To Xbox or not to Xbox?

When the Xbox One was announced way back when there was quite a kafuffle over the always online aspect. A Microsoft spokesperson went so far as to, somewhat famously, suggest that if people didn’t want to/couldn’t access always online that they should stick with the Xbox 360. As a consumer I demand a little more respect for my hard earned cash, I decided to go a different way. I wrote the incident down in my Book of Grudges and bought a PlayStation 4 instead.

A few years later and I’m about ready to forgive Microsoft. I’ve been thinking about getting an Xbox in my home again and was waiting for the announcement of the slim version. Thanks to E3 we now know it to be called the Xbox One S. It’s been announced and the release is imminent. We also now have retailers dumping existing Xbox One stock with console and game bundles for as little as $300 AU, a great price by any measure.

However there are two other announcements that make me pause before buying an Xbox One or One S. Firstly, Microsoft have confirmed that project Scorpio is real. We know it’s not coming any time soon, but it’s coming. Knowing this doesn’t make me think I should necessarily give the current version a miss but it’s certainly given me pause for thought.

Waiting for Scorpio doesn’t get me Gears of War 4 or Dead Rising 4 though. I’ve got a PlayStation 4 so it’s the exclusives that are going to get me off the fence and there are some exclusives I’m really keen to play. Here’s the thing though. Microsoft showed at E3 that they are moving towards Xbox and Windows exclusives.

I think this has been building for some time but Microsoft really hammered it home during E3. If there was a Xbox only exclusive, I missed it, it seemed like they were all Xbox and Windows 10.

It leaves me wondering, as someone who owns a PC, why would I buy an Xbox? If I buy an Xbox I won’t be able to play God of War 4. If I buy a PS4 I will be able to play Gears of War 4 on my PC and God of War 4 on the PS4. Where is the incentive here for me to buy both? The only real reason to buy an Xbox is if that’s what my friends are on, but most of my gaming friends have PCs, so why would THEY by an Xbox?

But there is another side to this tale and that’s the announcement of Play Anywhere which is, frankly, amazing.

Essentially, this is buy it once. 12 titles were announced, including Crackdown 3, Gears of War 4 and ReCore. There are a couple of rules to follow (don’t buy it on disk, you’ll be disappointed!) but basically if you buy one of those games digitally on Xbox you’ll have it on PC too. Not a different version of the game either, the same game. Shared saves, achievements, the whole bit. Honestly, that’s amazing, and I applaud Microsoft for doing it. But that doesn’t really make me want to buy an Xbox.

Maybe I’m not their market? Maybe they’ve decided that it’s the folks that really only play consoles (and there are plenty of them) that are the ones they want to hunt. That’s fair enough, specialising is a very legitimate marketing strategy. Maybe they want to focus on increasing their market share in both game development and publishing, which they certainly will. There are heaps of Xbox (and Windows 10) exclusives I’ll be getting on PC that I probably would never have played.

But Play Anywhere garners so much brand loyalty. Whether it’s a clever marketing ploy or just good guy Microsoft, I want to buy an Xbox because I want to support a company that is doing the right thing by me as a consumer (a polar opposite of how I feel about Bethesda). I firmly believe in voting with your wallet and I want to support it, despite how little sense there is in buying an actual Xbox. It’s a bit of a conundrum!

For now I’ll settle for forking over my hard earned for some PC versions of Microsoft games, but the ones with Play Anywhere enabled. Just in case an Xbox does ends up in my lounge room sometime soon….


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