When I first heard about Netflix, I thought two things. One, there was obviously some catch I was missing. $10 a month to watch as many physical copies as I wanted, but I could also stream content on a computer? Yeah no, there's gotta be a catch. But two, I also really didn't care initially. We still had a Blockbuster down the road and a Hollywood Video closer than that.
Then they closed. Then I heard about the streaming through the consoles. I thought "ah what the hell, I'll try it." Now I can't speak more highly of it. There is no catch and there's plenty of competition on the way, especially with things like the Blockbuster Movie Pass which aims to do the same thing, but also integrate physical copies of games as well and have local stores as dropoff points as an additional option.
This may eventually lead to a game streaming service as well, but that all stems back to what I think a console should be and should be doing: gaming. Ever since the PS2, I've been able to use my console for more than just playing games. Actually, I could say the PS1 with CDs, but I was fortunate enough to have a boombox back then and had gotten into listening to MP3s on the computer, so that level of integration never really took off for me. The PS2. It only does games, movies, and music. But mostly games. And that's fine.
But watching DVDs on it? Hell, I still do that with my PS2 to this day. The only thing I'm worried about is butting into my game time and what my game time is. See, I'm all for having a console that can do it all, provided it does what it needs to do best: playing the damn game. Who cares if I have the ability to play music CDs, movies, TV shows, music videos, give me online news, allow me to access weather reports, and make me coffee if it can't PLAY A FUCKING GAME.
Worse still, what if, because of all the things that are being added to make it "more accessible by a wider audience" it eventually gets slower, more laggy, and requires higher Internet speeds, etc. just to be able to do what it's always been meant to do since its inception: play games. That thought doesn't scare me so much as annoys me, because I know the answer. It will happen. And Sony and Microsoft really won't care as long as they can turn a profit.
I'm not mentioning Nintendo here yet because I'm not familiar with their new stuff and so far everything is kept as separate apps. But imagine this. You're playing Gears of War 3 or something and in between matches online, because you have Netflix, an ad pops up saying "Like Gears of War 3? You should check out The Expendables, now available on Netflix streaming!" "HRRR GRRR AAAARRGHHH MRRRRAHHHH!!1" or whatever he says to elicit a positive response.
Sounds handy, right? Except think about it this way. Yes, that's just between matches and it's based on your assumed like of the game and the fact that you have Netflix. Let's also assume there is a button you could hit to automatically add it to your queue. Again, sounds handy, right? But eventually that shit might litter up the entire match.
"Like headshots? Then you'll love-" "SHUT THE FUCK UP I'M STILL PLAYING." "Like stfu n00bs? Then you-" "GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!1" Sure sure, I'm just being paranoid. Right? ...right? Aggressive marketing campaigns and a dwindling economy say otherwise. At my last job I was working high level tech support. Then they wanted us to start selling. I was fired a few months later...oh, but not because I couldn't sell! Right.
Maybe I'm overthinking this and perhaps that's true, but keep in mind the two major companies right now aren't Sega and Nintendo; it's Sony and Microsoft. Sony is a multimedia giant and Microsoft is a previously established OS company. So seriously, with that in mind, why WOULDN'T this happen? Granted, I don't think it'll happen quite to the level I'm envisioning for the purposes of this article, but it could come close. "Netflix and a bunch of other non-game stuff has been forcibly added to your console. Thanks for your money! Oh, what's that? Backwards compatibility? Err, uhh, yeah...we'll get right on that. *snicker*"
Now strangely, I don't think it will happen from the other angle or if it does, I don't think it'll matter much. Currently there are no ads on Netflix (and frankly it needs to stay that way), but I don't think anyone would be upset if it popped up while loading or buffering a movie with "Like Goodfellas? Then you'll love Mafia 2!" If anything, that would refocus what the console is all about and help us bring more syndication to games and movies alike.
It's funny, really. I don't mind that happening for my movies and TV shows, but goddamn'd if I'm going to let them do that with my games. Honestly, I don't even mind in-game advertising, provided it doesn't slow down or hurt the game itself. I guess that's really what I care about: possible latency, forced advertising, and ads that could potentially take you out of the game entirely for a sales pitch.
As long as it doesn't hurt the game, I'm very meh. But we as gamers need to remind the developers that we game because we game, not because we do everything BUT game.
LOOK WHO CAME: