Well today, for video gamers everywhere, was the day Microsoft showed XBOX One to the world. Usually, every time a system goes into next gen it stirs up tons of rumors, anticipation, and even fears. The Wii U has been out for awhile now to tepid sales and worries, Sony announced the PS4 and seems to be on the right track, and today was Microsoft’s big day.
Being a big fan of the XBox 360 as my platform of choice last generation, I had some optimism going into today. Though it was peppered with some worries. There have been these persistent rumors of always online connected system with a type of digital rights management scheme built in to prevent piracy. It’s all the rage these days. Ask EA all about it. But it was so over the top that it almost seemed unbelievable. Talking to friends there would be laughs at how crazy any of these big brother type schemes would be if it happened. Well… Microsoft is going in that direction.
During the unveiling today we got a glimpse of the system. It’s not awesome looking, to be sure. It’s not ugly either. Really, it looks to me like a giant PVR as when the PVR was first invented. Granted, the system might find some alterations to its look by the time it rolls out but suffice it to say many people are not thrilled. But that is cosmetics and not the heart of the issue.
It was said that if you tried to have an always online system you would be basically shooting your company in the head. The argument is that not everyone has the same type of service: there are download caps, bandwidth issues, and outages to take into consideration. Well, Microsoft says to hell with all your fears and yeah the system is always connected. There is some contention as to what consists of always online. Even Microsoft themselves seem uncertain. The general idea is that every 24 hours, your system checks if it’s online. If it isn’t then too bad, you can no longer play your games. So it’s not “always online” but you better have a connection at some point during the day.
This day and age I see less of a probability of being connected online at some point, however the implementation of a system where I cannot play a game on my $400-$500 device because I have no internet connection is mind boggling. It’s actually pretty offensive to consumers, really. It’s not the end all be all, however I see the inherent dangers of such a structure for it to fail.
Speaking of games, another point of contention has been the used game market. Companies seem to be really bothered that when you buy a game, you might want to sell it. God forbid you get some money back and get another game with it. Game Stop or EB Games have been the hub of all used game activity and it’s really their bread and butter. Well, as a giant middle finger to them and consumers, you can trade your games… online via a Microsoft concocted service to be announced and further detailed. Even lending a game to a friend seems to be out of the question. Well, I say out of the question but you can lend the game. However Microsoft wants your friend who borrowed your game to actually pay the MSRP to play it. So that means purchase it right.
All of this early information is quite scary and definitely not the Hello World for a new product you want. In fact, this type of marketing is probably the polar opposite to what any sane company should be doing. However, that being said, I should stress that this is very very early news that is coming out and communication on Microsoft’s side from what I have been reading is out of whack with conflicting statements. It will probably take a week to get everything somewhat clarified but if this is indeed all factual then this generation of gaming seems to be in quite some trouble.
I wrote an entry on digital rights mismanagement around the time the Sim City fiasco was going strong but I think the idea applies to this. At what point as a consumer who purchases games do we lose the right to that game. Do we even have rights when we buy the game? Technically you buy a game and it should be yours right? I should be able to give that game I spent my hard earned money on to a friend or family member, right? And what about your system? Isn’t that the same concept? Very troubling indeed if all these measures come into effect.
Kotaku article on your ability to trade your XBOX One games
Kotaku article on requiring an internet connection for XBOX One