Console Hazards: Microsoft & Sony

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Console Hazards: Microsoft & Sony

Console gaming can be a great time. It's nice to be able to get a game right out of the package, install it, and have it be ready to go. Admittedly, it's not so great as it once was, thanks to installations and the like, but it's still nice to know that most any game will work in its console, and that you don't need to upgrade the console to play a certain game. But there are hazards in the gaming market, as we recently saw with some issues in both Microsoft and Sony camps.

For those who remember a couple weeks back, Microsoft's Xbox Live service found itself seeing a lot of outages and downtime, a development that Xbox top dog Phil Spencer noted could really do a number on user confidence in the system. Spencer more specifically said "We have to earn the trust, each day. And I know service disruptions hurts that trust." The Verge's Tom Warren hit Spencer where he lived, suggesting that the outages not only hurt Xbox Live service, but also all the apps involved, such that an Xbox Live outage left users unable to open Netflix. To this, Spencer replied via Twitter "I think you are right. The dependencies between the services needs to be minimized."

You know what else would help here, Spencer? If the gamers held your feet to the fire and you started issuing refunds for downtime like Frontier does when its Internet service goes out. If you had to start forking over cash every time the platform cut out, I bet you'd stop talking in terms of "earning trust" and more in terms of "FIX THE NETWORK BEFORE WE'RE BLED DRY, YOU JACKASSES!". You're charging on a pre-pay basis for Xbox Live Gold, and if you were required to issue a pro-rated refund for these outages, I bet you'd be a lot more devoted to network stability. I'm not interested in you earning trust. I'm interested in you earning MONEY. MY money, specifically. These outages don't hurt your trust. They hurt my good time, and given that I'm paying for that good time, I want my service active. Like I pay for. Still, it's worth noting that most of the time, the service is indeed active and working nicely. By some reports, it actually works much better than its counterpart at Sony.

Speaking of Sony, Microsoft wasn't alone in troubles recently, as Sony's Shuhei Yoshida recently followed up on some remarks where Sony's Andrew House noted that the first-party lineup for the 2015 holiday season was "a little sparse." Yoshida, meanwhile, noted that the company has "work to do" in terms of getting more big-name exclusives to its platform. While the platform itself was selling at a brisk pace, owing in large part to Microsoft's early missteps back at that horrible E3 event--Sony absolutely destroyed it with a simple short video featuring staffers handing a disk back and forth--the company has choked in the clutch somewhat, as some of its biggest exclusives wound up delayed, like "Uncharted 4: A Thief's End."

Naturally, Sony has some exciting things in the pipeline, like the upcoming PlayStation VR system. But the games are a little lacking. While there are plenty of multi-platform games en route--"Fallout 4", "Just Cause 3", "Tom Clancy's The Division" and so on--there aren't quite so many big name titles on the way for just PlayStation 4. That's likely to change as we go along, of course, but with the holiday shopping season coming up, it's going to be very important to get some big names in play. It helps that the system has proven a big seller, because Sony was in fairly dire straits a while ago. This influx of resources should be a help in terms of securing exclusives.

So the console market isn't without its pitfalls and hazards. Network outages, gaming droughts...these things can be tough for a console player to live with. Still, there are things that can be done to better secure the future of consoles, and keeping the network up and running and packed with games is the biggest way to do so.

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