, and even the ugly side of Online Moderation through Microsoft and of course the game developers themselves. Unfortunately, this still exists. All of it that is. It didn't change my outlook though. I still took to online gaming, laughed night after night, and eventually began to work so I could be useful and enjoy my new hobby. It was then did I realize though that something was amiss. Costs went up, game aspects went down, and of course internet speed requirements went up. That was easily taken care of though over time having found what I needed to do in order to make my XBox work better, but unfortunately came another ten consoles within a seven year span. We did mention the RRoD issue? Well that was all she wrote. It went on, but my adventure did not stop. Instead I got to see my favored console turn into a media box. It allowed me to play games, watch movies, rip music to the hard drive, and jam to my games while chatting with friends. Let alone experience graphics that I never had thought possible in all my days. Even my friends were awestruck when they watched what I did, but the adventure was beginning to come dull. The service seemed to be focused more about music, tv, and well more services. This to me was not what I was interested in. Instead it began to slowly drive me away, pitching my interests elsewhere. I found myself once again hooking up my consoles such as the DreamCast, Nintendo 64, GameCube and of course my Wii. I enjoyed it a lot as the XBox itself had seemed to begin lacking in games as well as entertainment that had fit my interests. I began to find it a bit tedious to be quite sure. Then there was news. Rumors of the upcoming next project arose.

Project Natal. It was something amazing, even as we watched games come to life, and of course Lion Head Studios revealed their first interactive simulator; Project Milo. It was a game that attempted to assure us that gaming would change and we would see the future of interactivity. Sadly we did not. The day never came. Instead we got games that seemed focused on fitness, kids, and nothing truly hardcore for the gaming community that wanted something that made the games more in-depth to them. Instead we got voice controls. Things that only mattered if the command was truly necessary. Games like Mass Effect became easier to micromanage, but after a while it began to die out as well. However, it wasn't before long Microsoft began to whisper something new. We heard them speak out about a new project - Durango (formerly XBox 720 due to movies like Real Steel). This is when it began to fall apart.

Part 2 - Fare thee well Microsoft -

As a gaming journalist, this topic is dangerous, and one that treads on fire and brimstone. After having had my experiences after all the Microsoft confirmations, then back peddling my adventure with Microsoft began to die a slow and painful death. having started to take to the PlayStation Vita and my Nintendo 3DS for gaming as well as my PlayStation 3, my adventure of almost fifteen years with Microsoft began to slowly die a painful death. My XBox Classic was already stuck in the closet top shelf along with its rather short library of games. Sitting, collecting dust, and inevitably withering away. It wasn't before long that my XBox 360 began to do the same; except it never left its TV stand, now it just sits there, sulking at my PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation Vita, and well upsetting enough for it my Nintendo 3DS. It had become a dark day in November of 2013. My XBox Live ran out, I wished my friends farewell and hope to see them soon, gave them my PSN ID, and told them I'll see them when I see them.

That does not go to say I was disgruntled and or distasteful with my departure. Instead it was bittersweet. I felt like I was betraying my favorite franchises from Halo to Forza only to be shortly followed by Alan Wake. All of these said games brought me great memories, new friends, and tales I wouldn't have experienced like I did on the XBox 360 thanks to the social aspects of Party Chat, Kinect video chat, and of course picture messaging the most annoying faces ever. As it began to come to an end, I felt my heart breaking as it seemed betraying my friends seemed to become realistic as we denounced our ability to interact as each of us began to pick sides. Some of us going PlayStation 4, some to XBox One, others to Wii U, and some of course to Steam (PC). It was decided. Some of us would no longer game together. Unfortunately it did become a sad, but true reality. With time I began to settle in, enjoying my new life in the Sony universe with games such as Uncharted, Gravity Rush, and of course the PS Vita exclusive; Toukiden: The Age of Demons. Lets not forget exclusives to PC/PS4 such as Warframe and Blacklight Retribution. However, my leaving Microsoft still was not easy and to this day is still there. Long lost friendships, memories, and of course gaming experiences became treasured memories over the past few months. But, what did I bring in from all of it?

Part 3 - A New Adventure Begins -

Upon leaving Microsoft it was time to pursue PlayStation Plus; the paid membership to exclusive deals and "free" games. Of course free only comes with the subscription, so I openly refer to it as a unlimited rental service, not a big deal. This service has of course lead to game purchases, closed beta's, and even offers that can only be obtained by doing so. With functions such as Party Chat, multiple console cross-play and of course high end graphics, I've yet to come across as disappointed. At 49.99 a year, it has been a great adventure so far with some cross library games for both my PS4 and Vita. Though only time will tell how it goes. With a few of my friends from the past consoles coming over, and a new social aspect group - the times seem good. As for Microsoft? My confession as a long time fan is simple. My trust was betrayed, Microsoft has struck dirt with their choices, and only time will tell if I were to go back or not.

Out of everyone who reads are page it is an interesting take on what people have to say or even think about the new consoles. With this rant of sorts, have you left Microsoft? If not why? Is there a reason that keeps you from doing so? For those of you that have, what's your new poison of choice? PlayStation 4, Wii U, PC or something else? Let me know in the comments. 

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