Talking Geek

Xbox changing how we play games

The Xbox Series X, the next generation of Microsoft's flagship video game console, is scheduled to release this holiday season.
The Xbox Series X, the next generation of Microsoft's flagship video game console, is scheduled to release this holiday season.
Microsoft
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Like so many millennials around the country, I'm a nerd at heart.

I grew up with my dad watching "Star Trek"and "Star Wars." My first video game console was the Nintendo Entertainment System. I watched "Darkwing Duck," "Rocko's Modern Life" and "Batman: The Animated Series." Needless to say, I never “grew up,” but the things I  enjoy certainly did.

Now, I'm an uncertified expert on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I spend more time with my Xbox One X than I probably should. You can find me at night reading comic books on my phone.

Welcome to Talking Geek.

Each week, I'll pick whatever random thing is going on in the world of video games, movies, television, pop-culture, comic books or any other part of the wonderful world of nerd and tech. If you like what I'm doing here, let me know. Maybe I can talk James Phillips into letting me keep doing this!

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It's that familiar, magical time for gamers across the world. The Xbox One (and all of its siblings) and the Playstation 4 are nearing the end of their respective lifespans. From Halo 5 to The Last of Us to Gears 4 & 5 to The Amazing Spider-Man – Sony and Microsoft gave us plenty of wonderful memories over the past seven years. But as one generation ends, another one begins.

The information has been slow coming regarding the Xbox Series X and the Playstation 5. Earlier this month, we learned that the new Xbox will release in Japan in November. Assumably the stateside launch will be right around that time as well. Sony has not confirmed a release date for the PS5, but rest assured that they will not allow Microsoft to get too much of a jump on them, if any at all.

But we all know the consoles will release this holiday season. What we don't know, yet, is how much money we will have to lay down to get our hands on one of these consoles.

Back in 2013, the Xbox One was snake-bit from the beginning. The “always online” fiasco caused even the most ardent loyalists to say, “Hold up. What?” More importantly, however, was the fact that Microsoft put far too many eggs into the basket known as Kinect, the now discontinued peripheral that allowed gamers to interact with their console via motion and voice.

Bundled with the Kinect accessory, the Xbox One sold for $499 upon release. Sony, meanwhile, slapped a $399 price tag on the PS4 and ran away with the console war last generation. The Xbox One never caught up.

All kinds of numbers have been thrown around as to what the consoles may cost when they are released, but it begs to reason that Microsoft isn't going to make the same mistake again. But, how much does that really matter to the home of Master Chief?

Sony is doing the same thing it and so many other console makers have for years. Pushing the new hardware as the next must have thing in the world of gaming. Exclusive games, launch titles and new & improved features. But while Sony is trying to up their game, Microsoft is changing the game.

In 2017, Xbox head Phil Spencer introduced the world to Game Pass – a revolutionary concept that saw gamers subscribe to a monthly service giving them unlimited access to a sizable catalog of games. Later, all Microsoft first-party games were added to the service on the day of release. The suddenly Minecraft on the Nintendo Switch asked gamers for their Microsoft login, incorporating the Xbox Live platform on a competitor's platform. Then Game Pass for PC. XCloud allows gamers to play their favorite games on their mobile devices using a bluetooth controller.

To play Xbox games no longer requires gamers to own a physical Xbox, much less the brand new Series X.

Using cross-platform play, Microsoft is taking a huge gamble that their money is to be made on software and subscription services, although not forgoing the hardware side altogether. It's a risky endeavor. From the Atari to the Xbox One, video games have been centered around the console (PC games notwithstanding), but Xbox and their ambitious business model are building toward a world built around the games themselves, regardless of how you play.

To even further the idea that Microsoft isn't banking on the new console selling out, all first-party Microsoft games will release on both the Xbox One and the Xbox Series X for the foreseeable future. In the past, console makers were all too eager to force gamers to buy the new console to be able to play the new games. Not this time.

We can discuss hardware, power, graphics and all of the technical jazz all day, but at the end of the day it all comes down to what is important to you, the gamer. Sony has gobbled up first-party developers over the past several years aiming to build an even more robust PS exclusive library. It has been a successful strategy for them thus far. Microsoft meanwhile is looking to change the very way we think of gaming. If they succeed, the future of gaming could be paltform based instead of revolving around a singular piece of hardward.

The Xbox Series X and Playstation 5 are both set to be released later this year, with a rumored smaller and less powerful Xbox Series S likely to come out just in time for Christmas as well. Will you be picking up one of the new consoles when they hit store shelves?

Meanwhile, has anyone been able to find a Switch during this Pandemic?

See you next week.

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Jeffery Winborne is the New Media Cooridinator at the Daily Mountaine Eagle. He can be reached at jeffery.winborne@mountaineagle.com and on Twitter @JLWinborne.