Back in 2001, when Microsoft released the original Xbox, the goal (as was with every console manufacturer) was to revolutionize things. To an extent, they did. The Xbox was really nothing more than a stripped down PC running a highly optimized OS dedicated to playing video games.
In its basic function, it’s basic goal, the Xbox was no different than the PS2, Dreamcast, Super Nintendo, and Atari 2600 that came before it. You plug a box into your television, add a game, apply electricity, and you’re on your way. Now before I go any further, I’m going to be over-simplifying things a bit here, so if I mis-state some technicality, keep reading because an accurate historical record is irrelevant to my over-arcing point here.
Now one of the great things about the original Xbox is how hackable it was. I knew several people who cracked it open, added a larger hard disk, installed Linux, and were able to not only play Xbox games, but any number of other emulated systems as well as watch downloaded movies and TV.
A light bulb must have went off at Microsoft, a green one, shaped like a $, not an X. When the 360 came out, it brought with it Xbox Live, Internet connectivity, and applications in addition to games. Not only could you shoot things, you could watch TV, listen to music, do any number of things. The Xbox was now a true media center.
The Xbox One took the same formula and turned up every metric to 11. What started as a simple gaming system could now interact with multiple devices, add external storage, download apps, games, movies, television, music, high def, etc… When it works, it’s a sight to behold, a marvel of modern technology.
Tonight I got home from a long day of work, exhausted. All I wanted to do was fire up my Xbox, maybe play some Borderlands 3, and continue catching up on Mr.Robot. I wanted to do what the console was created to do. Consider this – the games are stored on the console. The Amazon application is stored on the console. My Internet is working fine.
Long story short, Xbox core services at some datacenter far far away from my living room are broken. My Xbox can’t talk to Microsoft, so nothing I’ve bought and paid for here is working. I know I can watch Amazon from any number of other sources, but it’s the principle of the matter.
With all of this technological advancement, all this grand connectivity where humanity can reach out and touch pretty much anything, something has been lost. Right now I can throw a copy of Duck Hunt into my NES, and within mere moments I’m shooting digital ducks and cursing at a giggling dog. Regardless of what Nintendo of America is up to, I can play my games.
I won’t lie, I haven’t bought a physical game in years. I’m a big part of the problem. The ability to point, click, and play is truly a wonder of the modern world. The sacrifice is that unless everything is working 100% at a company miles away, I’m not playing my games. If something happens to that company, I have nothing to show for my years of investment.
The era of actually owning what I buy to entertain myself is effectively over.
Maybe I should read a book.