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Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Aggie Arcade

In this week’s Aggie Arcade video I explore the world of Fez, a 2012 puzzle platformer that came out for the PC earlier this month. The visuals are vibrant and inviting, but the ominous music foreshadows Fez‘s many hidden secrets. Only by shifting the world and collecting cubes can I uncover the mysteries that truly define the Fez experience.

Xbox One’s unknown audience

Last week Microsoft finally unveiled its upcoming console — the Xbox One. The company mentioned how the system will be consumers’ one main living room device in order to justify the name, but let’s all just agree Xbox One is a silly name. Far more concerning are the details regarding the successor to the Xbox 360.

My Aggie Arcade column a couple of weeks ago outlined a short wishlist for Microsoft’s big reveal of the Xbox One. The main things I wanted to see were plenty of games, a small emphasis on Kinect and an explanation of the system’s always-on requirements. Well, it turns out that Microsoft didn’t feel like doing any of that during the event.

Instead, the company showed no live demos, revealed that Kinect will be bundled with the system and only created more confusion regarding internet connection requirements. In fact, I’d say “confusing” is the one word that best sums up the event.

The biggest source of confusion stems from that fact that I don’t know what kind of audience Microsoft is targeting with the Xbox One. A large portion of the video game community thought Microsoft’s event was a disaster, myself included. Instead of emphasizing the Xbox One’s prowess as a video game console, the company focused on television services, easier-to-navigate menus and other categories that speak to a far broader audience.

Perhaps Microsoft intends to take Nintendo’s approach with the Wii and market the Xbox One as a system for families and more casual audiences. The fact that Kinect is now required seems to support that particular viewpoint. But when I think back to last week’s event, I remember Microsoft did not fully commit to such a vision.

Microsoft still teased 15 exclusive games in the first year, though only one was actually shown (Forza Motorsport 5). The company also mentioned how next month’s E3 will be a bigger showcase for the system’s upcoming library of games, which always proves to be true. But how many of those exclusive titles will be Kinect-based? And how many of them will feel like rehashes of past releases with prettier visuals?

Even worse are the reports regarding restrictions on used games. It’s a controversial issue that doesn’t necessarily apply to me since I don’t purchase used games, but if you want a subject that will rile up the video game community, then this is it.

Xbox One owners will be required to install game discs to their hard drives. At that point the disc is no longer required, but that doesn’t mean friends can then borrow the game free of charge. Once a game has been tied to an Xbox Live account, subsequent users will have to pay a fee to gain access to the disc. That fee will likely be the full price of the game.

What does that mean for retailers like GameStop or services like GameFly? Well, I can’t see them surviving with those kinds of systems in place. It’s like a big middle finger to companies that rely on used games sales. Microsoft has said it does still have plans for used games, but here we are a week later with no actual details.

I can’t help but feel cynical after the reveal event. It seems like Microsoft is trying to be everything to everyone, but no video game company has ever truly succeeded with that kind of mentality. Some people have said we can’t truly judge the system until we see Microsoft’s E3 conference in June — I sure hope they’re right.

ANTHONY LABELLA can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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