First of all, let me begin by saying that I love the Xbox. I honestly believe that it is the best system on the market, and has some truly amazing games on the horizon. However, something that I find very disturbing has been happening recently. A few days ago, it was confirmed that Microsoft had indeed bought acclaimed developer Rareware from Nintendo. That alone, I don’t have a problem with; but immediately after the acquisition was confirmed, rumors began spreading that Microsoft was planning on purchasing Capcom as well, and possibly Sega too.

Gamers feared from the very beginning that Microsoft would come in and buy out all the developers in the industry, and that’s exactly why nobody wanted them to make a console in the first place. So here we are, not even a year after the Xbox launch, and we’re already seeing some pretty scary signs that MS may very well be buying out all the competition. It’s no secret that the Xbox hasn’t exactly met with Earth-shattering success, but overall the console is still selling respectably. Granted, MS may be losing a lot of money on the unit, but they’re not really in a position where they have to beg for money. The company could easily bleed cash for the next year or two and wait for the Xbox to pick up momentum on its own merits. Any self-respecting gamer has to admit that the games coming down the pipeline for the Xbox look pretty darn spiffy. Unreal Championship, Fable, Panzer Dragoon Orta, and Brute Force all have amazing potential, and there are many other noteworthy games coming as well. The point is: gamers will buy a system to play the games on it. If MS would just chill out and wait a while, I think they’d see consumer interest in the Xbox pick up considerably as more high-profile titles are released as Xbox exclusives.

As it stands, it looks like Microsoft is instead planning on relying on less than admirable strong arm tactics to get exclusives for their system. As I said before, I love the Xbox, and in general, I love Microsoft as a company. They’ve worked miracles for the PC world, but if they’re going to take over the video game industry as they have the PC market, I’m afraid I must protest. I like the Xbox the best, but that doesn’t mean I want to see my PS2 or GameCube shelved because MS bought all the developers out there. These brutal business practices are what MS is known for, and I can only hope that the gaming industry doesn’t fall to the wayside just because one company decided that they had to have everything, and in the end, left gamers with nothing.

To Microsoft: Play fair or get out of this industry. The Xbox is an awesome system that can stand on its own two feet. Buying out all these game companies will only reinforce the anti-MS feelings that many people harbor. Let your console and its games speak for themselves; the system will sell better over time as people realize the quality products available on the Xbox.

Now, do I believe that a huge corporation like MS is really going to listen to me? No, of course not, but I can’t back Microsoft’s �cash is king� policy either. Developers need freedom to create the kind of games they want to create. Competition helps to drive this creativity to new levels; eliminate it, and games will cease to evolve. Well screw that; I was practically raised on video games, but if MS manages to squander every developer out there, then it’ll be a cold day in hell before I purchase another video game.

By Ryan Schaefer – 09/30/02

Screenshots for Play Fair or Get Out