UPDATE:

Microsoft has changed their policies!
No more 24hr connect (just one connect when activating the xbox) and used games/lending is now enabled. However, they’ve removed some features like the one time install (discs will need to be in the tray).


Contents:

Quick Overview:^ Back to top ^

PS4

Xbox One

List Price

$399

$499

PSN/XBL

$49.99/year

Required for multiplayer gaming

$59.99/year

Required for multiplayer gaming

Required for media apps

Camera

$59

$110[included]

Region Locking (playing games from other territories)

Region-free

Region Locked

Design

An ugly box

ps4

An ugly box
xbox one

Network (PSN/XBL)

Info Here

Info Here

(Free games only until launch)

(Some) Exclusives

- The Dark Sorcerer

- The Order 1866

- Infamous: Second Son

- Killzone: Shadow Fall

- Indie games

- New Halo

- Ryse: Son of Rome

- Project Spark

- Dead Rising 3

- Minecraft

Timed (early release):
- MGS 5

Streaming Integration

Ustream

Twitch.tv

Used Games/Lending

Trade in Games at retail

Sell to someone

Lend to a friend

Regardless of 1st or 3rd party games

Trade-in at “participating retailers” only

Can give game to friend (must have been XBL friends for at least 30 days. Can only give once & you can’t use anymore)

Trade-in/”Gifting” must be “enabled” by game publisher

Publishers may set up fees

No loaning

No renting

Online Authentication (DRM)

Do not need internet connection every 24 hours

Must connect to internet every 24hrs

“Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection”

Vlog Version

Note: The Xbox One’s main demographic is American, so some of my points may be irrelevant in other parts of the world. I still love you other-landers <3 I’m just a dumb American, ignorant to your ways. I’m also operating under the assumption that buying/building an HTPC is not an option for you, because I do highly recommend that as an alternative to nextgen consoles. If you’re interested in the switch to PC, but intimidated by the prospect, please feel free to drop me a line! I would be more than happy to help you on your way to enlightenment ;)

I’m going to be frank here; I vehemently oppose the Xbox One. I’ll explain why, in far too great detail, but the TL;DR version is this: In my opinion, if you care about “consumer rights”, developers, the gaming industry as a whole, and where they–and we–are all headed, you will refuse to purchase the “nextgen” Xbox.

My target audiences here are the fence-sitters and carefree gamers. I don’t at all mean use those labels in a condescending way, what I mean is that I don’t expect the Average Joe/Jane to go out and research the policies behind their video game machines. Most people just want to play games, and that makes perfect sense to me. I also understand that Microsoft’s target demographic is the mainstream, white-picket-fence family. They want to become the centerpiece of the American living room and the future of entertainment systems, and most of those people are pretty apt to let them. If I can do anything to sway those demographics, I’m gonna damn well try, because I’m not drinking the Xbox One Kool-Aid, and I hope you’ll listen to my reasons why.

Why the Xbox One is Not Your Ideal “All-in-One” System ^ Back to top ^

The big “advantage” to the Xbox One that I see being touted around the internet is its all-in-one functionality. “ERMAHGERD! It’s a cable box!* And a video streaming system!** And a gaming console!*** YOLO!!” Let’s ease off the gas and the memes there, buddy.

It’s a cable box!*

*

- Well, no, it’s not; you still need a cable box. Ah, actually, you need a cable box from a supported provider (small print #1 at the bottom). Of course, with oligopolies rampant in the US, the likelihood that your provider won’t be supported is slim, but it’s still a possibility. (In the U.S., of the top ten cable providers, the top two–Comcast and Time Warner–hold 34.4 million subscribers, while the remaining eight providers combined total 22 million subs.)

I’m sure the XBOne Guide is much prettier than your supported provider’s cable box interface, but it’s still merely pasted over it, using pass-through HDMI from the cable box to the Xbox, not directly attaching to the Xbox via coaxial cable. As the linked article states,

If you’re lucky enough to own a newer cable box, you’ll get to change channels directly through the HDMI connection, but most people will find themselves using the One’s included IR blaster to control their cable or satellite boxes — a failure-prone one-way communication system that stubbornly refuses to die.

Another issue that hasn’t been addressed is the exclusion of DVR. If you find a great show while browsing Xbox One Guide and want to set up a recording schedule for it, you’ll still have to switch to your cable box interface. Same goes if you want to watch said recorded show. Again, as the article states, unless you’re watching live TV, Xbox One isn’t going to be of much use to you because there is no way to properly interface it with your DVR.

Cable is Not the Future of TV^ Back to top ^

Those issues aside, let’s take a step backward and ask whether or not making cable the focal point of the Xbox One was a sound, forward-thinking decision in the first place… I don’t have cable. The reason I don’t have cable is not because I live in a cave in the wilderness, it’s because I got rid of it. I may not be in the majority (yet), but go ahead and ask yourself if you know many, if any, people that have not yet subscribed to one or more video streaming services (Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, etc). The answer is probably no.

Netflix started booming around 2009, a few years after the last gen consoles released, and as of May 2013, Netflix subscribers totaled 29.2 million. Remember those cable stats? At the end of 2012, the two largest providers in the US had combined subscriptions numbering 34.4 million. In a few short years, Netflix has permeated the American living room and become a household name, and similar services such as Hulu Plus have blossomed on the network TV front.

It would be naive to pretend there aren’t drawbacks and possible downfalls to streaming-only entertainment in the future, but that’s a separate issue entirely. On the contrary, it would be plain ignorant to overlook the fact that streaming services are at the very least a significant threat to TV as we know it. In my opinion, it’s foolish to think that cable television will still be dominant, perhaps even relevant, at the end of the next generation’s 6 to 8 year life cycle, and this is a massive oversight by Microsoft.

It’s a video streaming system!**

**

- All right, I concede to this point. HAHA JUST KIDDING! Let me shit on your parade by reminding you that you need a subscription to Xbox Live Gold in order to access your video provider of choice, to which you are also subscribed. Subscribception? As a side note, Sony has announced that you do not need PSN+ to access media apps on the PS4.

If your main concern is having a machine that will stream video to your TV, there are plenty of great alternatives, and you can check them out here. And yes, that list does include AppleTV… I am recommending an Apple product over a Microsoft product. That right there should convey the sincerity of my arguments. Alternatively, if your concern is having a video streaming machine that doubles as a gaming console, then don’t mind my innocently suggestive glances in the direction of the Playstation 4.

It’s a gaming console!***

***

- Enough about TV and video, Xbox is about the games!! Halo! Gears of War! The titles we grew up on that wove their way into our nostalgic little hearts. It breaks my heart to say it, but if you really love them, you’ve gotta let them go. At least for now. Microsoft’s policies regarding the Xbox One have perverted the console gaming experience so badly that I don’t even know where to begin criticizing them.

Game Renting/Lending/Trade-in/Secondhand^ Back to top ^

Per Microsoft’s licensing page, game loaning and renting will be impossible at the time of the Xbox One launch, but they’re “exploring possibilities”, which probably means figuring out how to make the most money off of it. Whoops, sorry, that last bit was subjective, in case you hadn’t noticed.

You can trade your games in, but at “participating retailers” only. You can also give your game to a friend, but only if they’ve been on your Xbox Live friends list for more than 30 days, and once you give them your game you can never play it again. You can also only do this once, so when the friend you gave it to is finished, they can’t let the next friend play it. Oh, and I shan’t forget to mention that publishers will have the ability to set up fees for trade-ins and giving games to friends. Publishers can also choose whether or not you’re allowed to do any of these things in the first place. Again, this is all stated on xbox.com’s licensing page.

I’m just going to shuffle away quietly while leaving the PS4’s policy on renting/loaning/trade-in over here on the table.

Sony

Internet Connection and DRM^ Back to top ^

The long controversial rumor of an “always-on” Xbox One has been partially debunked; no, you don’t need a constant internet connection to play your games, but you do need to connect and authenticate every 24 hours. The Xbox One is also region-locked, which wouldn’t normally be a discussion point, except for the fact that the PS4 is not, nor does it require authentication every 24 hours.

If your response to the points I’ve raised is “meh”, here are some questions for you: Would you put up with that asshattery in another entertainment medium? The closest analogy I can make is to the movie industry. If you had to connect to the internet once a day in order to play DVD/Blu-Ray, would you be okay with that? What if you have a Blu-Ray player, but it doesn’t support playing DVDs, so you have to buy your movies all over again? (Neither nextgen console is backwards compatible) Even better, let’s say you watched a movie on your DVD player, and from then on it wouldn’t play in any other machine. Sounds awesome, right? Of course not, it sounds absurd. Nobody would put up with that. It’s acceptable in gaming because we let it be.

The movie industry hasn’t collapsed from lack of DRM. Granted, games don’t have theater releases with which to make back a lot of their cash, but I think my overall point still stands. The gaming industry is too obsessed with suffocating consumers and treating them like criminals. Digital Rights Management is the gaming equivalent of an abusive parole officer assigned to a law-abiding citizen who may or may not end up commiting a crime. But I digress, DRM is a massive, controversial, and different issue entirely.

Policy Comparison Arguments^ Back to top ^

I’m gonna go ahead and bring up a common pro-Xbox One counter-argument because, while it’s valid, the reason it’s valid is the very reason I think it’s most important to stand our ground when it comes to our treatment as console-gaming-consumers.

PC gaming includes a lot of the nasty policies that I’ve listed above. For the most part, you can’t really loan games or trade them in, and even the much beloved Steam has an online authentication policy. So why is it so bad that Microsoft is doing it with the Xbox One? I’m not going to compare PC gaming to console gaming, because you really can’t. While that’s maybe possibly probably a veiled PC Elitist comment, what I really mean is that the main advantage of having a console is its lack of these features. Nor is it very relevant for consoles to have those kinds of restrictions. How often are console games pirated? It’s certainly not as easy or prevalent as it is in PC gaming. Frankly, all these policies really do is virtually eliminate the market for used games.

Consoles are great because they’re accessible, low-maintenance and relatively portable. You can easily pack up your 360 or PS3 and head out to a cabin in the woods (Why you would go out into the woods to play video games is beyond me, but at least you have the option. It’s your life, I don’t judge), or bring it with you if you’re serving abroad in the military.  If your internet is down, you can still pop a disc into your 360 and pass the time with Cortana and Master Chief. Not so with the Xbox One.

I think it’s awesome that Microsoft has moved to x86 architecture to take advantage of the power of PC and of their experience with it. Hell, the Xbox One is running a version of Windows 8, among a couple other OS’s. If we’re moving towards a console-PC hybrid, we need to set the precedent now, by leaving the draconian methods behind and remaining as flexible and consumer-friendly as possible. That means gritting your teeth, controlling your impulse to make a blind purchase, and saying “no” to Microsoft this Fall.

However, if you’re reading this and you STILL feel that you just can’t live without the Xbox One, I implore you to, at the very least, please, please wait. Wait for a price drop, a sweet bundle deal, an updated console (a la the 360’s Slim), or even for Microsoft to cave on some of its ridiculous policies, just don’t drop your cash at their feet on day one.

In Conclusion (Finally)^ Back to top ^

It’s obvious that large corporations like Microsoft and Sony have their eyes and ears firmly trained on our wallets, and in order to be seen and heard we need to speak a language that they can understand. If the Xbox One tanks on release the way the PS3 “tanked” last gen, it will (hopefully) send Microsoft the right message: that trying to control the console experience with greedy DRM policies, over-hyped TV gimmicks, and blatant disregard for the well-being of consumers is not okay. You need to take that bullshit somewhere else and get it the hell away from my games.

Hopefully I’ve made reasonable points and at least enticed you to consider them, if not changed your mind entirely. I love that gaming is moving from a niche to the mainstream, and that competition between platforms breeds innovation. Video gaming as an entertainment and art form is relatively young. So much has already been done, and so much potential remains… it shouldn’t be stifled by greed. We need to be more responsible as consumers, because we have much more power than we realize. I do believe consoles are a part of the future of our living rooms, but I don’t want to let it come at the expense of what’s best for us and for the industry as a whole.

Additional Thoughts

Some compelling points have been made from the other side, and I’d like to add a few more of my thoughts to address them.

Cloud Computing

Yes, cloud computing has insane potential, but it’s just that: potential. Most of America can’t handle that kind of constant connection or it’s volume (1.5Mbps as stated by Msoft), not to mention the bandwidth and usage caps that many providers are starting to impose. Additionally, game companies are the ones who have to develop in order to take advantage of it. It’s simply too soon to know exactly what they’ll do with it. It very well COULD revolutionize the console, but that’s a big “could”, and still wouldn’t be all that achievable for a few years yet. All the more reason to wait before making your decision/purchase.

I’m Not Affected by Their Policies, My Preference is with Xbox One Games

You may not notice most of the time, and the 24connect/anti-secondhand DRM may not bother you, but I assure you, you ARE affected, however indirectly. The precedent that is set by voting with your wallet and buying an Xbox One, especially this early on, tells Msoft that it’s okay for them to sneak their absurd DRM into this gen. If we tell them it’s okay to do it now, what will they try to pull on us next time?

Microsoft are blatantly disregarding the good of the consumer, whether the consumer realizes it or not. Just look at Xbox President Don Mattrick’s response (at 1:55) to those who say they don’t have the proper internet to use the Xbox One. (Hint: He said “too bad, then get an Xbox 360 instead”) Sidenote: Before joining Msoft, Mattrick was President of Worldwide Studios for our BFFs EA, the virtual arch-nemesis of gaming consumers.

There are much better ways of going about protecting their IP that don’t infringe on our freedom to do as we please with the discs that we’ve purchased. The online pass system implemented this gen is a great example of compromise; you can buy the game used, but you still have to pay a fee to play online. In my opinion, that’s completely reasonable for both the consumer and publisher.

I agree that people should judge for themselves, and if all you care about is which games look cooler, then you’re not the kind of gamer I’m going to get through to. But there are those who are on the fence, or who are interested in making an informed purchase, even if they still choose Xbox One simply because the reasons I’ve listed don’t matter to them. No respect lost for someone who did their research, but still decided that they’re just in it to play some games and have the most fun they can. At least I tried, and at least they took the time to think about it. My whole point is that maybe it’s time to pause for reflection on what it really means when you place that pre-order, and whether we want to let the future generations of gaming be dictated by the publishers’ wants instead of our own.

PS: Jim Sterling makes some excellent points about used games policies.