Sakuracon occurred, and we attended it. It was good to see Sam and Claire, to the extent that I actually did. The extended Questionable Content "kroo" also provided mechanically detectable amounts of joy. This was until I had to leave the convention unexpectedly, taking to the air in order to return to the ancestral homeland. This left Gabriel to manage a two-hour panel by himself in the convention's largest hall. I was distraught, but only regarding my dereliction and not because I thought he would be unable to manage it. He is the funny one, after all. It has ever been thus: he the damaged genius, and I the loyal archivist who scrambles to collect his mad prophecies.
Catching up with world events during our con-induced seclusion, I was surprised to hear Epic's dirty laundry with Microsoft aired on the newest (ahem) "1UP Yours" podcast. Is 1UP Yours the most important gaming podcast? Evidence is mounting.
Let us continue.
There have been comments floating around that Microsoft has been stalling the release of free content from the Xbox Live service until the creators of said content would agree to charge for it. I've heard this too, but I don't know how widespread it actually is. You should know that (in the case of Gears, anyway) the issue has been resolved already, with a solution drawn from Bungie's experience creating Halo 2 maps - a staggered premium release. That is to say, the maps will be available day one to paying customers, and then released free of charge at a date to be determined. There was an official response posted to a thread at Evil Avatar on the subject, clarifying the shared position.
It's really surprising to me that we ever heard anything about this - that Microsoft didn't realize when rumors like storm clouds began to gather it was time to get out in front of it. I understand their position, too: that the certification, promotion, and transfer of supposedly "free" content isn't something they want to make routine. They're trying to create an environment where content has value, for themselves and their partners. That's all well and good, but it's far too abstract to be used rhetorically - particularly for Gears, a four-million selling system exclusive title that symbolizes the strapping vigor of their platform. This kind of thing doesn't seem prudent to a person starving for new content to extend their experience, someone who is already paying a monthly fee for the privilege of paying more fees. Honestly, it just looks sort of shabby.