Video Games And The Age Of Inconvenience

When I was young I used to wait for video games to load. I would press play on a cassette player. My computer would emit bleeps and I would wait. I would look at expensive attachments in magazines. Disk drives that reduced loading times to 30 seconds. I would paw at the pages of the magazine with an uncontainable tech-lust.

"Mum, I neeeed this."

But by the time I was 11 years old the idea that I had to wait for a video game to load had already become an absurdity. My Super Nintendo games loaded as quickly as I could clunk-click them into the cartridge slot.

Fast forward to May 22, 3am. I sit and watch as a man flips effortlessly between games, music and television — a thing I've been doing since I discovered the 'AV' button on my TV remote control. I watch as he waits for applause and then, miraculously, receives it.

This is progress. This is entertainment's Brave New World. Doing the same thing you did before, more clumsily, less precisely than you did it before. Because it's fancy.

Because we can I suppose.

——————

We live in the age of inconvenience. Technology is supposed to make things simpler but the way we access our video games is becoming increasingly complex.

The aftermath of the Xbox One press conference played out like a bad Monty Python sketch. No-one would discuss how the Xbox One dealt with used games, or friends lending games to others. Then they did talk, which made things worse.

Dozens of contradictory statements from multiple different sources; official twitter accounts contradicted the contradictions. Soon there were a hundred different versions of the same rumour chasing each other across the internet tubes like some fucked-up post-modern version of the end credits from the Benny Hill show.

At this stage very little can be derived from that circus of misinformation, but we can be sure of one thing: whatever solution Microsoft has, whether it's ethically sound or not, will not be simple. It will be complicated. The fact that not one executive was able to explain how used games will work in a single, bullshit free sentence is testament to that fact. The solution will be difficult. It will be clumsy. It will be inconvenient.

When did the act of buying and playing video games become such a bloated, inconvenient process, how did we get to this point?

Everyone's at it. Video games should be more accessible than ever. This is the end goal of every company looking to grow its audience but first parties seem intent on creating a terrifying amount of needless obstacles. We used to clunk-click cartridges easily into slots, nowadays the act of downloading and installing a video game can seem paralysingly difficult.

Last weekend I had it in mind to download Super Metroid for my Wii U. It took me over an hour to achieve this simple task. My Wii U lost my stable net connection five times whilst downloading a massive, mandatory update. And then, worryingly, the connection dropped out during payment. Then, hilariously, it dropped out again as I tried to download the game.

The whole process took me an hour. I'm going to go ahead and guess that Joe Blow consumer would have given up after 10 minutes. And with good reason.

When did the act of buying and playing video games become such a bloated, inconvenient process, how did we get to this point?

——————

I am 32 years old. I play video games. I'm passionate about them. I am willing to undergo severe levels of stress to purchase and then play video games. I stare at the PlayStation Vita gathering dust on my bedside table and I'm a little afraid.

There's a game I want to download and play on my Vita but I don't know where to start.

I don't want to buy the same game twice, but I've forgotten the log-in details to the PSN account on my PS3. Sure I can get the password, but the account is tied to an old work email account that I can no longer access.

Then there's the storage issue. The memory card that came with the PS Vita is extremely small. Mandatory installs for games I've already played on the device means I have very little space available. Even if I was able to log into my PSN account, I probably wouldn't have enough storage left to download the game I paid for.

Then there are the updates. There's bound to be updates. And everyone knows how painful it is to download updates on a Sony device.

How long will this all take? Is it really worth it?

Technology is supposed to make things easier, more accessible, but Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have missed the memo.

You can switch between TV, video games and music. 20 years have passed since I clunk-clicked a cartridge into my Super Nintendo. This is the endgame.

I am 32 years old. I consider myself pretty tech savvy. But I leave my bedroom. My PlayStation Vita continues to gather dust. Too much hassle.


Comments

    This is progress. This is entertainment’s Brave New World. Doing the same thing you did before, more clumsily, less precisely than you did it before. Because it’s fancy.

    How so? I watched the reveal and thought it was amazing. How exactly was the voice controlled hot switching that was shown "the same thing you did before, more clumsily, less precisely than you did it before"?

    Last edited 27/05/13 3:12 pm

      Kinect just LOVES Scottish and Irish accents.

      Have you used a Kinect this generation? The voice recognition on that thing works, at best, 25% of the time. Even with massive improvement, I doubt it's now magically a perfect gadget, so every time it fails it is doing something more clumsily than if you would have just hit the button to do it. Simple as that.

        Yeh, current gen Xbox Kinect sucks, it runs off the Xbox 360's processor. I have a bit more faith in the next-gen Kinect though considering the improvements it's made in hardware.

        I wish all these people comparing new tech with old tech would at the very least reserve their judgement until they tried a demo.

          Why not? They promised the same thing last time and now they're promising it'll work. If things like Siri and Google Now still have problems with tone and accents, how would the Kinect's voice recognition be any better?

            Because of the improvements made in hardware. Google/Siri and current-gen Kinnect don't have these issues because the tech doesn't exist, they have them because of how they're trying to deliver them; either through cloud powered technology because the phone doesn't have the processer for it or through a device that was designed for something else.

            Next-gen Kinect is now a piece of hardware solely dedicated to this task, it's what sets it apart.

              It was never a problem with hardware, so you're suggesting a false solution. If it's cloud based, which the Kinect and smartphones are, they pull data in from a remote server. The Kinect is just a fancy camera with a microphone, it doesn't do any voice calculation on its own. I compared it to Siri or Google Now, because Apple and Google both collect significantly more user speech data than the Kinect ever will and if they still have these problems, why would the Kinect be immune?

              It looks great on stage because it's an engineered scenario, just like the first Kinect before that. The in-built microphone and console processor are more than capable of theoretically providing perfect returns, the problem has always been the data back-end which Microsoft still hasn't fixed on either first Kinect or their Windows Phone OS.

              Last edited 28/05/13 10:33 pm

        It's not voice recognition. It is speech recognition. They are two totally different technologies.

      Because pressing a button is usually faster than uttering words with more than one syllable. And also - how much fun do you have with voice prompts in phone menus, like ordering a taxi? It'd be just like that, I reckon. Eye-stabbingly frustrating.

        Have you used the new generation Kinect? Your comment is flawed.

          Damn near no-one has used the new generation Kinect. Your argument is as flawed as this tiger-repellant. I've included in my comment. Garaunteed to protect you from tiger mauling. Go ahead and look outside. I bet you don't see any tigers.

        I use voice control a fair bit on my WP8 device to call people and send messages, however you can't compare a device that was specifically made for this function to a device that was made with voice control as an extra feature.

      It took Microsoft a year to get the Australian accent down... it still has trouble understanding me.

      Until I can make it switch intentionally every time it's clumsier than pushing the button that always works.

      my thoughts exactly.. this article kind of missed the mark a bit for me. I can see where there was attempt to connect a few things and make them relevant to each other.. but yer.. for me.. didn't work.

      * I do however agree with the wii U comment... we do seem to have to jump through hoops now in certain scenario's that we shouldnt.

    Absolute first class writing here, Mark.

      What he said. Always a pleasure to read Mark's stuff

        Actually guys I have to disagree (on this article).

        Personal thoughts obviously. I agreed with some of the points, disagreed with others but that actual writing, missed the mark for me. Don't think the points all actually connected as well as intended.

    Hold on, since when does the Vita have mandatory installs? Also I would argue that you losing your password is not a flaw in Sony's design or Sony making it difficult for you, that's a problem entirely of your own making. The updates on Vita are extremely quick as well, especially compared to PS3.

    I don't disagree with the main thrust of what you're saying here but I don't think it's fair to single out the Vita specifically. I've actually found it to be one of the more convenient devices, rather than less convenient.

      But I didn't single out the Vita -- I spoke about three different platforms!

      And sure, you can blame the consumer (me) for being lax about usernames and passwords, but Sony is the one that will lose my money in the end.

        WHat would be a better recovery system, in your opinion? Mobile number? Alternate email requirements?

        Convenience comes at a cost, and I'd rather they not compromise security to give you convenience when you haven't kept your account linked to an active email address and forget your password, personally.

        I reacted to the Vita call-out specifically because my experience with the system has been the opposite. Want to talk about inconvenient? 3DS. Purchases locked to the console, no proper accounts system, slow menus, glacial download speeds, region lockout on games, region lockout on Ad-Hoc WiFi for many games, limited-play demos...

        I'd hold fire on declaring Xbone 'inconvenient' just yet too. Wait until it's out. Sure, it has actual issues, but IMO they're not issues of convenience, they're of privacy and ownership. You can guarantee that they'll have put a lot of work into making the actual experience as seamless and smooth as possible.

          I think the point was less a direct hardware attack and more of a musing about how the convenience of simply PLAYING or buying a game has become more complex as opposed to more convenient.
          It doesn't matter what your personal experience with a console is, the point remains, playing games just isn't as simple as it once was.
          Instead of clunk and click, you NEED user accounts, security, authenticators, all layered on top of DRM, internet connectivity ect.
          The point in my opinion wasn't that Mark lost his password and the system should have been better, its that for an industry that is progressing, it's getting harder and harder to just ENJOY a game. It makes you miss the days where playing games was as simple as plugging it in and turning it on.

        Well I have my username and password stored in my Vita, with my credit card hooked up to my PSN account. If someone stole my Vita they could buy maybe a few hundred dollars worth of games. But hey, it's convenient. I don't think your argument is valid in this instance Mark. You have the option to do it conveniently, but you choose not to.

        Can you not log into your account on PS3 and change the email?
        I remember having to do that with my 360 because it was tied to an old account.

        (Also, I hope that game is Guacamelee, which I know it isn't because you can play it on PS3 anyway)

          As I recall, if you try to change your password on your PS3 you must supply your old password.

          If you can't supply your old password, you go through the usual message-to-email method that everybody uses, and which is not accessible in this case.

          Which goes to show, never rely on the stability of an email address tied to something that may change. In particular, never use work email for private purposes. You will lose access if you find another job, and your work probably has policies which are not 100% appropriate for your private email.

        What was that whole second part, then? You're unfairly singling out Sony for something that a) you didn't keep track of your current emails, it's almost as if you expect an account provider of any kind to be psychic, and b) needing to be updated, like pretty much anything else on the planet?

        Last edited 27/05/13 6:38 pm

          Singled out? He complained about not getting a straight answer from Microsoft, he complained about how to buy Super Metroid on the Wii U it took forever and lost connection multiple times and you think he singled out the Vita?

            You obviously completely ignored the second half of the article.

              You do realise what singled out means right, if only the second half is about the Vita than it wasn't singled out.

              And as great as the Vita is the decision to use proprietary memory cards was a big screw you because we can for the consumer when I argue SD cards would have done the job just as well and much cheaper.

                the complaints about microsoft and nintendo are valid as they're not the fault of the consumer. the complaint on the vita, on the other hand, is hardly sony's fault, but the consumer's carelessness about his account details. that's not a valid complaint

                although it does add to the inconvenience of it all, but then there's a fine balance between inconvenience and security.

                  Ignoring his lost password issue, the idea that turning on the device will create a slew of updates and inconveniences. And than there is the memory card issues, now you can't tell me that Sony using a proprietary memory card and then only shipping us the smaller ones is not a massive inconvenience. Sure he could order a big one from overseas but again that's not walking into EB and picking it up (probably cheaper but) and again than he needs to wait for shipping before getting the game.

                  If the whole point is gaming is getting more inconvenient you need to compare to the 3DS, SD Card Storage, a worse online store but since games bind to the device no worries about passwords and plug and play games that don't install.

                  and thus opens another problem for discussion with games and accounts binding onto one device. you lose your 3ds and you have an issue with binding your account to another new 3ds since it becomes locked. online store for handhelds don't really bother me as i like getting most of my games on physical media.

        Why did you use your work email anyway. Besides, I find the Vita is so easy, if you have PS+ it does everything for you. And dont say PS+ is a rip off, XBL is relatively the same price, but with PS+ you get free games (And no extra adds for anyone wondering). Just go get a gamer sized card, instead of a casual sized one. PC gamers can spend thousands upgrading just their GPU every few months, why cant we buy a decent sized memory card, that is cheaper than the memory card for the PSP? Also, most games I have retail box, if not all, dont require an install... If you have a small card, buy the box, not the psn game. Honestly, I'm just sick of gamers complaining so much.

        I dont want my password to be less secure. Thats why I remember it. Nuff said.

        Also, I think we bring up the vita because, out of the other consoles mentioned, I dont think it deserves it. I play it everyday on the train. I play Sly, littlebigplanet, Gravety rush and other games. Its a great PORTABLE console and it will get better with more 'AAA' games like killzone. I bought it to have a 'console' experience i could take with me, and yeah, I feel that for the first time my portable device is a fully blown console.

        Its a portable console that focuses on portable gaming... Isnt that what we wanted? As for the whole seamless media shit... The PS3 already does too much for me, and I feel the average gamer, who just play games and watch some blurays.

        Just buy the console that has the games you want to play, and the one you're friends have.

      Agree!

      The Vita has been one of the more simpliest machines of late to use - your gripe about the memory storage issuing being the most accurate

      I also want to know about "mandatory installs" on the Vita? The only thing ive seen it install is the little OS bubble and the trophies list - and of course any patches... nothing else from a Vita game card has installed on my Vita memory card

      Also I would argue that you losing your password is not a flaw in Sony's design or Sony making it difficult for you, that's a problem entirely of your own making.

      I'm not saying Sony alone has to change the world, but if we're striving towards better consoles and handhelds with increased online functionality shouldn't we also be striving to make that so seamless that we don't require a million accounts and passwords for little things?
      It's not really knocking Sony it's highlighting the idea that the things we've done to make playing games more accessible has put up a bunch of barriers that just weren't there, and furthermore we've just accepted them as the way it's done.
      For instance I don't think anyone has really considered that an XBOX One won't handle offline gamertags. You not only have to be connected to the internet, but you've also got to sign into Microsoft's service to do something that was previously as simple as 'put disc in, load game, play'. Everything else aside they're adding more steps that hinder ease of play without any real benefit to offset the cost. Even when the benefit does offset the cost it tends to pile up.

    Soon there were a hundred different versions of the same rumour chasing each other across the internet tubes like some fucked-up post-modern version of the end credits from the Benny Hill show.

    @markserrels I salute you, sir.

      Yeah, that one line was the one that made me stop what I was doing and scroll up to the byline while asking out loud, "Alright, what the hell is going on, and who is this wordsmith?"

      I was not surprised at what I saw.

        I, too had to check the writer. I thought 'good' Monty python sketch might have been more apt.

      I got to that bit and went to Youtube to find Yakety Sax to use as a theme song to the rest of the article.

    Great article, as always.

    My experience with the PSN/SEN is different. I can queue up the latest PS Plus offering at work through a browser and set it downloading on my PS3 before I leave - coming home to a freshly installed game, ready to go.

    If only the prices came down...

      Wait.... what.... I can do that?

        Yup! https://store.sonyentertainmentnetwork.com/

        It's the easiest way to "buy" your free PS+ games so they're there to download whenever you want in the future, too. Click, check out, don't download.

    Things are getting more complex for a number of reasons.

    Then again, games were meant to be fun. Complexity in games is meant to be dynamic and so should the process be as to when we want to play the games. I'm going to blame security, but its much more that that.

    you aren't the only one When it comes to having consoles that gather dust.

    Great writing, love the Brave New World reference. I look at how simple it is now to load up a game on Steam vs on my Xbox and I just shake my head.

    On the subject of inconvenience and video games: The Xbox 360 Dashboard. That thing is so littered with things I don't want, it's sometimes to difficult to find what you need.
    All I want is GAMES - SOCIAL - SETTINGS. That's all I need. Let me cut out the crap. Nothing else is interesting or useful for me, and everything else gets in the way of those three things.
    Of course, the Xbone is taking a step in the opposite direction: MORE UNDESIRED THINGS. Whatever.

    On the subject of Mark: Man, 32. I can't believe you're only 7 years older than me. That's the weird thing about growing up. Your whole life there's this distance between yourself and everyone who's in charge. But then you get out of your teenage years and that line blurs and greys until it's hardly there anymore. 32.

      Somehow the 360 steadily went from being the best user experience to the worst. At one point, I was trying to watch a video off of a portable hard drive through my 360. That used to be a simple task but with the current UI, my girlfriend and I took about five minutes to find the damned option to do it. Then it didn't like the codecs so we ended up watching through something else instead.

        About a month ago, I actually had to look up on youtube how to change your dashboard theme.
        Pretty sure it wasn't that difficult when I got it originally.

      And then you finally realise that everyone on the Internet is younger than you. I'll see your 7 years younger and raise you 13 years older :-). Remember, kiddies, it's only numbers. It's attitude that counts.

      Last edited 27/05/13 8:47 pm

    Come on, you're really going to complain about not having access to an old work email, or beating a dead update horse that everyone else is guilty of anyway? Come on Mark, I thought you were better than that.

      Was practically counting down to you coming in here and whinging!

      But it is true. Game updates are rubbish for the consumer in general, and Sony is the rubbishest of the lot. Their updates are too common, too obtuse, and take too long,

      I think it's fair to keep calling them out on this. Hopefully their promises of improvements for the PS4 are kept.

        The Xbox 360 has the longest dashboard and game updates I've ever seen. Takes three times as long as my PS3 or Vita.

          Say whaaat? I know you're a massive fan of the Vita but that is just plain incorrect.

          Dashboard updates can be slow, I agree, and I don't like them. But they happen, what, once every 3 months? And they're no slower than the PS3's which happen every few weeks.

          Game updates take seconds. Like 5-10 seconds. All I have to do is say "Yes, I will update it" and it's done. Maybe it's because I have a fast Internet connection - but PS3 updates on that same connection take many minutes.

          I'm no fanboy of MS - I think their 360 dashboard has become a cluttered, bloated mess and I dislike their plans to move the console market away from the people who love their games. But you need to take off the blinkers and admit that Sony's management of updates is shit and needs to be fixed.

            I find my Vita is fastest, followed by 3DS then 360 and lastly PS3.

            Ps3 is a fucken clunker, they really improved the whole thing with Vita.

              That may well be the case, I've never experienced a vita update personally (cos I've only played other people's). If so, it's a good sign for the future!

                Yeah, everything about it is a step up from PS3, user-wise.

                Customisable menu!!! :D

      His point was sound and solid.
      Progression in our industry has lead to an increase of inconvenience.

      For a leisure activity, gaming has become increasingly more frustrating and time consuming to simply "do". The fact is that 10 years ago we didn't NEED to remember passwords to age old emails to actually purchase and enjoy a game.
      The progression has its perks, but here specifically, we see that for all the innovation in the technology behind games, it's becoming more and more of a issue to simply enjoy a simple game. Which is not a good thing for the industry at all.

    How do we upvote articles? :P

    Top piece, Mark, couldn't agree more. In fact I'm in more or less the same situation with Super Metroid, part of me wants to grab it just because it's 30c but at the same time I haven't turned on my Wii U since last year, hell I haven't even visited the eShop at all yet. I really can't be bothered to go through all the updating and everything to buy a game that I won't even end up playing, and already have sitting on my shelf anyway. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure what password I used for the Nintendo Network account. Or which e-mail I tied it to.

    I really hate the connected world. Things are so much harder than before the net was a thing.

    This is where the master race shines.

    Steam really is a brilliant platform for sheer convenience. Buying a game can be a little bit too easy and once you've downloaded a game (the one inconvenience but one that I've come to accept), patches are done in the background.

    I've switched from being a primarily console gamer to not even having my consoles plugged in since I moved to Sydney. Hell, I've even bought several games on Steam that I already own on another platform because they were cheap enough that I didn't mind the cost and convenient enough that I felt like it was worthwhile.

    EDIT: Almost forgot the best option to get around this. BOARD GAMES! No DRM, no patches, no sign ins. Just a box full of gamey goodness to share with your mates.

    EDIT EDIT: Admittedly, forgetting your Steam password can be a real pain, especially because most people set it to autologin and then prone to forgetting the password. Autologin is a real pain if it ever comes to setting something up on a new device.

    Last edited 27/05/13 3:40 pm

      This is all one of the reasons I've started board and table top gaming again, it's social, enjoyable and there's a whole heap less messing around to just have a fun game.

        The social aspect of board gaming is so much harder to capture in video games. It exists but the gradual death of split screen means you need multiple systems and screens to do it with more current games.

          Agreed, alas another downside to "progression".

          It's certainly easier to play games multiplayer, but when the social experience of having 4-8 friends around on a pair of consoles playing goldeneye is replaced by garbled expletives and trolls, I feel like the enjoyment of multiplayer gaming is lost entirely.

            Multiplayer with friends still exists and is great. Now you can do it whenever you're all free instead of whenever you're all available to come over to someone's house. Particularly convenient if you have friends that live in different states or countries. It's just a different experience from being in the same place as someone while you play with them.

              Exactly, I wanted to convey that but I'm half asleep haha.
              I meant that the "feeling" of playing with friends has changed, and multipalyer is largely focused towards playing with strangers than friends now anyway.
              Even though I have fun with friends online, maybe I've just gotten older and more cynical, but it feels like the universal appeal of playing a game between my friends has long since disappeared, there's too much saturation, too many poor titles on ruined IPs and too many hurdles to jump through to get more than one or two of my personal friends to play a game together and have fun for longer than an hour for the most part.

              At least with table top gaming, if I'm playing with a stranger, I can get to know them, have a laugh and plan to meet again if all goes well haha.

              In summary...I miss being a kid with an N64 and the whole weekend with some friends.

              Last edited 27/05/13 4:15 pm

              Not sure if I'm the only one, but i play games online with exactly zero friends. I wish i knew someone to play against regularly.

                You're not the only one. I'm just not the sort of guy that goes online by myself often, it's always more fun for me to play with friends.

          Not back in the 64 days, maaaaaaan, I loved multiplayer back then :-/

      Crap... I grew up as one of the Master Race.
      My first game experiences were on PCs... and don't get me wrong, there are still some PC-centric experiences that don't work on consoles (RTS for one).

      But PC gaming is a horrible thing.
      You only have to look at this very website for stories about compatibility issues with every game released.
      This game doesn't work with this video card.
      That game has problems on certain processors.
      The server side DRM for this game is spotty.
      Server queues for that game are abhorrent.
      This game uses U-Play, or Origin, or GFWL.
      Said manufacturer never released a patch that works with said game.

      Where as once I was ok with opening up the guts of a machine, now I just want convenience...
      Consoles are getting more complicated, yes... but don't stand on the Master Race pedestal and tell me the sun shines brighter up there.

      Know why the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence?.. because it's fed with bullshit.

        There are problems with every system imaginable. I'm not saying that PCs are perfect just that when it comes to convenience, Steam is hard to top.

          I gotta say, @banderdash, my experience with Steam is much like Trjn's. It just makes things so much smoother than it used to be when we were allocating memory and IRQs manually and creating boot disks before we could get started. Buy game. Download game. Run game. So mercifully swift and simple.

            This is a great point @transientmind
            Here we see where progression has led to convenience. On PC, playing games is easier than it has EVER been before (Do you remember needing to remember what bloody soundcard you had, with what channels, frequencies and such it had just to install a game...get it wrong and you'd need to do the whole thing again or live without sound.).
            Now it's all pretty streamlined, hardware discrepancies exist, but for the most part it's the software that is the issue these days and less the hardware, largely due to how geared towards consoles (and their hardware) games are.
            Games designed for PC are almost always flawless in regard to the issues that @banderdash stated.

            Conversely, consoles have become more convoluted and difficult to use, particularly when they are disconnected from the internet for a period. This is probably compounded upon by manufacturers increasing insistence on steering consoles towards a non-game related market.

            Last edited 27/05/13 4:38 pm

              Don't forget to load the VESA and mouse drivers before you start the game, otherwise your 286 will lock up. Ah, the memories.

        To be fair, most of those issues are caused by consoles =P
        Also as a purchasing and distribution platform Steam is pretty awesome. It needs to have cheaper games, but that's not Valve's fault and we can still buy codes from the UK coz there is no region locking.

        Last edited 27/05/13 4:45 pm

      Steam does have that extra SMS code thing too which is nice for security.
      I used to forget my Steam password (and username) until I got a laptop and HTPC. Now I jump around between PCs and use the password often.

      Steam needs to improve their offline mode a bit and more controls over downloads would be nice. Sometimes I'd like to run 2 at once, or to run downloads while playing a game (especially if it's a single player game).
      But overall it's pretty awesome. If you wan't an xbox like experience then use Steam's big picture mode.

        You can let a game download while you play, just tab out, pause and then resume it, it'll download while you play.
        Regarding the multiple downloads thing, I could swear that steam used to do it, it was a few days ago that I noticed that it was suspending additional downloads until the current one had finished, kinda odd tbh.

        Last edited 27/05/13 4:41 pm

          Didn't realise you could force it.
          Can you bring up the downloads menu from the in-game interface? That would be a good way to do it.
          In any case, there is always room for improvement but Steam is pretty awesome.

      I call bullshit on the PC/Steam convenience thing. I've had plenty of games that I've tried to run from Steam that have popped up errors with codes which when searched for offer solutions that do not work. When it does go well though, it is a great system. But I could never say PC wins for convenience.

        I've never had any issues, so I can't really disagree. When it works, it's fantastic though, which is probably true for all systems.

      I personally can't agree about Steam be a convenient platform to play games on. I've had so much trouble trying to start up games when connected with patchy internet, then it tries to update which makes the game completely unplayable until the update finishes. In those frequent (for me) situations, I either luck out that the game doesn't need to update and unplug my computer completely from the internet to play offline mode, or suck it and don't play anything on Steam at all.

      Steam, in my opinion and experience, is a platform that doesn't work when you have unreliable internet.

      EDIT: Objectively, it is the best platform on the PC at the moment, and Valve is reliable with their updating of the system (albeit at Valve Time :)

      Last edited 27/05/13 6:59 pm

    I understand your frustrations, but your complaints are against a system that's frustrating enough when it doesn't work, but fantastically convenient when it does work. Considering that regardless of the issues, you were able to connect to Nintendo directly through your console, buy a game with your account and download it without even leaving the house.

    To be honest, I'm finding gaming to be so stupidly convenient right now it's dangerous. While I'll admit that the Xbox Marketplace could do a lot of things much better, I found myself a month or two ago finding out about a sale while I was at work, so I logged on to the Xbox site with my account (justa username and password), clicked the games I wanted and cued them up for download. I didn't even have to enter my credit card as the payment was charged directlty to my account, so all i did was click "buy" and then my xbox would download the games straight away as soon as I got home.

    I don't think it's fair to say that Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all need to work to make their services convenient, because they really deserve more credit than that. I think it's more fair to say that they need to work on preventing situations where their services from become inconvenient.

    Did it really take an hour to download Super Metroid? That seems a little extreme.

      The whole process did -- downloading the updates, signing up. Going to my email, typing in a code, etc etc. Combine this with the constant drop outs... it might have been longer than an hour.

        Part of this is because you haven't turned on your WiiU in a month or more. Tried that with a computer? 360? PS3?
        But no, the WiiU seems to have connection issues for me, too, although I haven't had much to do online yet.

          It's a problem that feeds into itself. You get annoyed with updates on a system, so you use it less meaning that you are forced to endure more updates the next time you try to use it. Making it more annoying and making you want to use it less, meaning the updates are more intrusive. Fun.

    This is much similar to my argument that '90's internet loading times were actually quite convenient, it gave you time to start a page loading, go make a sandwich, and then consume that sandwich once the page was three quarters loaded.

      I used to play Morrowind with a sandwich. During the frequent loading screens I'd take a few bites. Fallout 2, I spent the loading times reading the substantial manual.

    My 3DS, Xbox360 and Wii are gathering dust. My PSP is also dust ridden but that's because my PSV replaces it outright. The PSV screen is still one of the best mobile gaming can offer.

    In conjuction with PS+, I think the Vita is one of the things that Sony is doing right, Playing Virtue's Last Reward and Gravity Rush this year are highlights of my gaming this year, and I didn't even download it on my PSV. Did it through the PC at work, got home and ready to play. Best 2 games I've played so far this year and available for free*.
    Setup PSV and PS3 updates during the night and I don't think I have waited on an update screen since I've started PS+..... So I don't fully agree fully with this writers point.

    *Had PS+ mainly due to PS3, so essentially getting PSV PS+ for free.

      I absolutely love my Vita, it's crisp and sleek, the downer is the lack of games for me.
      P4G is fantastic and worth the console on its own imo, but I wish I had more than 2-3 games for it worth playing that aren't PSone classics or games like jetpack joyride.

    When did the act of buying and playing video games become such a bloated, inconvenient process, how did we get to this point?

    We've been at that point since Windows 95. Don't get me started on fucking windows update. After you get through the Microsoft Update for Windows Update -> Cumulative Security Update for Windows, Cumulative Security Update for .NET framework 3.1, Cumulative Security Update for Microsoft Outlook, Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer 9, Windows Malicious Software Tool Remover not to mention "optional" driver updates etc etc.

    I find consoles actually quite convenient to update, they are not point and click, they are turn on and leave AND it's one packaged download. I can't speak for the WiiU but the PS3 and Xbox360 are very easy to update and they are forced updates so you don't have users with vulnerable systems.

    I think the issue is you Mark.

    I'm 32 also, and have been playing games since the Atari days and I gotta say I LOOOOOOVE gaming as it is right now. Not only that, I adore the idea of never having to disc swap again to play my games.

    How is that not easier?

      Email registrations, authentication, DRM, connectivity issues, forgotten passwords, forced updates, marketplace servers being down and usage limitations are several examples I can think of that have personally impeded my ability to simply play a game.
      Not swapping disks is great, but on PC you've been able to do that for years and years. I don't see how console gaming has become more convenient than it used to be at all. Even buying a game from a brick and mortar store requires you to jump through hoops at home before you can play generally.
      I understand why these things are there and I'm not saying they should be removed, but it is definantly harder to play games (on consoles at least) than it was when i had my atari...

    This is progress. This is entertainment’s Brave New World. Doing the same thing you did before, more clumsily, less precisely than you did it before. Because it’s fancy.

    I'm going to go ahead and pin some of the blame for this on gamers. Since the Wii all we've heard in response to new projects in gaming is 'it doesn't innovate enough'. We've been yelling 'make something that does what it does now, but make it new and exciting!' for years now.
    Before the Wii we were perfectly happy with the idea that the PS2 just did the same thing the PS1 did but better. The DVD player was great, although it led Sony to think making a media player first and a console second was a great idea for the PS3, but aside from that our consoles were just better versions of the same thing.
    Now we sit here demanding that every console, every controller, every single game reinvent what it does. We look at something like the XBOX 360, a fairly traditional console that only really innovated on natural upgrades, and then bash it because it doesn't have a bunch of laser lights and spinning rims (ie, online functionality was the biggest innovation, it was inevitable and they did exactly what you'd expect).
    We want to control our consoles with a wave of our hands, but we want it to work like it does in our imagination where it's somehow faster, easier and cooler, not like it does in reality where it's slow, clunky and just generally a downgrade on every conceivable front.

    Obviously we're not entirely to blame, they're paid to know better than to listen to faceless rabble, but I really think it's time we sat back and thought about what we're actually asking for.

    Last edited 27/05/13 6:25 pm

      I think this comment sums up so much of the whole problem with consoles now. I want one box to do everything, but when someone gives me that, what I thought I wanted is actually something else. The 360 has had numerous updates to keep it "modern", but we all seem to glorify the old setups and styles. It is like we look back with forgiveness for the issues of the past but crucify the current for lack of (or addition of) something shiny and new. Everything is a trade off - and one persons perfection is another's nightmare. If only creating simplicity was not so complicated....

        Agree. Never take much notice of the dashboard. Turn the Xbox on with the disc already in the drive (bf3). Pick up the controller. Wait for the green light to stop flashing. Press 'a' on the controller. Turn on tv. Turn on power to turtle beach headphones and put on head. Sit down and hit 'start' on controller. Never even see the dashboard.

          Heh. I'd kill for a 'skip everything before the main menu of the game' option in the console settings. I understand developers and publishers have to self-promote a little, but damn, it's five minutes before I'm in game thanks to every person even remotely involved in the project requiring their own animated intro scene.
          Just turn on the console, wait for the disc to load, and bam you're on the title screen.

          Last edited 27/05/13 9:13 pm

          My problem is that I use my xbox for everything... media centre, iview, (well now I think about it, those are the two.... suppose i should tag iview to my pins) and I feel relatively happy with the set out after a few years of finding where stuff is. I want the next xbox to be all the things that they seem to be looking to do, so I am almost happy to wade through the crap bits to have the stuff I do use. I want a $500 box that works as my PVR, tv tuner, internet browser, game centre, and hopefully a few other things I haven't thought about yet.... It is a bit "minority report" ish though...

            The problem I'm finding is that I want that but I want it to work better. I remember getting my 360 and actually being excited about the media player aspects, but when I started using it I found it couldn't handle a lot of common file types/codecs, couldn't handle external subtitles, couldn't handle on the go playlists, etc.
            I want a contradiction. I want something with the flexibility and power of my PC, something that can be customised completely and handle any situation, but at the same time I want the experience to be completely hassle free and streamlined. I essentially want an XBOX that can read my mind.
            That said, if they had basic and advanced modes for the media players that wouldn't go astray.

              So you want an ouya with a decent chipset? Waiting for mine to arrive to see if it is the golden bullet...

    I signed up specifically to comment on this article. I'm very impressed with your article, Mark. This is The Truth. This is not corporation-paid-for-advertising. This is Journalism. This article also describes the very phenomenon I've been complaining about for a while; a game console is only worth getting because it PLAYS GAMES BETTER than other devices. Most important among it's features is what consoles USED to be strong at- and the only thing they (used to) beat their competitor devices in- Ease Of Use. Take that away, and consoles become almost identical to PCs; and with the new MultimediaPC design, the Xbone has in fact become just a glorified Media PC. I'm sad, because with nintendo's WiiU dead on arrival, this console generation is looking like it'll be worth skipping. I game on PC as well. Might just delete the "console and..." from my gamer description. I'll be following Kotaku's coverage of this console generation closely.

    When I do a American accent on the Kinect it understands me better but everytime I do a Melbournian accent it has difficulty understanding me.

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