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[Update: Microsoft says there's no price-cuts inbound for the Xbox One]
All the rave recently has been about a bunch of rumors dropped by an alleged insider from Microsoft who went onto Neogaf dropping rumor bombs like American fighter planes bombing Kosovo. The biggest rumor to catch traction and create a ton of discussion lately, is one about a disc-less Xbox One, or what I like to call “Old ball-less”.
The circumcised unit is expected to run at a $399 price-point, and the leak has caused Microsoft enough heart-ache that they are legally seeking the head of the chap who leaked all the info.
In regards to the dick-less Xbox One, there has been a lot of media pundits seemingly talking up the “good” points of consumers losing the ability to watch DVDs, watch Blu-rays, listen to music, stream media content from discs or, most importantly, use the drive to actually play video games.
One site, O Canada, does their best Stephen Colbert impersonation of someone pretending to be serious while satirically pitching a position they can't possibly stand by... or at least, that's what I hope they were trying to do.
A couple of sites are chalking up “the good points” for not having a disc drive: that it frees Microsoft up to pursue their all digital future and provide “Steam-like” sales (although the company has never said this was their intention, and even now, they don't offer the same level of discounts on older Xbox 360 games and they never offered those kind of discounts for digital PC games before they shut down the Windows Marketplace).
None of the sites seem to consider that there's been a recent thing about net neutrality, as reported by Slate, where data caps and streaming costs may completely hamper that "all digital future" for anyone who isn't willing to pay through their wallet-hole until it turns anoxeric. But of course, media hates non-rich people, so.. what else would you expect?
Essentially, there's this apologists mentality that the $399, dick-less Xbox One would somehow be comparatively competitive with the $399 PS4, which could, by that time, at least offer disc-based backwards compatibility for PSX and PS2 games. Having access to a massive library of three generations of games via an optical disc drive for $399 just stomps all over a buck-naked Xbox One that stepped outside without properly getting dressed.
CNET, after confirming with another senior Microsoft employee that the cheaper model is on the way, tries to paint a picture that the industry isn't ready for Anti-Consumerism: The Box, stating...
“It's difficult to understate what a discless version of the Xbox One at such a price point -- one that would then reroute all game purchases through the Xbox Live marketplace -- would be for the industry. It's a rosy picture for consumers, meaning games accessible earlier and easier that also run faster on an included drive with twice as much space as the current model. From Microsoft's end, it would be emblematic of the console market's aspirations to transition to the neatly organized ecosystem of Steam.”
That whole paragraph made me cringe more than someone who reads one of my analogies about the great, hidden acting talents of Brian Bosworth while they suffer deep constipation after having a hernia operation.
The main problem is that vapid lines like “run faster” mean nothing when the Xbox One already has to install the entire contents of a disc and run it from the hard drive. You know, the same as downloading a game and running it from the hard drive?
There's also this strange, rich-American fascination with giant, monopoly-oriented corporations beholden to shareholders adopting the hippy-esque consumer culture of Valve and Steam. Even lobotomized bums know that a corporation like Microsoft would never adopt “Steam-like” sales when the their enterprise culture has never adopted that kind of sales methodology (and there's nothing stopping them from doing that right now) and their game division never adopted that kind of sales methodology (and there's nothing stopping them from doing it right now).
It's a strange thing seeing people spin news for a giant corporation whose main goal with their original policies was to completely strip consumers of their rights and moved toward a monopolized walled garden for curated digital content and sales.
Where do people go to get a swiff of this magical unicorn turd that clouds reality and changes sustainable market trends into a fantasy world of “what ifs?” and “never-going-to-be”s? I might like to get a whiff myself so I can understand how people can come to these outlandish conclusions.
Heck, you know you're off the deep end when someone like John Riccitiello, former CEO of Electronic Arts, starts saying that Microsoft's approach to DRM wasn't going to turn into long-term success. Well, duh.
Ultimately, it boils down to gamers. What do you think about Xbox One: Vasectomy Edition? Would you be willing to pay $399 for a game console that can't play movies, discs, music or games and restricts the use of used games, rentals or game lending? Or more importantly, would you be willing to give up your entire library when the online service shuts down and you can't use any games on the system once the online store becomes inaccessible?
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