Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Why the Xbox '720' won't restrict used games or require constant net access

With multiple sites reporting the old rumors that the next gen Xbox will not allow second hand games to be playable, or that it will require constant internet access to function, many fans are getting upset and highly vocal. This idea has gained a lot of traction in the rumor mills due to many titles requiring you to purchase a pass to access online features, such as multiplayer. But what if they started applying this to all games?

One possibility is that all games will require some sort of online pass to play the game, even if the title is a single-player one. This would also factor in the constant net access being required, since they would need to monitor if your account is the primary owner of that game. Failing to find that link, you might be forced to buy an online pass.

The idea of this being a reality is laughable. Firstly, it would kill a lot of the business that gaming distributors are involved in. Gamestop would no longer accept trade-ins or sell pre-owned games at a discount. Their Powerup rewards program would suffer and they would lose a fairly large part of their overall business. Best Buy also takes part in this program, as does Amazon when they sell used copies. Many gamers don't have the cash to shell out $60 every time a game comes out, but they know if they can trade in a few old ones, they might be able to snag the newest title to hit the shelves. If they remove used game access, no store would accept trade ins.

Secondly, the ludicrous idea that it will require constant internet access? It's just not feasible. Xbox reported a few months ago that XBL has a little over 40 million members. They also reported they are just shy of 76 million Xbox 360 console sales. This would mean that another 36 million users would now be required to get internet and have a membership to XBL, rather than just an offline standard profile. And what about those gamers who don't, or can't, get internet? There are tens of millions of people in the US alone who have no access to internet. What about worldwide? The number increases to potentially hundreds of millions of people who wouldn't purchase a console because they couldn't even use it. What do players do if they lose internet connection? Are they seriously considering gamers won't be allowed to play Skyrim or Minecraft because their provider is down? What about when Microsoft have their own Xbox Live issues? What will that message be like? "Xbox Live is currently experiencing issues. Please put away your controller and wait." Nobody is going to take that issue lying down.

With Microsoft pushing for digital games using their On-Demand feature, many have also speculated that this will remove the need for a disc drive. Now, since we have source confirmation that older titles can be used on the new console, this would definitely be seen as a farce. However, this brings up even more questions. With backwards compatibility, would the requirements of it needing to be a new title and requiring permanent online access mean these titles couldn't be used either? So what would be the point of including that compatibility in the first place?

I highly doubt that Microsoft, or really any console developer, would consider going down this route, alienating millions of possible customers to make a few extra bucks on used game sales. How much does it affect them for Gamestop to sell even a few hundred thousand used games that normally would cost $60, with the potential of losing 20-30 million units in $400 console sales? I understand it hurts profit numbers for both the console and the game developers, but do they really want to win the battle at the cost of the war?


  1. Finally, a voice of reason on this topic!

  2. Very true. But sony and microsoft's greed is famous..