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 411mania » Games » Columns

Four Player Co-op 5.21.14: XBOne, DOTA 2, XBox Gold, More
Posted by Stephen Randle on 05.21.2014

John Cash has joined the game.
Todd Vote has joined the game.
Dan Watson has joined the game.
Daniel Anderson has joined the game.

Quizmaster Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Four Player Co-op, the game where we never strip champions of their hard-won titles, because there aren't actually any titles, just lots and lots of randomly awarded points and meaningless victories that lead nowhere. Just like real life!

Start the game!

QUESTION ONE: Well, we were pretty sure it would happen eventually, but I'm not sure anyone seriously thought that it would happen within six months. Microsoft has officially dropped the price of the XBOne to $399, making it the same price point as the PS4. How could they do this? Why, they've taken the Kinect out of the box, silly! Yes, I know they said it was a necessary part of the system, and that they were backing it to the hilt, but instead, they're completely reversing direction, even before their massively hyped Fantasia: Music Evolved game, which was to be a big part of their Kinect library, is even close to hitting shelves. I'm not saying Microsoft was getting spanked by Sony's lower price point, but would this have happened so fast if that weren't the case? And with Kinect becoming an optional component, does the peripheral have any sort of real future ahead of it?

John Cash - I think Microsoft just thought its brand name was stronger than the almighty dollar, and which lead them to fly too close to the sun; unfortunately for them they are losing out on their wings ($100 per console is a pretty big chunk,) but fortunately for us, they won't be dropping their crap on us anymore (the Kinect is basically dead.) I've said it previously in this column that the potential growth for the Kinect in other industries is there, everything from medical purposes to space exploration, kind of like a certain other $2 billion dollar gimmick that started out as a gaming peripheral is most likely to end up...

Todd Vote - Like all peripherals, the future of them depends on how much developers utilize them. Considering the Kinect wasn't used much when it was a standard part of the Xbone box, I doubt any devs will feel the need to do so now. It will continue to see minimal use, and will continue not to care about it. But always remember, all it takes is one killer app, and Kinect could be the talk of the town. 

Dan Watson - I was a bit taken aback by this announcement. I honestly believed Microsoft when they said they would make Kinect matter. Well less than a full year later and it's gone. Talk about disappointing. I do believe price is a factor, but part of it has to be that Kinect just isn't catching on. How many actually bought and are playing Rivals? It is time for Microsoft to move on to their next gimmick, Virtual Reality. 

Daniel Anderson - If Microsoft was in front, then this wouldn't be an issue.  I think that they had to do something, and removing the Kinect from the box and dropping the price of the Xbox One was the easiest way to generate some interest, and still get the advertising out there long enough before Christmas season to get the thought of the higher price point out of people's memories. Even with Microsoft lagging in sales when compared to the PS4, I do not think we would have seen this price drop if not for Phil Spencer taking over as Head of Xbox.  If we had Mr. "Just Deal With It" still in charge, we would see the Xbox One retain its original price no matter what.  Put new people in charge though, and changes happen.

Quizmaster - John gets 125 points for his belief in Microsoft's arrogance costing them, which seems to be the position a lot of people have. It's also one that seems to have happened to every console developer over the years, and is jokingly known as "third console jinx", due to the general acceptance being that the PS3 and N64 are the consoles that cost Sony and Nintendo, respectively, their massive leads in the arena. And then Nintendo managed to get the lead back with the Wii, and flushed it away again! We may need a new term for that.

QUESTION TWO: Oh, and in more Microsoft news, they also announced that they'll be moving a lot of services, including Netflix, Hulu, and several other popular applications (although not free-to-play games or MMOs like Elder Scrolls Online), out from behind the XBox Live Gold pay wall, which also finally puts them on par with the PS4 in that arena as well. I know there were attempts to defend the decision to keep things behind Gold, but come on, admit it, now that Microsoft has changed their minds, this was absolutely the right thing to do, right?

John Cash - This was absolutely the right thing to do, and I say this NOT as someone whose XBL Gold membership ran out three months ago and has to watch Netflix on his laptop or... *gulp*... 3DS... This should have happened a year after the apps became available, so considering that and how late to the game they were on getting Internet Explorer (still waiting on a *real web browser*) onto the 360, I guess you could at least say they are consistent in their lateness at this point.

Todd Vote - It absolutely was the right thing to do now. The technology world is changing. When these things were first locked behind the pay window, there were not near as many options out there for viewing the content. Tablets and Smartphones were only just starting to become the technological marvels that they are today. So it made sense for Xbox to put them behind the pay window because it added value to the Xbox Live Gold membership. Now-a-days there are hundreds of ways to view Netflix, or Hulu, none of which involve paying a third party an additional fee to view them on that machine. 

So this is the right time to remove them from behind the pay wall, hell I'll go so far as to say they are a couple months late ( I just re-upped my Gold for a year at the beginning of March).

Dan Watson - I don't think this was a big deal. Are there that many people who purchase consoles just to watch Hulu, Netflix, or any other app? I just saw a report about energy consumption from the PS4 and XboxOne and the news isn't good. It takes almost 3 times as much electricity to own one of these compared to the previous generation.

Daniel Anderson - It was the right thing to do, but I do not think it is as essential as people make it sound.  Face it, between Smart TV's, DVD players, Blu-ray players, and the ever popular computer (be it tablet, laptop, or desktop) people were never going to be hurting for ways to watch Netflix or any of the other entertainment apps on their Xbox's, Gold or no.  Honestly, how many people have you heard say in the last year, "I like the Xbox One (or 360) but since I can't use Netflix for free on Xbox Live, I am not getting an Xbox."  People have other reasons not to buy a console, and this is pretty far down on the list.

Quizmaster - Todd, we can't give you a refund (although Microsoft mentioned something about reimbursements for anyone who bought Gold just for Netflix access, although how one would prove that is anyone's guess), but have this lovely consolation prize of 853 points for sticking with Microsoft despite everything they've done to you over the years. Finally, they made an error in your favour.

QUESTION THREE: From the arena of e-sports, Valve's free-to-play hat collecting game known as Defense of the Ancients 2 is gearing up for the International, their gigantic annual tournament featuring teams from around the world. For the prize pool, DOTA sells an in-game Compendium, which features a bunch of game-related challenges and general information about the tournament, and a percentage from the sale of each one goes directly into the prize pool. Currently, that prize pool has just crossed the...wait for it...six million dollar mark, which is actually double last year's final amount, and the tournament isn't even until July. Oh, and if you want a ticket to the live event itself, too bad, they sold out Seattle's Key Arena in under an hour. With that much money on the line and that much fan support, what are your thoughts on the increasing popularity and visibility of professional gaming?

John Cash - I think its great. As someone who generally likes sports but hates the business of professional sports (if that makes sense), I would be quite happy to see someone make the same amount in one night as someone like Alex Rodriguez makes in an entire season. The EVO Fighting Game World Championship stream has become an annual must-see event for me, and I occasionally peek in to watch Starcraft streams. If a guy can get paid 10 million dollars to throw a ball every day, I don't see why someone who can make 700+ APM every night can't get the same amount.

Todd Vote - Holy shit! That's some serious bread right there... I had no idea professional gaming had grown that much, outside of fighting game tournaments. Color me surprised. But this is good for gamers, more visibility equals more gamers, which means a better understanding of the entertainment medium. Maybe some day we will not have to defend that our games don't cause us to want to kill everything we see. 

Dan Watson - Sooner or later this had to happen. Video games are becoming more and more accepted by society and why not turn it into a gambling-abled event? Soon you will see Vegas betting on teams of gamers against others in these major competitions.

Daniel Anderson - I am all for professional gaming taking off, but Hell's Bells (May the 27th finally), please get some good announcers to talk during the games.  I watched a lot of last year's event, but the announcing left something to be desired.  Find some comedian or celebrity who is a fan of the game, and have them be color commentators or something.  Also, try and make the games interesting for people who haven't played much of the game.  It doesn't even have to be during a match, but during the downtime on the live stream, have them do breakdowns of the match and present it in a way that a novice to the game can understand and enjoy.  Let me give an example, during a football game, when the game goes to overtime, the announcers go over the rules for overtime.  Most fans know these rules, but the announcers still go over them anyway to inform the newer fan.  Competitive gaming needs something like that as well if it is going to be more than a niche event.

Quizmaster - As probably the only person who knows what the hell Daniel's referring to with his date obsession, I'll give him 1835 points for his helpful hints for DOTA casters, because yes, if they want more people involved, they're going to have to start being more clear about some of the rules. The whole concept is really in its infancy, though, so we'll give it time. Although, as someone who now has extensive experience with watching professional DOTA, I can say that I could listen to Ayesee talk all day and never get tired of it.

QUESTION FOUR: And because we are somehow required by law to provide some sort of environmental message this week, it turns out that this generation of consoles all waste a ridiculous amount of electricity, due to inefficiencies related to their standby modes and controller charging. Apparently the worst offender is the XBOne (due to voice controls requiring the system to always be "listening"), and the best (although still pretty bad) is the Wii U, which is the only thing Nintendo is actually winning at this generation. Kind of makes you think, doesn't it?

John Cash - It's not really anything new to think about. Ever since the Gameboy Advance SP, I've had entire outlet strips filled with chargers of some kind, it seems. Before that it was buying half of the private stock in Duracell in order to play the SEGA Game Gear for more than 3 hours in the same day. Hell, I'm on my third battery on my laptop because I leave it plugged in so much. There's a reason we aren't called "customers" anymore; all we do is consume.

Todd Vote - Damn.. that XBone can't catch a break, can it? Congrats to the Wii U for winning at something. If your gaming system is wasting that much power, even in standby mode, what else in your house is eating through the resources?

Dan Watson - I should've read ahead before answering an earlier question. Yeah it's pretty sad everything else in the world is becoming energy efficient except video games. I have noticed an increase in my own electricity bill because of this.

Daniel Anderson - Most people will call me a horrible person, but not really.  I am sorry, but these type of stories and studies just strike me as attention grabbing stories by the groups that release them.  Did anyone think that the game consoles were energy efficient? Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Quizmaster - Daniel, you're a horrible person.

You did give me permission.

BONUS QUESTION: Quick, think up a better way Vince McMahon could have wasted over 300 million dollars (roughly how much he lost when WWE stock sank back to normal levels this past week).

John Cash - Well, since it was basically imaginary money anyway, I guess he could have built a rather large vault in his study at home, then filled said vault with 300 million of those Sacajawea coins, and finally get in to position to dive in elegantly and swim around, only to tear both quads again and just kind of awkwardly splash around in the top layer of coins while pretending to have fun, but you could see it on his face that it wasn't how he pictured it going.

Todd Vote - He could have brought back that contest where he gave money to the viewers, and looked like a crazy old man on TV again. He could have gave it to me.. Hell for 300 Million, he probably could have bought TNA, and Jarrett's new GWF promotion just for shits and giggles. 

Dan Watson - Re-create the XFL, place the games Sundays against the NFL, and only allow former wrestlers to coach.

Daniel Anderson - Hmmm.  Vince could have spent the $300 million to buy the movie rights to The Dresden Files books and cast wrestlers in all the roles.  I mean, who doesn't want to see Big Show as Eldest Gruff, HHH as Nicodemus, and Randy Orton as Harry Dresden?  Of course Vince would probably cast himself as The Merlin to continue his tradition of playing old, out of touch, and slightly evil leaders.  Empty Night, I hope I didn't give them any ideas. 



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