Friday, June 7, 2013

Xbox One: What this means for gamers

With the recent news coming forth clarifying Microsoft’s policies regarding the Xbox One, the outcry from the gaming community has escalated to a fervor. There have been many controversial instances in gaming history, but none have seen the sort of discussion the Xbox One has caused over the past 24 hours. Rumors not only were substantiated in some cases, but some came in actually worse.

The first focus is on the used games policy. Allowing 10 family members to access your cloud saved games is a neat addition, but exact details on how those members are verified has not been released. Another missing bit of info to this feature is if family members can access the same games you are playing at that current moment, and if multiple family members can be online using the cloud at the same time.

Another issue with the used games policy is the fact you can loan out a game to your friend. Once. You can’t loan the disc to someone else afterwards, and there is no confirmation if the “one-time loan” means 1 person or 1 time only. A friend may want to finish the game at a later date and then be required to buy the full copy, rather than finish using the same disc as before.

The announcement that loaned and rental games will not be available at launch is a slap in the face to gamers who rely on places like redbox or gamefly to play the newest titles. Not everyone can afford to shell out $60 everytime a new game comes out, and with the restrictions on trade-in policies, this had the potential of being big business for rental companies. Microsoft did say that the Xbox One is designed to work with trade-ins, however a full breakdown of how that system will now operate hasn’t been released.

The second focus deals with privacy concerns. The Kinect demonstration at the Microsoft press conference was impressive. It also raised a lot of concerns about how much the Kinect will register and if the data it collects can be used by outside sources. Microsoft saying it “won’t be collected without your permission” is no real comfort, as more and more our tech is used to spy on us regardless of our personal wishes.

Saying we can turn off some of the Kinect functions does nothing to cool peoples heads about this issue. The important ones are always running the background which Microsoft has confirmed. The possibility of personal conversation or actions done in front of the camera being recorded and possibly uploaded to a company server is a very real concern, one which should not be taken lightly.


The third focus is in regards to the console requiring internet connection to function. Look, the internet is growing, that’s a given. The broadband infrastructure continues to grow every year, but we are not at a point in our technological age where online connection is out there for everyone. Hundreds of millions of potential customers don’t have any access to the internet. Even more don’t have access to a mobile band that they could substitute it with. The Xbox One requires an internet connection once every day. If you go more than 24 hours without connecting online, your Xbox stops playing games. It stops playing games. A gaming console that doesn’t play games is what, class? It’s a frigging paperweight. A sleek and shiny paperweight, but it’s still a gigantic, VCR looking paperweight.

Microsoft and Sony have both put out an extremely large prediction at a billion consoles being sold. There aren’t a billion people in this world that have access to constant, reliable internet let alone a billion who could afford the console in the first place. The world is broke. Not the US, not Europe, the WORLD is broke. With a rumored price of $600 for either console, the odds on selling a billion units is insane. If they manage to sell 100 million in ten years I’ll be impressed, but they are talking 1 billion within 5 years. Maybe these companies haven’t looked out the window in a while. The worldwide economy is in shambles and you expect people to buy a console which won’t even play games without some sort of internet connection?

Look, we get it. Used games can cost the company money. Rentals
get it out to thousands instead of potentially thousands of games being sold. Is losing that small bit of revenue worth risking your entire fan base? The Xbox One is an “all in one” system. That’s great, it really is. But why is it an all-in-one minus the big one the Xbox was built on? This is the next-gen gaming console. Not allowing people to use the damn thing for what it’s main purpose is is absurd. The Xbox is supposed to be a huge innovation of entertainment technology. The demoed “IllumiRoom” tech is astounding and the addition of features like sports streaming, skype while gaming, and uploading your games straight from the console all gave hints to what could possibly be the best thing the living room has ever seen. But those were supposed to be additional features. Making those features the primary goal is going to destroy the sales figures and the console’s overall enjoyment factor.

Microsoft needs to step back and reevaluate what they are doing to the Xbox name, because with the restrictions they are placing on used games, possible invasion of privacy, and the fact that without internet you are basically buying a several hundred dollar DVD player with remote the Xbox One is going to be chewed up and spat out in the next-gen console war.

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