This week we kick off the new daily format that isn’t actually a “Daily”. As Logan posted, the Daily’s in our traditional sense (as much tradition as you can have for a 4 month old site) are gone. We in no way could keep up with the big blogs in reporting news so we decided to just focus more on editorials, reviews, and our general nonsense that we hope you’ve come to enjoy. So grab your beverage of choice, pull up a chair by the bonfire, and let me talk to you a bit about a video game system that is slowly mutating into the hub of your entertainment center.
Let me start off by saying that I am by no means an old man, as much as I claim to be. Keep that in the back of your head as you read the following sentence: Back in my day, video game systems used to only play video games. Well at least until 9/9/1995 when the Sony Playstation launched and used CD-Rom based media to play games but by then I was a 14 year old kid still going nuts over my Super Nintendo. While not mind blowing to us now a days, it allowed gamers to pop in a music CD and get down to the newest Boyz II Men jam or more importantly, let developers put real music into games. We moved away from digitized voices and MIDI music to clear crisp voice overs and CD quality soundtracks. As a bonus, the medium was cheaper and held more data than a cardtridge could. I suppose we could say that Sony inadvertently set consoles on the current path they are on.
With the launch of the Dreamcast on 9/9/1999, the next generation of home console gaming officially kicked off. The Dreamcast, Playstation 2, and Xbox brought online multiplayer, custom game soundtracks, built in storage solutions, multiplayer voice chat, and the ability to watch movies. To PC gamers this really wasn’t a big deal, we had been playing Doom over a 9600 baud connections, listening to music, and watching movies on our tricked out x486 Hewlett Packards since 1993. The issue that existed and still does to this day however is that there were tons of compatibility issues with PC gaming and often times, at least back in 1993, you were messing with boot files to make sure everything worked right. I pray you kids never have to know the ordeal of messing with an INI or EXE boot file. With a console, there is only one type of sound card, video card, processor speed, and amount of RAM that the developer needs to code for. Consoles were slowly starting to move out of your bedroom and into your living room.
Now we get to the current generation of consoles. Sony has fought and won another format war with their Blu-Ray format, Nintendo has won over gamers from ages 6 – 65 with their innovative motion controls, and Microsoft has built a machine centered around their Xbox Live service. However, the console war has gone beyond just polygons and more into what can they do to pull more than just gamers to their systems.
While none of the current gen systems even resemble what they were like at launch, the 360 seems to have undergone some of the most significant changes in terms of multimedia capability. It shows no signs of stopping either after all of the announcements made at their keynote today at E3. Xbox Live, besides the internet, is one of the easiest ways for gamers to stay connected and know what their other friends are doing. When you think of it in that regard, it’s easy to compare Live to popular social networks like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter with the exception that it’s an extremely closed network for it’s roughly 17 million users. Friends on Live can see your status, message you, and even leave you voice messages. At their E3 keynote today, they announced that you’ll be able to use Twitter & Facebook soon to further expand your ability to connect to not just other gamers, but anybody else on the internet.
You see what they did there?
If you already use these services, why wouldn’t you update from your Xbox and then pop into a game of Modern Warfare 2 instead of going to your computer? It actually might even update your Twitter and Facebook automatically so your friends don’t even need to have their system on to know if they can join you in said game of Modern Warfare 2. What we don’t realize is that this is an amazing deal for a couple of social networking sites that are dying to find a new solid way to gain revenue.
While both the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 both had the ability to rent/buy movies and T.V. shows, Microsoft took advantage the popular online movie rental site Netflix and integrated their Instant View service into the New Xbox Experience. While the catalog was scant at first, it has grown to a respectable count of movies and t.v. shows that you can stream to your Xbox. Microsoft announced today that they were tweaking it to stream at 1080p and giving users the ability to browse categories and add items to their queue without ever going to their computer. We should also expect to be able to watch all media in an Xbox Live party with some friends. Not content with letting you download and stream movies, Microsoft partnered with Last.Fm to bring you some internet radio so you can once again listen to “Water Runs Dry” and reminisce about your Playstation days.
There is only one thing that can be said when you use your “video game system” for watching movies and listening to music more than you play games and that is… Well played Microsoft, well played indeed.