An Airing of Grievances: Video Games

Stuff that wouldn’t fit in other articles, Part One

Here’s a list of random things I’ve been thinking about that I couldn’t quite justify writing entire pieces on. This time…it’s random stuff that bothers me in the world of video games.

Why are there plastic ledges above disc drives on the PS4 and Xbox One X?

I hate the little plastic ledge above the disc drive on the Xbox One X

Here’s a picture of the Xbox One X standing vertically from Microsoft’s web site. In between the large bit of plastic and the small bit of plastic is the disc drive. If you have the system sitting horizontally, you have to carefully aim your game or movie under this lip to try and get it in the slot.

If you’d never used a game console before, you might not even realize that there’s a disc slot in there.

Every PS4 has this same problem. I don’t like it. I don’t want to have to aim my discs. Yes, I’m lazy. But also, look at this here.

This is the Xbox One S, which shares certain design cues with the original Xbox One. That big slot that’s flush with the front of the console is the disc drive, and the button next to it is the eject button.

It’s easy to see, use, and understand. This is a better design for a slot-loading tray.

I wish the Xbox One X were just using the same casing from the S but with a different color of plastic.

There’s a disc drive in there somewhere.

Why don’t console games have more graphics settings?

The PS4 Pro brought us into a weird era: console games started getting graphics options.

They weren’t very good options. Usually it’s just “Prefer Quality!” or “Prefer Resolution!”

But now something weird is happening. The settings are spreading to more games and platforms. And continuing to sort of suck.

Dynasty Warriors 9 has graphics settings on PS4, PS4 Pro, and Xbox One X. On all three consoles, the only settings are “Movie Mode” and “Action Mode.” Oh, and those modes mean different things depending on what console you’re on…and the menu doesn’t really tell you what they do.

This means that the game, in Action Mode, looks nicer on my One X than on my PS4 Slim…but the framerate is less consistent. Oh. Great?

Even some Switch games have settings. I’ve seen them in both Fire Emblem Warriors and Enter the Gungeon, and I know other games have them too. But like DW9, it’s up to the user to experiment and see what they actually do.

I know that the argument for not giving console games PC-like settings is that it’s too much work to tweak this stuff and consoles are supposed to be a uniform experience…but when why are we already halfway down the slippery slope? I think we should just go all the way. Give me the defaults that the developer thought were good, and give me the chance to play around with them, and reset them if I need to.

The argument for not providing settings no longer holds water now that many games offer these weird half-step options.

The Xbox store logo is a shopping bag. I guess it only holds one game.

Why doesn’t Microsoft have a shopping cart for the Xbox store?

The Playstation Store has had a shopping cart system since the PS3 era. On the Xbox…you still have to make digital purchases one item at a time.

This is stupid.

Microsoft is supposed to be one of the world’s premiere software companies…but if I want to buy a few games in an Xbox digital sale, I have to buy them one at a time. If I want to buy a few pieces of DLC for a game, again, one at a time.

It’s completely dumb.

Why doesn’t Sony upgrade the DualShock 4?

The DualShock 4 is perilously close to being perhaps the best gaming controller ever.

But it has a stupidly small battery and the headphone output is merely adequate. With a bigger battery and a beefier headphone amp, it would basically be untouchable.

And yeah, I know it started out with rubber peeling problems. At least they fixed those.

PS4 Elite Controllers have been rumored numerous times, but never happened. Microsoft continues to sell Elite Xbox controllers even though that thing never got a revision and has questionable quality control.

The time has come for a better DualShock 4.

I think I’m the only person that misses this. That window where DeadRising 3 is would show your current game/video in real-time! I thought it was cool. Oh well.

Why does every console have the same menu system?

I guess everyone designing the current game consoles really liked the PS3’s “XrossMediaBar.”

Yes, that’s how Sony spelled the word Cross, and why that thing was called the XMB for short.

Now, that interface was really cool in 2006. But it’s still the underpinning for all three major consoles. The Switch, Xbox One, and PS4 all have a horizontal line of things that you scroll around, and other options stored vertically.

The Xbox One didn’t start this way. It had a cool picture-in-picture thing, where your game would zoom out a little and the menu would come in around it. I liked that.

So of course they ditched it.

I always feel like it takes just a couple too many clicks to get to what I want. I know that UI design is literally impossible to get perfect, but it was at least neat to see Microsoft take some risks…before completely abandoning them.

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I do radio voice work by day, and write by day and night. I studied film and production. I love audio, design, and music. Also video games.

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