As the resident games journalist here at All Good Things I was closely watching today's reveal of Microsoft's successor to the Xbox 360, now called the Xbox One. Normally, here (as is obvious from our name) we like to focus on the positives but I feel we need to raise awareness of an issue that's been building for quite some time within the games industry: publishers complaining that they are losing money on used game sales.
What exactly is it that makes the games industry feel entitled to complain about the first sale doctrine, which has been an important part of copyright and the economy since the beginning of time. From cars to comic books, all industries have understood the rights of the purchaser to buy from them, sell what they buy, or choose to buy their product from a third party at their own discretion.
Not game makers though…at least not anymore. In this day where games can sell 3.4 million new copies in a month but still be considered a financial disappointment, they instead focus upon how much more money they're losing because they can't just force people to only give their money directly to them.
Enter the Xbox One. Now I like my Xbox just fine. I'm not a fanboy for any console manufacturer right now; SEGA is my first and only love. However, Microsoft hopes to court publisher support by doing exactly what I mentioned above. The new Xbox One will require paying an added fee directly to Microsoft on every used or borrowed game. As a gamer, I cannot support that. I’ve always taken comfort in knowing that I am building equity on my purchases, which can later be used to buy more games, new or used.
How many great games have been released this year alone? If you can afford to drop sixty dollars every few weeks then good for you but many of us cannot and don't feel we should have to pay an extra ten, fifteen, twenty dollars on top of what we can pay as we would for anything else or conversely lose $10-20 on games we would like to sell if the market for used games drops proportionately.
In the past five years we have forked over while publishers slash out content to sell piecemeal as DLC; we've had to deal with online passes (which the Xbox One also integrates on a hardware level) and worse. Don't stand for this because the more you let them take from you, the more they will try to take. You have other options like the Wii U or the upcoming Playstation 4, neither of which currently have plans to do anything like this.
UPDATE: Apparently, XBOX is playing damage control disavowing that any of these used game fee strategies will be put into place and saying only that the new system has the ability to implement such a pricing strategy at a future date. Uh-huh. http://www.technobuffalo.com/2013/05/21/xbox-one-fee-for-buying-used-games-full-retail-price/
It's here! Daft Punk's highly anticipated new thirteen track album "Random Access Memories" has finally arrived. But the question I'm sure you're all asking is: “is it worth my time?" Well, luckily we here at All Good Things make it our business to help you answer just that. We have listened to the new CD in its entirety and now, for your convenience, we have prepared a track by track breakdown of the whole album so you can hopefully better decide whether "Random Access Memories" is for you.
1. Give Life Back To Music
Setting the tone of the album early on is this nu-disco track that, while not pushing any boundaries, is pleasant enough and has some energy behind it.
2. Game of Love
Slowing things down a little, this entry is one for the ladies, or at least when the ladies are around if you follow. It's smooth and has some wistful lyrics
3. Giogrio By Moroder
Opening with a little anecdote about George's past and how important the synthesizer has been to his music making process, this one uses both modern and 70's style synthesizer sounds to move between acid jazz territory & back again.
Continuing with the jazzy sound of of the previous track, this one is much more loungy with piano & of course again synth bending along with a simple analogue drum beat & Daft Punk's signature styled vocals over top.
5. Instant Crush [BETTER]
One of the catchier & more accessible tracks on all of "Random Access Memories". It mixes wanky electric guitar thrown in for good measure and a hook that can easily get stuck in your head if you're not careful.
6. Lose Yourself To Dance
Taking a break from the vocoder, this track has some falsetto vocals with okay some vocoder on backup but the rest of the samples are also mostly analogue. Although almost exclusively dance tracks, if there's one track on this album I'd have pegged as its club single, this would be it.
This could best be described as spacey and what the inside of Daft Punk's stomach must sound like. It starts off as dissonant but builds and layers into harmonies and melodies. It's not instantly accessible like "Instant Crush" but enjoyable upon multiple listening.
8. Get Lucky [BEST]
And we're back to nu-disco. It's pleasant and also a contender for this album's big club single but there's not much more that can be said about it beyond that.
Now this track is different, it begins with sweeping orchestral music before moving into a funky jam with slide guitar of all things. I've heard people mix urban and country sounds before and it works again here.
If you're expecting this one to be really lo-fi, think again. This does use some of that but mostly its sound is built around acoustic guitar, violin, flutes and a subtly tribal drum beat for an ambient, instrumental experience which I always enjoy.
11. Fragments of Time
Again this has an almost country sound to it but now its mixed with adult contemporary. If you were looking for a tune to introduce your mom or dad to Daft Punk with, this would be the one.
12. Doin' It Right (feat Panda Bear) [BESTEST]
This I like. It's low fi, has phat bass & blends that with a sense of new wave. It sounds like a mash-up more than anything and I am a sucker for a good mash-up.
13. Contact [BETTER]
After so many four-four drum loops in this album, "Random Access Memories" closes with a refreshing & envigorating break beat through a traditional drum set with a wall of noise that builds to a crescendo before drifting off.
As you can see from the notes in brackets, if I to pick out personal favorites they would be "Instant Crush" & "Contact" but most of all "Doin' It Right.” Overall, "Random Access Memories" is a laid back collection of nu-disco with a bit of an electronic and jazzy edge and a lot of vocorder. If you're a fan of any of these sounds or genres, then this album would definitely be worth your time and it is available now through all your traditional music outlets, as a whole or by piecemeal if you prefer.
"Anything in Return" by Toro Y Moi is good, it's really good. This album mixes in a bit of an R&B vibe, not as much as the Hodgy Beats remix of its track "So Many Details" which we covered here before at AllGoodThings but it still adds some soul into the mix. It's not too far removed from the 80s synth pop sound of chillwave which he pioneered but somehow it makes these tracks poppier than his previous work. That's not necessarily a bad thing because it also makes everything catchy and accessible.
It's not something you will ever hear playing in the club but it's still something you'll be playing everywhere else and something you'll be playing on repeat. As I've mentioned before, I appreciate the rare opportunity these days when I can enjoy an album as a whole instead of just a couple singles buried in filler and "Anything in Return" is enjoyable from beginning to end. So if you would like to hear what I'm talking about for yourselves then it officially releases January 22, 2013 via carpark records but you can freely stream it right now via pitchfork, right here.
P.S. The first track, “Harm in Change,” is really good.