When I picked up a secondhand Xbone a year ago, I was thinking just use it to play Rare Replay. I’ve picked up additional games for it since then and have also been using it for streaming services that the family’s subscribed to. I’ve even played a bunch of things from Game Pass for a while before and have had plans ready to return to that for one last long session in regards to me not really wanting to buy many new games anymore, given current directions of games and the industry. And this is all thanks to some company that I swear is looking for another major antitrust lawsuit or several.
To essentially have the pocketbook flex to buy another major company that’s falling apart yet still gets a ton of revenue is pretty much a sign of things that were warned with prior signs, like the purchase of Bethesda and all the dozens of other random studio buyouts prior to that. For a company that was a punchline in the console and even general video game space prior, they effectively hold a plurality, if not the majority, of AAA gaming at this point, as a bunch of games that would have released on other consoles or possibly even struck a deal with another console company prior now have to go through Microsoft. That potential has already been discussed, as the eventual Elder Scrolls 6 has been cited as a possible Xbox “exclusive”, and the upcoming Starfield already is.
Long story short, I’m pretty sure this is Microsoft tapping into their Windows wealth to screw over Sony first and foremost. Ever since their weird idea of used game transfers on the Xbone was mocked by Sony and was thankfully not happening after, they’ve probably been planning this. It’s just been compounded by the Xbone performing very poorly in sales, and while Nintendo made up for the Wii U’s sales with another console that took off, the PS5, while barely existing, still looks to be ahead of the Sexbox, also barely existing except for the more budget all-digital model that people seem to leave on shelves. Clearly they don’t want a repeat happening. And even if it does and they end up dropping out of the console market, they can still put their games on the PS5 and Switch and profit from it.
That annoying meme company Epic had a laser focus on removing Steam from the picture and managed to miss the company that’s fittingly been accused of being a monopoly from many others encroaching on things. This might just mean more exclusive deals as long as the V-Bucks keep flowing, and with a Sony partnership, a likelihood of double exclusives, that is ones that show up as PlayStation exclusives also getting a PC deal on their own store, as well as the other way around. And that’s happened multiple times before as it is. Gaming could really work with less exclusives, as one look at the general streaming market shows what mess that becomes as there’s now hundreds if not thousands of streaming options just having some exclusive rights to a particular show, each with their own up-front cost.
It would have been great if Microsoft used their power to kick out the old Activision leadership at least, as that can’t come soon enough, but for now it’s just still the horrible Call of Duty machine as usual. If they do eventually manage to change things for the subsidiary, at least that means there’s more of a chance now for the likes of Crash, Spyro, or Tony Hawk games to happen instead of everything being dissolved just for more Call of Duty. And Blizzard hasn’t really made anything I’ve had much interest in for decades, even pre-Activision. Maybe if they’re planning to buy out Ubisoft next, they could act faster on kicking out the faulty leadership there. Of course making Just Dance a console exclusive would be a bad idea as the Sexbox doesn’t support Kinect, which means phones only like on the PS5 so I hear. And this is also if the European Union itself doesn’t stop this kind of global operation.
And then you still have the consideration of Facebook, or Meta as they want to be called now. Their hold on a lot of things, particularly the VR space in an attempt to own a whole layer of the universe, has already been a concern. Whoever they buy, or whoever buys them if things don’t go well, would end up in a possible major data conspiracy thing. The push for their platforms to be the norm and push any other options out all for the sake of advertising, and sketchy advertising at that, the type that pulls at demographics to shift the format of the world governments themselves. I’m doing whatever I can to not buy into that vision, including down to the VR solutions I get.
There is one more thing in games I’m looking into. As I’ve mentioned before, I foresee another crash in the video game industry, independent of some other potential full economic and societal collapse that could also be on the books, within five or so years of some past year, and I still consider that crash highly likely during this decade if not in that time period. There’s also the possibility of it not being a crash and more of a flattening, that is an industry becoming so complacent that things no longer change and it becomes a mediocre and regular product that is only sustained by delusion of constant repeat customers who only get any new yearly production because others are getting it, and much like many of the most popular mobile games and free-to-play battle royales, all following the exact same format. A crash would allow for a more direct reboot of the industry where it would build up again from indies, but a flattening would be a monolithic roadblock that drowns out any better alternatives with sheer advertising. Such a roadblock could still collapse when word of alternatives spread and aren’t crushed quickly enough, but it would persist as some thing that just keeps existing and drawing people away from better things.
The majority of my game playing is still often older and indie games, with the occasional recent modern thing dropped in, yet not adhering to that entirely to play everything the moment it comes out. So why do I still plan to have Game Pass again for a while and have the materials pretty much ready to start on that? It’s about the experience of new things that are fun. I’ve turned my general philosophy into something like “enjoy the party while it lasts”. Knowing that the possibility of total societal collapse or death from a plague is potentially right around the corner, I want to have fun in what I do. That includes seeing if some major games are what they’re hyped up to be, or maybe pick out some weird thing that happened to get scooped up, all while I’m tending to avoid buying major releases immediately for sake of budget at minimum. Also, given I’m the type to try to avoid paying subscriptions where possible, the fact I’m willing to look into Game Pass is something. Even despite the effect Game Pass has in furthering publisher control over cost and release like streaming anything else does, it’s still a thing I feel like doing for a while longer. That is the definition of a guilty pleasure for me, where it’s a fun thing tied to a potential nightmare. Like streaming services, though I’m sharing those on a plan.
Enjoying things while they last. Things as a service can go down for whatever reason they feel like. Where I can find fun, I hope to enjoy it. If I drop something, it’s probably because it wasn’t fun and wasn’t benefitting anyone, and there’s only so long to seek fun or to help others out. I just hope I can enjoy with friends, even if the things themselves run solo. I also want to be somewhat responsible with my fun, so I’m not going to immediately pursue a bunch of crypto stuff for example. In fact, I find crypto stuff to be more of an anti-fun as it’s more done fully for profit at this point, and it also prevents others from having fun by locking down gaming hardware. As best I can I will stay out of anything related to crypto nonsense, even if it means that I eventually would have to isolate myself from society itself if it did somehow take over as the primary liquid asset trade. That is unless it suddenly somehow is sensible.