Microsoft is about to add more television capabilities to the Xbox 360. Depending on your opinion of what a video game system should be — and whether or not you want to pay for these new features — this is either a good thing or a bad thing.
I won't be paying for these offerings, but I think it's great to have our video-game systems intertwine with different media.
When Microsoft started sending me monthly updates with data showing me what I played or watched, and for how long, I noticed something interesting. During certain months, I watched more Netflix and Hulu Plus than play actual games.
Some months I watched TV shows and movies for almost all of the time I spent logged into my Xbox 360. This changed when big releases hit and also during the summer when I averaged 60 hours a month with my 360 with only about 20 of those hours going to Netflix and Hulu Plus.
But things are changing. I no longer jump online just to shoot space marines. I also watch TV shows and movies.
As consoles give me and my friends more options to choose from than just gaming, the more we find ourselves checking them out.
In fact, we watch more TV shows and soccer games than ever before because of just how simple it is to turn on our consoles and browse through content from our couches. I mean, who doesn't like being able to watch the newest episode of The Office on their terms?
And it's cheap. In the last three years, I've had cable only once and that was for the 2010 World Cup. Otherwise, I watch what I need through a friend who can afford things like cable or satellite.
Internet doesn't cost much and neither do subscriptions to content-streaming services. As a gamer in this day and age, chances are you already have Internet access. It makes sense to utilize the extra options offered by your console of choice.
To be honest, this is less about the evolution of consoles and more about the evolution of media. DVD-movie playback was huge for the PlayStation 2, and as times changed, Blu-ray compatibility became significant for the PlayStation 3. Now we found ourselves streaming and downloading things we used to shove into disc trays.
But unlike with physical media, consoles can easily adapt to new online services with a simple update. We don't have to wait for the Xbox 720 to stream movies.
The decision to turn our consoles into a one-stop shop for different media has proven to be an incredible one, and it's only going to get better. One can only imagine how our consoles will entertain us in the future — even if we don't accept them at first or find them superfluous.