[Editor's Note: this is the second new column that I alluded to when turning the Weekend Hangover into a list. Kyle's column will be monthly...just as soon as I can figure out what time of the month I want to run it.]
Artwork by CitrusKing46
For you, the day Topless Robot debuted a new monthly column for video games was the greatest day of your life. But for me...it was Tuesday.
...Okay, so it's Monday, and this didn't debuted on the day I had planned. But our viewership goes up whenever we make that joke, so why the hell not?
Anyhow, welcome to the first edition of Robotic Gaming Monthly, Topless Robot's new monthly feature devoted to the world of video games!! Featuring a look at both old and new highlights from the gaming world via trailers, retro lookbacks, editorials, and possibly more as time goes on. It is my solemn duty to indeed attempt to take an in-depth and serious look at the world of gaming culture and reflect upon it.
...And that's why this debut article shall feature BOOBIES!!
...Or titties are what we'll eventually get to discussing. Oh, we'll still get to them, but first we need to address the big black juggernaut that suddenly started jumping around and making a ruckus a little while back. I refer, of course, to Microsoft's recent announcements this month regarding the Xbox One.
So yeah, finally giving in to fan demand (or as Microsoft calls it, "delivering more choices"), the Xbox One will now have an optional model that does not include the Kinect and is $100 cheaper, will now offer free games to Xbox Live Gold members, and will no longer require a paid Gold membership in order to use apps like Netflix or HBO Go. Basically, Microsoft gave the people everything they had asked for, and we responded mainly by mocking the hell out of them in online comments. Not that I'm trying to defend Microsoft or anything, but I kind of get the feeling that we as a gaming community tend to come off at times like that bitchy girl you date who won't shut up about how her other lovers did everything better.
Admit it, you've behave like this on a message board more than once.
But I digress, because the focus here should be on the part about the Kinect being entirely optional for the Xbox One. And it basically has to be the focus, because no one will shut up about it. Headlines have been popping up everywhere bearing titles such as "Is Microsoft Abandoning Kinect?", "Kinect Is Being Ditched", "Our Kinect Are Now Useless", and "MICROSOFT SAYS 'DROP DEAD' TO KINECT!" with the same frequency as the evening news reporting about a new drug or bad habit that your kids...are doing (but really not). Then again, it doesn't help that Microsoft is now retooling the Xbox One's interface to fit this new change, or that they only gave a vague response of "a little later" as to when optional Xbox One Kinects would be released.
So since I'm contractually obliged to ring in on this as well now, I guess it's time to answer the question "Is the Kinect dead?" or more likely "Should the Kinect die?" And I guess my response to that would have to be...No. I really can't say that the Kinect deserves to die. Because having thought about this for quite a bit, I can say that while I more than likely joined in on laughing at Microsoft's claims that the Kinect would be integral to the Xbox One, I have come to realize that maybe it really is integral...but possibly in a different way than we initially thought.
And not just as an integral way to showcase obvious Stepford families in awkward poses, I mean.
See, you might have noticed that once you remove the Kinect and add in the free games and apps, you get something a bit familiar. Namely, a PlayStation 4. Look, Microsoft, I know competition is fierce and you have to match your rival's level of service in nearly any way you can, but deciding to have the Xbox One basically become your competitor's console is not the way to go. I already have a PS4, thank you very much, I don't really need two of them. You see, what the Kinect gave the Xbox One was something a video game console truly needs to stand out amongst the rest: Identity.
Yes, I'm aware Microsoft also has a stable of original television content lined up for the XBone as well that looks alright (for now), but here's a shocker: I purchase video game consoles to play video games on. I'll admit the entertainment features are snazzy and jumping between menus with voice control is fun, but it's all secondary to the actual games. And without the Kinect to help allow for some unique games that the PS4 might not be able to do, what you have instead is two consoles with minor differences and a few exclusive titles that actually creates a harder sell for your console. And I kind of feel confident in saying that nobody wants all of our gaming platforms to conform into some sort of hive mind where they all think and act exactly alike. As I mentioned before concerning Nintendo and the Wii U, variety is the spice of life, and also an essential part of survival in the marketplace.
Speaking of Nintendo, what we seem to have here is a problem similar to that of the relationship between The Big N and the Wii U's gamepad: Not fully knowing what to do with what your peripherals. Things like voice support additions for existing games are nice, but what the Kinect needs is more games like SWERY's upcoming D4 (side note: when the eff is this game actually coming out??): A Heavy Rain-style sit-down adventure game controlled via a combination of controller-based gameplay and interactive hand and head gestures to allow for just the right level of immersion. The type of game that shows off the potential that the Kinect actually has. Yes, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor was a botched example, but don't let one company's failure to create a working game discourage you. Or maybe even more games like The Gunstringer would do, as in simple arcade-like shooters and such where the Kinect nicely duplicates light gun-style controls. Or even something like the upcoming Fantasia: Music Evolved rhythm game where you get to play conductor, which will hopefully end up making quite an impact at E3. You just need more people who can be more creative with the Kinect is all I'm saying. So more games like that, and notably much less dancin' Han Solo.
So yes, I do think the Kinect is kind of an essential part of the Xbox One, and no, it doesn't deserve to die. We just need more people who actually give a damn about creativity to work with it, to get some more gamers to get rid of the mentality that technology like this is a gimmick solely to be used for "casual" games and such that pander to easily-impressed folks. Or failing that (which is sadly quite likely), a price cut if possible. Because even if you're mostly indifferent towards the Kinect, I think we can all agree that nobody wants a stagnant gaming market. Especially if it just leads to more dicks on the internet having nothing to argue over but pointless graphics stats for each preferred platform. So here's hoping the Xbox One still finds a way to use the Kinect, and hopefully E3 shall show how they plan to do it. [NOTE: Since Microsoft's E3 press conference will probably have happened by the time you read this, please insert the appropriate response of "Woo-hoo!" or "Ah, f***." to that last sentence depending on how things went.]
Do NOT let me down, magic candle...deer...thingy.