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I personally never thought that I'd feel this way, but I find myself in this situation. I'm almost 43 years old and I'm lonely. After working all day, all I have are four white walls and a computer screen to look at. I never did anything wrong, and have two beautiful children, but most days I spend the evenings looking at four white walls and a computer screen. Why this happened is a long story, but it did happen.
So looking at the walls, I started to think of how to possibly get out of the situation. The trouble is that I'm in love with two women with baggage. One of them has baggage of my own making (two children and fuck knows what else), and the other a splurting gibbering childhood boyfriend that was rejected and now through his crying and thus making her feel sorry for him, the poor soul. I suppose the term "man up" has not yet entered his vocabulary. Shitty little Spanish men.
It's no wonder Napoleon ran all over them and that Sir Francis Drake sacked not only the Armada but also Cadiz (twice), nor the fact that in the capital city of the Basque country - Vitoria, in the main square, they have a massive statue of an Irish born man, the Duke of Wellington, nor the fact that if you go to the Cape of Trafalgar, the viewing point of the most important naval battle in history you can't even see a plaque to commemorate the demolition of the Spanish and French navies, there is just a lighthouse. We commemorate our victories and our successes, but not the Spanish. Shit men that should never have the word "hombre" associated with them, as "girl" would be more apt. My daughter would cry less.
So, what to do? Be a Saxon and wield an emotional axe at both? That could be done, but probably not a fruitful exercise either way. Forget the two? The first can't be forgotten, as there are two little ones involved. Maybe at the end of the day it's just better to be lonely and stare at four blank white walls, or paint them black and then look at four blank black walls, at least then the room would reflect the feeling in my heart.
I will start this piece with a disclaimer, in that it is an opinion piece that will contain certain statements that can be countered with alternative arguments. In no way is it written to be an authoritative text or an academic level analysis of fact, and should not be read as such. NB. If you are not interested in gaming in general or games consoles specifically, this is you last chance to bail out and preserve your sanity.
It's now over a year since the Playstation 4 was first officially announced to the world at a special Sony Playstation Meeting event in New York City on the 22nd of February 2013, mostly confirming the rumours of its specifications that were steadily leaked little by little over the previous year when it was known by its codename Orbis.
Playstation Meeting Feb 2013 - Full
At this time many were surprised that the Playstation 4 was actually more powerful than predictions about its specifications from a year earlier, and especially by the inclusion of 8 Gigabytes of fast 176 Gigabytes per second GDDR5 memory. A year previous many people were predicting that the Xbox One would be the more powerful machine and be launched at a cheaper price; many of the reasons for which were put down to the poor financial state that Sony as a whole found and still today finds themselves in. The reality is stark, Sony as a whole has assets totalling approximately $155 billion, yet its market capitalisation value is a meagre $18.5 billion, less than what Facebook recently paid for WhatsApp, and has a credit rating of junk. Yes, a small start-up messaging service with around 60 employees is worth more than a global conglomerate with around 160,000 employees worldwide. So much for capitalism!
In the meantime, a company with a market capitalisation of around $320 billion, assets of $143 billion, and 100,000 employees was buy preparing its next entry into the console space which was codenamed Durango, now known as the Xbox One. This machine, announced on the 21st of May 2013 in a special Microsoft event held at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington, close to Seattle. Unfortunately this event mostly focused on the media and multi-tasking capabilities of the Xbox One (including a new Kinect, Snap, HDMI in, IR Blasting, NFL integration, etc.) far more than the gaming aspects, something that became a problem later when it was revealed that most of what was shown was in fact at the time faked, and very little was said about the technical specifications of the new console.
Microsoft Xbox One Meeting May 2013 - Full
As time went on however, it slowly became apparent that, as with the PS4, the Xbox One specifications did in fact closely match those leaked over the past year. It's at this point that the penny finally started to drop within the enthusiast gaming community; it was true all along, the Xbox One was a significantly weaker machine to the Playstation 4, primarily due to design decisions and goals made by the Microsoft development team early in the project's lifecycle. What was even more strange was that Microsoft, despite releasing the Xbox 360 one year ealier than Sony released the Playstation 3, serious design work on the Xbox One did not actually start until late 2010.
Microsoft Xbox One and Design
On the other hand, Sony started to at least think about the PS4 shortly after the release of the PS3.
As we now know, both companies had very difficult goals as their starting points, which in my opinion is what has in the end give two quite different machines, even though they share the same base architecture. On the surface, their hardware façade if you like, they look very similar, but one is eight floors tall where the other is four. It can be argued that Microsoft entered the console hardware market with the original Xbox into what looked at the time to them as Sony dominating the living room with a product that was not based on their own operating systems. It is my personal opinion, and one open to debate, but I am quite sure that they reflected at the time on previous mistakes such as the admission of Bill Gates himself that he completely missed the business opportunities that would become available with the World Wide Web and other Internet technologies, and saw what Sony (a relative upstart in the console industry at the time) was doing and the successes they were having in gaining a significant presence in the home space.
As we know, Microsoft's ultimate solution to missing the Internet boat was to use a brute force method to get back into the race by utilising its almost monopoly level position at the time as the only viable and affordable provider of a desktop operating system; incidentally a path which not only proved to be highly costly due to market regulation rules and fines but also because it eventually lost that battle in any case. In fact, in terms of chasing the living room, it can be argued that they went after the wrong market altogether. Instead of having the foresight to use their monopoly position in terms of Windows as a gaming platform, developing something akin to Steam, and taking advantage of their strengths as a unified software developer and platform holder, they instead decided to play ball with companies that made electronic products, thus becoming a hardware manufacturer. With Microsoft Office, they took advantage of being the platform holder and put the rest of the competition out of business, becoming the de-facto standard in the process; building software was always something that they were good at doing from the business point of view if not from the technological one. None of their endeavours into making hardware have ever become profitable, yet here they were at the beginning chasing a market where the hardware product itself was the loss leader with the expectation that revenues would be provided through the software and service sales. The question has to be asked that if this was such a good idea, why the hell were they never making PCs?
One thing to be remembered here is that at the time of the release of the original Xbox, the entire idea of powerful phones and tablets was a total pipe dream. Even Apple almost bankrupted themselves with trying that type of thing in the mid 90s with the Apple Newton, something I always remember one of my university professors (yes foreign people, he was a professor, not a teacher or lecturer) proudly waving about as if it was an extension of his cock in 1993.
Even at the time of the release of the Xbox 360, tablet, smartphones, social media, etc. the things that are the buzzwords of today were either non-existant or a very expensive niche. They were never seen at the time to be the possible revenue generators or culture and society changers that we now see that they have become. Sony at the time was thinking in exactly the same way as Microsoft was, and just as Microsoft missed the boat with the likes of the Internet, Sony did the same with others such as the shift to flat panel displays and the digital music player (be it the iPod or not); the living room was still being chased, and the Cell processor (a project initiated in the year 2000) was designed to be just that, a chip that could process every form of entertainment from game to video to music better than anything else.
The problem is that the world changed, live television viewing is in massive decline, physical ownership of media is almost dead, and the world has gone mobile; people and especially families do no longer see the television set as the hub of their lives (I can see that when I take my children around to my mate's place - his mum is sat on a sofa with earphones on watching something on FilmOn on a tablet, his father has earphones on listening to Beethoven whilst reading an eBook, my son and his are playing FIFA 14 on the PS4, my daughter is watching some song from Violetta over YouTube on a Playstation Vita with earphones in her ears, and I'm thinking what the fuck is going on?). Yet, games, there were always games (at least the two little boys were nattering to each other whilst playing FIFA), and kids and teenagers love playing video games, that could not be done with mobile back then (still can't IMO, at least not with any depth), and game playing was a niche (well, a 150m consumer base niche - yes a niche if you consider smart device sales) as well, and that needed a TV, and non game players would never be interested - and by putting other things in (like making it a DVD player at the same time) would draw a few more in. Well. that's how it should have been, until a crazy little diamond of a Japanese company did something daft. Nintendo made the Wii! What a pile of shit! What a genius business move! What the fuck have they done?
The Social Wii Effect - WTF?
You really have to ask how and why did the video above and others far nicer than it ever become a concept or even be put into action. Did it even need the Wii? Would real bowling balls in a real bowling alley not a been a better place to shoot such a film? But lets put this into some kind of context. Before the release of the original Playstation back in 1994, gaming truly was niche, whether through the cost of entry or the total lack of general interest. To be brutally honest, it was an activity that pubescent greasy and spotty teenage boys that never had a wash and could not find a girlfriend indulged in, or people like me indulged in (yes, I never had a trouble finding birds, had a wash every day, never had knob cheese, and certainly didn't have spots) because of a fascination with the technology behind it.
The Playstation went on to sell over 102 million units worldwide on its own, which in comparison to the consoles and computers of the previous hardware generation was quite the leap. The Nintendo Super Entertainment System, or the Super Famicom as it was known in Japan, the best selling of the previous generation, managed less than 50 million, and its contemporary and competitor the Sega Megadrive (Sega Genesis) around 40 million. The best selling single model home computer of all time in the previous generation to that only managed 16 million or so, and even the mighty Nintendo Entertainment System 60 million in a virtual console monopoly position. so something was afoot.
Classic Console War Marketing Based on Bullshit
So it comes back to the living room. Despite previous failures such as the Commodore CDTV and the Phillips sponsored CDi and the 3DO, Sony just did what Sony did, with the Playstation they didn't release a games console as such, they released a living room entertainment device. This is the difference, the living room was Sony's bread and butter, they made TVs, they made HiFis, it is what they did, it was their focus - something that Microsoft didn't really understand. Sony were not trying to steal a market away from Microsoft by people not having Windows PCs plugged into their TVs, Sony were just doing what Sony did, and nobody wanted to plug a PC into their TV in any case. What Sony did with the PS1 and the PS2 was simply move the model of the game console away from purely just a gaming device, it now played CDs, it played DVDs, it was something else. That is the reason that the PS1 and the PS2 set a new trend in terms of sales of a games console in relation to the successful ones that preceded them, it brought people to the table that before would not have even thought twice about owning one, which brings us back to the Wii.
Classic Arrogant Console War Marketing Based on Fuck You! LOLZ!
When the Playstation 3 launched a year later than the Xbox 360, the Playstation 2 was sitting at around 100 million units in sales worldwide. However, for the first four to five years of the Xbox 360 and PS3 lifespans, it continued to outsell them, putting up an extra 55 million units onto the scorecard. What was going on here? Well it's rather obvious, price, massive and cheap software library, expansion into developing markets, and the rise of the casual player (there were plenty of these already at the 100m mark), brought in with features outside of gaming. PS2, Xbox, and the Nintendo GameCube collectively sold around 200m units, which is quite impressive is it not? Well, no! Discarding the length of the seventh console generation, Xbox 360 and PS3 on their own have collectively sold not that many more than the Playstation 2 did on its own, sitting at around 80 million units each. The Wii then added over another 100 million units to the count! Where did these people come from? This machine didn't even get the third party support that the other two consoles got, it wasn't like the PS2 that mostly got the lot, this was something else, and something happening in the living room - Microsoft especially had its eye on this phenomena.
The Wii and the Blue Rise Gamer
Of course, Nintendo had been bringing in players outside of the traditional gaming demographic for a while with games such as Brain Age on their Dual Screen portable system, but the Wii took this into overdrive. While the likes of Microsoft and Sony were concentrating on online multi-player anti-social gaming, harking back to the nerd sitting in his dark smelly hole of a bedroom gawking at a monitor from less than two feet away, probably with his cock in his hand, and shouting racial and sexual abuse at others playing from however far away in geographical terms, Nintendo were providing social family fun local multi-player experiences suitable for all. I personally dislike the terms of hardcore and casual gamers as it makes no sense, one is no better than the other just like an art critic is no better than a bloke that goes into an art museum to look around when he's got nothing better to do with his afternoon. Is a person that stands freezing his balls off watching a football match in a stadium every week in the dark depths of December really that more knowledgeable about football than a parson that watches it on the TV supping a beer and reclining on his big sofa in front of a roaring fire? Most likely not, both of them playing the game in the real world would most probably be just as shit as the other, difference being that the former would run up and down like a headless chicken shouting expletives all day and the latter would wander around the pitch at snails pace not really giving a shit, and the end result would be the same, both would lose 10-0. At least the person that didn't give a shit wouldn't need 20 hours of sleep after the event. What the Wii did was simply make playing games more accessible, comfortable, simple, and for many people, fun, and sold gangbusters in the process with both the hardware and the software having a high profit margin.
A Wii Fit Balance Board Prototype - Amiga Inc. Early 1980s
Nintendo didn't Invent this Shit?????
At the beginning of the PSWii60 generation the three console companies took very different approaches with their boxes. Microsoft made the most powerful gaming machine it could for the target price - concentrating initially on just that - gaming, Sony went nuts going after the living room by producing an "It Only Does Everything" box that cost too much to make, was sold at a very high price, and still lost them a shed load of money (even though it probably still is the best small form factor entertainment box that money can buy), and Nintendo simply refreshed year 2000 level old hardware and stuck waggle mechanic motion gaming onto it - you can't even say it was a fur coat and no knickers console, as it didn't even have the fur coat, it was a dirty cheap street whore dressed in a black or white bin liner bag; but who doesn't like cheap and playful things? After all, most people can't afford a high class prostitute that looks like Megan Fox and charges 50 quid per minute when the same end result can be had for a tenner from the lass around the back of the bus station at 4am in the morning and last for around the same amount of time.
From Left to Right - The Producers of the PS3, Xbox 360, and the Wii
Of course, Microsoft looked in the mirror and was chuffed, it had stolen 50% of Sony's PS2 userbase (a middle class type that had found a job good enough that it could play golf every afternoon - online), Sony looked in the mirror and cried about what it had done wrong (an upperclass thoroughbred that lived way beyond its means and now had the bailiffs knocking at the gate), and Nintendo looked in the mirror with a massive Cheshire Cat grin on its face as a big machine in the background printed money at such a rate that it was flooding the room up to the neck and still was not running out of ink or paper, or at least it seemed (a lower class country bumpkin pimp selling his whores for the price of a case of cider that had won the lottery and was now richer than the other two put together).
It was in these reflections that each company saw a message contained, something that would shape things to come. Nintendo just saw the money and planned ahead by repetition, it kept on playing the lottery but buying 100s of more tickets each time the previous winning (gambling never pays off lads, it's for fools, stay away). Microsoft saw that even though it had become relatively successful, the other two still had bits of cake that it wanted, the inevitable greed had set in. Sony had an epiphany to go back to basics. As the generation wore on, Sony put the "It Only Does Everything" concept on the back burner and ramped up its own internal studios to produce games covering a wide range of tastes and genres; Microsoft started to drop its first party AAA output and focused on pushing Kinect in an attempt to pull in the Wii userbase with another gimmick (you can say the same about Sony and the Move, but they never pushed it hard - even their own first parties were never forced to use it in any way - it was simply an evolution of things they had been working on and developing for a long time before in any case - it didn't cost a lot as like many Sony patents and prototypes, had been sitting in the lab for years, unused, unloved, and gathering dust because they generally have no clue how to utilise their assets at all, at least not how to monetise them); Nintendo meanwhile, seeing its quality third party support shrivelling from what was a dried prune in the first place, down to a burnt currant, and were living on their own first party output, Just Dance, and shovelware, dropped almost all Wii first party output resources to focus them on the then failing 3DS (something that is still going on to this day) and came up with another gimmick. Tablets and smartphones were now in full swing, the people that had bought the Wii had either moved to the Kinect gimmick because Oprah Winfrey looked like she was having so much fun waggling her fat bus-wide arse around whilst playing it, or they had gone to to a place where they could buy the same shallow experiences for $1 instead of $50 (or so they thought before their kids started running up $1000 month bills with in-app-purchases).
Yes, Geeks Can Now Pull MYLFs, because they too are Gamers!
Thanks to Kinect they Orgasm Harder to Gaming Consoles
than they do to their Husbands' Mistimed Cock Thrusting!
In Japan they have a special move controller you either stick your penis into or you stick it into your vagina, that... I digress. What happened is that both Microsoft and Nintendo seriously misjudged the market in terms of home consoles. We know what Nintendo did, they suck a tablet controller (that incidentally looks like an Etch A Sketch with some buttons added on, isn't really a tablet but a controller with a shit screen, and can't run tablet software), tablets are all the rage after all, onto a box that relatively is not much more capable (other than the RAM quantity) than the two cheaper, well supported, and eight year old consoles with a massive PS2 level combined userbase. 3DS sales get cannibalised by phones and tablets so a good strategy is to release a home console with an Etch A Sketch and then also not release any software for it because at the same time it's best to keep all of your developers pumping out 3DS titles to try and save it from the smartphone and tablet onslaught like King Knut telling the moon to go fuck itself and that it can't pull the Earth's water level in its and his direction because he was sat on a chair in its path and the moon was causing him inconvenience. He should have tried to puncture it with an arrow, but he likely did not understand gravity at the time, and helium balloons with sharp spikes sticking out of them were not going to be available for several hundreds of years, there was a vacuum in the way as a barrier, the balloon would have popped due to pressure and rubber being an unknown material, and the moon was made of cheese anyway so that would never have worked even if it did.
A Wii U Tablet
A Digital Etch A Sketch
Meanwhile, as Nintendo was practising the lines to play King Knut in the play "Google ate an Apple next to the sea and I'm a crab with no legs", over at Microsoft they were plotting a far more cunning plan.
Baldrick (What a Wanker) from Blackadder Dressed up to Face the Press
Don Mattrick, Ex-President of Microsoft Xbox Devision
It all goes back to the cake, or rather the bits of the cake that they didn't get last time round. This made sense, Microsoft had the enthusiast (core) gamer locked down in the main and secondary (UK) markets, their customers would happily replace seven or eight exploding consoles and not bat an eyelid, and pay $50 per year to call each other cunts, niggers, and faggots, it was a lock. Kinect had sold around 20 million units, so they had the casuals - look at XB360 minecraft sales duh, but what about the Sony players? What about those that bought PS3s to watch Blu-Ray movies, what about those that made the PS3 the most popular system in the USA to watch Netflix on? It was an easy decision, a box that you can control control by talking to it or waving you cock at it, and one that allows you to watch Netflix and play a game at the same time on the same screen!!!!!!!! Kill two birds with one stone, keep the casuals, keep the core, and take the living room away from Sony, IR blasting, HDMI in, live TV, jigging about, light-room, etc. etc. etc. all bases covered, can't go wrong! Stick a bit of Smartglass in as well, because Windows Phone 8 is going to sell gangbusters and put Apple and Google in their place, tie Nokia into it, buy the Nokia handset division, it can't go wrong, whoops Nokia releases Android phones in 2014 (shhhhhhhh).
The sales and marketing problem was that by this point the casuals had fucked off altogether as the quality of their experiences with both Wii and Kinect didn't justify the price of the software, and do people really want to talk to their TV or wave their bits at it when the NSA is watching and might take away your children because they change their clothes on the sofa in the morning? Windows 8 phone and its eco-system bombed harder than bomber Harris' excursions over Dresden, and Smartglass wasn't very smart at all but broken. However, that mattered not, there was still the living room, there was still that.
WARNING! WARNING! WE ARE NOW ABOUT TO TALK GOBBLEDYGOOK!
The technical problem on the other hand was that to do all of this they needed a lot of RAM and a pre-emptive multi-tasking operating system that was finely tuned to timing and resource allocation. They needed to run a Windows 8 kernal, a gaming kernal, and something else to manage the two all at the same time without ever conflicting with each other. Hmmmm! They needed 8 Gigabytes of RAM. Today that's all well and good, many PCs nowadays have more than that as their system RAM (the memory used by the central processing unit or CPU to run the instructions that make up the logic of the software and the operating system itself) and at least 2GB of fast graphics memory to push pixels about. In 2010 however that was not generally the case at all. Back then, 8 Gigabytes of high performance random access memory (the stuff used for graphics processors) was very very expensive in both chip density and the number of integrated circuits and the complexity of the board layout due to that. The only real option at the time was to use the far cheaper and low performance DDR3 RAM utilised as system or CPU RAM in PCs.
In comparison, the PS3 and XB360 both used GDDR3 graphics memory (256MB in the PS3 and 512MB in the XB360 - PS3 had another type of high performance RAM called XDR for its CPU, another 256MB) giving a total bandwidth of around 25 Gigabytes per second to the XB360 and 50 Gigabyte per second to the PS3. The Xbox 360 solution was never sufficient, so in that machine Microsoft used something that Sony had successfully used in the Playstation 2 (abandoned in the PS3), something called embedded memory, memory very close to the processing cores, and something very fast in comparison to independent satellite off the shelf memory chips. That gave the XB360 an extra 32 Gigabyte per second to its graphics processor independent to the main 512 megabyte main pool, something that gave it an edge over the PS3 in terms of simplicity and performance, yet was limited to only 10 Megabytes in total size causing other problems. This was ultimately the path that Microsoft chose to go down once more, a large but slow unified pool of memory with a smaller but very fast scratchpad to make up the difference.
At the same time (more or less) Sony was licking its wounds. It had made the decision to go back to basic and make a machine first and foremost for playing games, the living room and media capabilities that were such a focus with the Playstation 3 went out of the window, onto the back-burner, to make way for what Playstation was really about in the first place, the thing that Microsoft robbed from them, the gamers. To do this, they needed not quantity of RAM, but speed, and they faced a dilemma. They could either go down the path that Microsoft was going down (they didn't know this) and re-introduce the embedded RAM concept of the PS2, or they could go for the best most simple solution offered by the PC world - GDDR5 (or XDRII if they had continued to be a bit nuts). They chose the latter, but it would probably need to reduce the quantity of it. Did they really need 8 Gigabytes? PS3 seemed to being doing fine in the hands of their first parties with only 512 Megabytes. The first prototype of the PS4 therefore was a 2GB high speed GGDR5 memory box with a very high end GPU for its time (actually with more bandwidth than the retail release of the PS4 has).
Even following the same path to embedded RAM as Microsoft, Sony were looking at 1TB of eDRAM bandwidth rather than 102/168 GB of eSRAM bandwidth that Microsoft ended up with, but the idea was dumped for simplicity and ease of use and simplicity rather than the size and potential speed of the pools available. Fortunately however, as time went on, the amount of GDDR5 increased fro 2GB to 4GB to the final 8GB, Sony gambled on bandwidth with no sticking plasters, Microsoft did the opposite and backed the wrong horse.
The Xbox One
The Playstation 4
You can clearly see these differences in X-rays taken of the final SoCs of each console. Due to the requirement if the eSRAM to make up for the limited bandwidth provided by the DDR3 memory in the Xbox one (Only 68 Gigabytes per Second), even though the Xbox Open APU is larger than the PS4 APU, massive amounts of silicon had to be removed in order to provide space for the embedded memory. Because Micrisift made such an early decision to go with 8 Gigabytes of RAM to provide all of the multimedia capabilities that were supposed to attack Sony in its own space, the living room, and plaster up its deficiencies with a small 32 Megabyte pool of double speed embedded RAM, they intentionally had to make their combined single logic and graphics processor less powerful that it could have been. The Jaguar CPU blocks in both APUs (accelerated processing units) are at their cores identical, the graphics processors however are not.
The Playstation 4 and Xbox One Processors
The Advantages (Old, Xbox One GPU got a slight speed bump)
The known technical specifications for gaming make for hard reading for the Xbox One fanboy!
1.18TFlop (12 Compute Units)
48 Texture Units
2 ACEs/16 Queues
1.84TFlop (18 Compute Units)
72 Texture Units
8 ACEs/64 Queues
But what does this all mean? Well, the PS4 has 6 more processors that can deal with heavy floating point mathematics operations, making it almost 60% faster at such calculations, it has 50% more units to deal with textures, 100% more rasterisers (the things that finally draw the pixels), and 400% the queuing capability for general processing tasks on the GPU. The numbers are not 100% confirmed to be that as Microsoft did tweak the clock rates a little bit, but they also reserved far more chunks of both the general logic and graphics processors to deal with multi-tasking and multiple tasks rendering at the same time. The end result is likely something along the following lines. The graph is not showing real number performance figures but rather relative theoretical performance figures in x# for the GPUs in these systems with the WiiU as the baseline of 1 (Prim is short for primitive or a triangle).
Relative Processing Capabilities of Consoles Using Various Metrics and the Wii U as the Baseline.
Why is the Xbox One beating the PS4 on the primitive rate? The reason for this is because they both have the same fixed function triangle setup silicon, and with the Xbox One GPU being clocked slightly higher it can do that faster than the PS4. The same reason applies to why the PS4 pixel fill rate is not 100% that of the Xbox One, as ROPs again are linked to the clock.
At the end of the day, all arguments placed to the side, both the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 were designed with different end users in mind. The Xbox One went after the living room to be a jack of all trades and the master of none, it also went after casual gamers with the Kinect - strangely enough something they still have not released a compelling game for. Sony on the other had looked back at their success when they first entered the market with the original Playstation and went back to basics to design "A console designed for gamers by gamers". The differences between the end results of both is stark.
But that is not where it all ended! No, making a console on which was underpowered from the gaming perspective because you could actually game and watch TV at the same time wasn't enough for Mattrick and his buddies! Hell No! They also had something else up their sleeves.
Microsoft Xbox One Consumer Response Testing with Members of its Hard Fought for Loyal Userbase
At The Electronic Entertainment Expo 2013, Microsoft finally unveiled its entire master plan. Not only was this eSRAM jiggery pokery adding to the cost of the machine, the obligatory Kinect camera was adding even more. They were pulling the Sony "It Only Does Everything" trick and without saying it releasing at a $500 dollar price tag that almost mirrored Sony's infamous "Get Two Jobs" line. Not only that, they, amongst other things, announced that there would be a mandatory Internet connection required, the Kinect would constantly be watching you have a wank, and no there would be no used game sales. The gaming world did not like this AT ALL! The problem was that at that E3 they went first, and they did finally show some games instead of NFL integration, but the damage was done, because up next was Sony who announced that they were doing any of that, they had the more powerful machine, and it was going to be $100 cheaper because of it. It caused an interesting reaction to say the least.
Playstation 4 Price and Policy Announcements and Crowd Reactions - E3 2013
This eventually caused Microsoft to do their infamous 180 u-turn due to incredible consumer backlash, yet they still didn't learn. To this day they still make public relations statements trying to dismiss the power advantage that the Playstation 4 has over the Xbox One. Instead of concentrating their message on their unique selling points they continue to engage in a battle they cannot technologically win, and this continues to cause consumer apathy and distrust.
Microsoft after Unvieling its plan to the general Public
As of the beginning of March of 2014 it is estimated that Xbox one has sold 3.8 million units worldwide in comparison to the Playstation 4s 6 million in just over three months. If this continues to be a trend, Microsoft could find themselves in a similar position to that where they found themselves with the original Xbox. Nintendo of course is in a far worse position with an estimated 5.5 million units sold in 16 months, and their current plight shows that success can turn to failure very quickly if the market as a whole and especially its trends are misread.
So, as a consumer it is down to what you want from these boxes. If you want a box that is $100 more expensive, significantly less powerful in the context of running games, and includes a camera that you must buy whether you want it or not, in exchange for operating the box with voice from the system level up (this is done using a dictionary on both, not real natural language processing), operating it with gesture from the system level up, being able to merge the video output with that of another external source, control all of your other IR controlled equipment in the same room, and run games next to a plethora of other things that you most likely have on other devices anyway, then the Xbox One is for you.
If you want a box with a focus on running games first and foremost, then PS4 is for you. Of course, certain people will say that the extra horsepower in the PS4 does not make the games better, but this is clearly a nonsense statement. It can lead, if used to its potential, to many game enhancing facets, from improved AI, greater immersion through increased sound and graphical fidelity and effects, more realistic physics simulations, greater frame-rates and increased input response for less lag, higher number of on-screen objects, smoother general operation even for simple little things (for example GPU in the PS4 being used, due to it being far better at copying data around than the CPU, for far more efficient defragmentation of the memory of both CPU and GPU - something that cannot be done in the PC space), etc. In addition, as it stands, Microsoft simply cannot compete with Sony in terms of their first party output, so unless they pay significant monetary incentives to external publishers and developers, the PS4 will always have a larger and higher quality exclusive game lineup. Halo is clearly the jewel in Microsoft's rather small crown attracting a large audience of fans of both the games and its lore, but can it move on and compete with the likes of the upcoming Titanfall and the new game from the creators of Halo - Destiny? Will that one title (Halo) be able to sell the console beyond the core gaming audience when the vast majority of third party titles, and thus the majority of the game library as a whole, performs much better on the competitor console?
I have never been of the opinion that traditional games sell consoles outside of that hardcore or fan market niche, rather it is the consoles, for whatever reason, that sell the games either through user base and thus game library size (depth and range) or gimmicks and other unique features such as the motion control concept that drove the Wii to incredible success. Mario games for example do not sell consoles as can historically be seen during the N64 and Gamecube eras, yet boasted huge sales on the Wii due to its install base built on the aforementioned motion controls that drew in significant numbers of new console buyers through titles such as Wii Sports and Wii Fit. If you have a large user base, those people will want something to play every now and then, so of course you can sell games in the tens of millions to them, especially when you have a situation where very little high quality support for your platform comes from third parties.
Microsoft's approach is an interesting one, and only time will tell if the path they have chosen will in the mid-to-long term prove to be a stroke of genius or a massive and costly mistake. They are banking on the concept of running multiple applications and services together on the same screen (as opposed to an accompanying handheld device being used) and the viability of the rapidly decreasing broadcast television sector as opposed to the IP based on-demand model. In a world where soon almost every new TV set will include the vast majority of the Xbox One's unique features (voice, apps, gesture and motion control, video source mixing, etc.) and where the Xbox One could become the input rather than the receiver, it could be argued that Microsoft are chasing a fool's gold in a rapidly changing world that they seem oblivious to.
On the other hand, the Xbox One does have the advantage over Smart TVs in that it is far more powerful and will remain so for the vast majority of its lifetime. In the end it will all come down to whether people outside of the core gaming audience are willing to jump onboard Microsoft's vision and embrace it to the full, or whether these people are happy with what they already have on mobile and other household devices. The key here is whether the modern quantity over quality phenomena persists, and as we have seen with the explosion of compressed video and audio material, whether ease of use and a single appliance point of use rises above fidelity of output. For those happy, and in some cases arguing for the negligible benefits of increased graphical output, with the fidelity of the games that the XBox One is capable of putting on show this is already clearly happening; there are people quite happy to run games in 720p on their 1080p TV sets, there are people willing to put hundreds of hours into playing the likes of Candy Crush and Angry Birds on their telephones, and people who think that 128Kbps compressed audio sounds better than uncompressed audio. Can Microsoft win these people over even with a higher price point than the competition? Only you can help them to do so.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes - Playstation 4
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes - Xbox One Left, Xbox 360 Right
As a short epilogue it is relevant to note that in practice Sony could match all of the features of the Xbox One with either a simple external unit connected to the PS4 via USB (TV for example was handled this way on the PS3 via PlayTV - yes you could record live TV at the same time as running a game) which does in some ways spoil the aesthetics of the unit and takes up one of the two valuable USB ports, or maybe a more expensive higher-end SKU (as a similar concept to the unsuccessful and only released in Japan PSX). To what extent the ARM processor in the PS4 (which is likely to have its own mobile class GPU and similar in concept to the mythical Toshiba Super Companion Chip which can be seen here that was in the original PS3 designs but for whatever reason, likely cost, never made it into production PS3s - if anything Xbox One seems to be a slight refinement of Kutaragi's original vision for the PS3) can help with running applications at the same time as games is as yet unclear, or whether Sony could go down the route of external processing similar to several patents filed by Sony for PS3 compatibility via USB (an example of which can be seen here), but both approaches are technically feasible. Microsoft on the other hand are stuck with what they have, with the only option being to remove features (something that Sony was heavily criticised for during the life of the PS3) if the project is in future seen to be unsuccessful and misguided in its vision by Microsoft executives, leading to an awkward splitting of the user base and a lack of compatibility between older and newer models in regards to the more legacy type titles in the software catalogue (both games and applications).
Whatever way this pans out one thing is for sure, it will be interesting to watch with some inevitable internet fanboy breakdowns along the way and the possibility of executive heads rolling in their own blood. The entire existence of the Sony conglomerate as we know it could be in jeopardy, and the closure or spinning off of the XBox division a distinct possibility. The gaming landscape eight years from now is likely to look very different than it does today and it is you, the consumer, that will shape it.
I've now had enough. I might at some point come back and correct any errors, but for now I hope that all of you that read that load of shit hate me for it as much as you should. Oh, I could also really do with a proof reader and an editor, because there is no way I'm going to read through all of that without a 24 hour break!
I could possibly add a lot more here and a lot more detail, but fuck it, if you have a question, ask away.
And Lambo can go fuck himself with his comments!
With the discussion started by the member Sepp Blatter here, which invoked a private discussion with a moderator of this forum, and a reflection back to my previous blog entry, I thought that I would share my memories of a previous CAF breakaway saga that many of you probably don't know the full details of. I'll put a disclaimer here first though stating that these are my memories and that the dates will probably not be entirely accurate, including the chronological order that it happened in; some of the names might also be wrong, but I doubt that's so important, they can sue me. Most of the CAF archives about the incident are also dead and buried when the old General Forum was abandoned to suck up to Google. This tale is both funny and sad at the same time, but highlights what can happen when moderation of a forum is too lax, the forum attracts what can only be described as the mentally ill, and then forum moderation becomes too harsh to deal with that. It also serves as a reminder that forums can co-exist and that the "parent" forum is part of the history of any breakaway forum whether people see it as such or not. Glazer his hated, yes, by many, yet some of those that ran of to FCUM and wiped their hands of the real United went too far. Some of you may be interested and some of you might not, but all in all, removing Google from the equation, it does go some way to explaining how and why moderation policy changed on the CAF from its lowly beginnings to the behemoth it is today. Hope that some of you enjoy it and apologies to those that don't.
Once upon a time, there was a poster called WeasteDevil - a newbie to the CAF (without a newbie forum). He was a happy go lucky type of chap that had recently moved to Spain from his home town of Manchester and had trouble adapting to both the way of life and the language spoken in a city that never saw any tourists at all. So, in order to have some sort of social life in his own language, in June 2001 he joined a website that we all know as The CAF. All was well, banter was great, there was no newbie forum (although new registrations were vetted in an open/closed window system), most people knew what they were talking about in regards to football and United (apart from the scousers obviously, who were there to laugh at, or in the case of some like Davo, laugh at and with). I then went to Ireland to work in 2003 and never posted for 8 months or so. When I finally did return, there it was, a newbie forum! "what the fuck is this?" asked Weaste, and was soon after given access to it. Eight months is a long time to be away from a forum, and in that newbie and just recently promoted to the mains were a group of funny but strange posters, the Top Reds as they liked to call themselves; another term was the Warrington Massive (or something like that). This group of posters included the likes of Big Andy, Wobbly, Shane, Ground Side, French Henry, Looking Busy, WelshRed, Mozza, Murt, K-Stand, Duabai Devil, this strangely likeable but frustrating arse of a Tottenham fan called Slabber, and more - many of whom turned out to be unsavoury as we will see.
At first they started off harmless enough posting pictures of their matchday jaunts together, photoshops of them with bottles of Corona up their arses, and so on. Then they started with the Top Reds shit, going after and abusing OOTers as not real fans (strange really as two of them at least were from Warrington and St Helens - almost scousers in my mind), then started attacking the women with the infamous post-line "gashout", which at one point is all that they would ever use to reply to a female poster no matter what she said. Unsurprisingly a few of them fucked off. Previously there was a refuge site called Hypersky, which was owned by Raoul and was very similar to this one in a way (although not public, it was invitational only) where people would run away from the muppets in times of outrage. It had some good posters, including some of the oldies like UKBob, RedPat (now sadly deceased), EdTheRed, etc. - it was also called a clique on the CAF when its existence became known. When Raoul shut that down (I think because he went off to War in Iraq or Afghanistan as he was a US Reservist if I remember), Livvie and some others set up another refuge using some free forum website, but I can't remember the name, and that was used instead, and was the place where the females retreated from the gashout gang.
In the meantime, back over at the CAF, the antics of the Warrington Massive (or whatever they were called) was starting to get out of hand and moderation started to become stricter - for the better in this case. At this point I was not an Admin on the CAF, just a normal poster with a rather large post count, or at least it was back then, some people have already surpassed my once mighty post total in the era when Davo was still the king of posts. I digress however, but this heavier moderation caused a little bit of a rumpus and Slabber decided to start the first thread for the election of a president that would represent the interests of the posters with the admin (there were no moderators at this juncture), and the admin for a laugh even offered to let the winner into the Admin room/forum as a guest to monitor their decisions. Anyway, round one went by, round 2, etc. until the very final round.
My Election Campaign Poster
Round One Voting
Final Round Voting (forged)
As I always thought that the late Slabber (he was alright I suppose, just a bit mentally warped and prone to chucking his dummy out of his pram for nothing very much) was a bit of a turd, on the last night of voting in the final round he was late with the results because he was getting pissed down the pub. Interestingly I had already counted them as I was making the graphs, so I thought I'd have a bit of fun. What I did was change the votes a little so that Slabber didn't win (he did get the most votes) and Big-Andy did instead. I then made a post along the lines of "I have been nominated by the mods to count and declare the votes in Slabber's absence" and posted the false results. Livvie, god bless her, then naively locked the thread and Big-Andy was declared the president, until Slabber came back drunk and threw a hissy fit, including saying that he'd never post again unless I was banned from MehCafe (was never going to happen). This was the result....
Slabber Going Nuts with Weaste
A few days later he ended up in the forum I mentioned earlier, the refuge to the CAF that Livvie had set up. It was there that I apologised (I think) and asked him why if he and his cronies were so disillusioned with the CAF, why didn't they start up their own forum. Of course he had no clue how to do this and asked me to do it for him, to which I agreed and created this...
Early Screenshot of RDR, what was to become Red Republik
Slabber, Spoony and I (Super Admin) were the administrators, and Slabber and Spoony vigorously set about gaining members and spreading the word by PMing people on the CAF, and one by one they all came over and had a forum in the fashion of exactly what they wanted; it even had a hardcore porn forum, it was anything goes really, and they were happy. Unknown to them all however, I had created a back door into the forum where the CAF admin could monitor them and what they were up to without actually being seen (they could even see the admin forum and watch Slabber and Spoony's recruiting campaign unfold - PMs at the CAF were turned off for some people due to this). In the meantime I had been invited to become an admin on MehCafe (same time as Sultan as it happens), and I announced this in the RDR admin room. Obviously Slabber went nuts, asking for my resignation and demanding the Super Admin keys, to which I refused - this is what then sparked their plan to breakaway again and created what became RR (Red Republik) to be built by a rather boring CAF poster who claimed that he was highly experienced in Linux server administration and paid for by all of them. After a few days though I gave Slabber the Super Admin keys anyway and was promptly banned from the website that I created for them. Such is life!
Unknown to them however, all of the graphics were stored in my Photobucket, so I actually change the name of the banner GIF you can see above and renamed another one to that used by the RDR website. It was this, which I will leave as a link (the reason why will become quite apparent when you click on it)
Clearly that made the site totally unusable for them, and took their members with so-called computer experience several hours to realise what had gone on and fix it. This caused much rage and started what is now remembered as the first forum war. As I said, they were an unsavoury lot, and Photoshopped modified photos of some members, including me and GB, were posted on a regular basis, generally depicting me as a paedophile and GB, who had unwisely posted photos of his trip to Thailand (many contained him with his arm around some bird he met there), as an under-age tranny fucker. One by one they were banned, and bit by bit skat porn started to flood the newbie of the CAF. Moderation went into overdrive mostly spearheaded by me.
Over at Red Republik however, another game was afoot, and due to the general unsavoury nature and mental instability of the members there a massive argument ensued, leading to another breakaway forum called Surgical Aplomb and led by the likes of Slabber, Revelz, and R2D2. The war was now a three way thing with the CAF getting it from both of them (Skat porn to regular DNS attacks) and RR getting battered from Surgical Aplomb. The administrator of RR that I mentioned above however wasn't really that good at what he did, certainly not up to the standard that he led them to believe, and it was promptly hacked into from SA, something to this day still blamed on Revelz (Who incidentally is alright and is on my PSN friend list - total Playstation junky, seems to be playing 24hrs per day with it). All sorts of things were changed, admins kicked out, secret forums accessed etc. It was there that it was found out that RR itself had had another split as one member (can't remember who) had been shagging Looking Busy's bird and some had taken different sides. From that point on almost all attacks on MehCafe ceased from the direction of RR and only SA were left to carry on with their childish antics (some of which still go on to this day), but even that died down to basically a nothing - but it is the main reason why the newbie on the CAF will never be taken down - one reason why I deleted myself as an admin.
What am I trying to get at here anyway? Well, breakaways as a concept are not necessarily a bad thing and can be a good thing as long as there is no resentment towards the "parent" website (as is the case here and was with Hypersky and the one that Livvie set up), and unsavoury sorts with a twinkle in their eyes that just want to watch the world burn are kept at bay - this is dangerous in itself however, because as the multiple RR splits show, Internet warriors can turn on people who were previously their bestest e-mates in the world. Which leads us back to the begging paragraph of this rambling of history and what Sepp Blatter has been trying to promote. Get too big, be too lenient, and at one stage something ugly will inevitably rear its head, and never forget where you're coming from, respect your parents, and don't shit on your own doorstep (definitely don't go shagging your mates' wives or girlfriends - it won't end well).
A Classic Unstable Forum Poster
That is the very last entry in this blog that I will ever make on this topic, but as an afterthought, this was me and Big Andy during happier times.
With the birth of this new website one thing is abundantly clear, and it is also something that has been a reoccurring event at various times over the last twelve years or so. Why it happens exactly is anyone's guess, but from the likes of Hypersky to Red Republik (if it is still called that) to Surgical Aplomb and others, from time to time certain groups of posters feel the need to either build a recluse from MehCafe or break away from it entirely for a variety of different reasons. This website seems to be one born from frustration at the administration policies (some of which are now bordering on the draconian) currently followed by MehCafe, something I've warned about for years and some part of which I deleted myself from MehCafe as an admin some seven or so years ago.
MehCafe is a very different place to what it was when I first joined back in the summer of 2001, and also has become a victim of its own success. The sheer size of the place has increased server and bandwidth costs to the point where it can no longer exist without mass advertising to pay for it, and with the likes of the totally hypocritical Google refusing to place ads on it unless it is censored in a particular way has led to it becoming a sterile place full of brain-dread fanatical pubescent teenagers that you can't say boo-to-a-goose to without getting your wrists slapped. One of the great things about the CAF is that it always had a sense of decency to the moderation, with the likes of racism and wide-berth political views frowned upon (unlike certain instances in the past over at the likes of Red Issue and RAWK) whilst still allowing a good level of adult banter, but the recent developments of not being able to even utter the word "fuck" or telling someone to take a walk on the M62 are approaching the ridiculous.
MehCafe needs to take a good long hard look at itself, where it is going, and what it might become. Yes, it is still the most popular independent United website of them all, but that could easily change if the current policies being followed drive away the most knowledgeable and mature posters and replace them with an entirely different demographic altogether. Will people really want to stick around or become a new member if all they see are threads filled with LOL smilies, one sentence nonsense, or intelligible drivel and unreasonable hatred fueled rantings? I would suggest not. Instead of chasing quantity (in terms of the userbase) maybe they should have gone for quality and kept the number of members at a manageable level where just basic advertising could hold the site up without Google telling them what they can and cannot do even when Google itself does exactly the opposite. Only time will tell its fate.
Which leads on to this website. Unlike some previous breakaways this particular one is rather unique in that the members that have set it up are not unsavoury sorts that you wouldn't piss on if they were on fire, but decent blokes frustrated with the shackles of living with a forum now built to accommodate children. This in itself bodes well for its success, but it too has to be aware of the pitfalls and the fate that has fallen upon MehCafe and make sure that it too, if it becomes popular enough, does not fall into the same trap. No newbie is required, no silly censoring, just strong even-handed moderation and hard work to achieve the goals. Get too big though and things become problematic, but there are various ways to deal with that (which I may or may not go into at a later date). Either way I wish the owners, moderators, and founding members of the site all the best in this endeavour and applaud what you are all trying to do here. Don't try to take on the CAF at its own game would be my advice and don't be disappointed if you don't get masses of users, as taking on MehCafe directly will eventually ruin what this site currently is and inevitably lead to failure. Taking on MehCafe is also not an easy thing to do.
Which leaves me! What am I supposed to do? Leaving the CAF for me is not an option I am willing to consider, as I've been there far too long. However, I will try to post here as much as I can, and I'm looking forward to posting in a football forum again without all of the lunatics running around. However, I will still post on the CAF. I know that some of the founder members here have been banned from there unjustly, and I know that some have expressed to never post on there again, but I'm going to keep fighting to put the place right as best as I can. Let's see how it all goes.
Anyway, enough of my ramblings on this topic - what am I going to use this blog for? I'm actually not quite sure, but I think that I'll post entries on a variety of topics from football to politics to technology to sex to whatever.