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Xbox One and the Next 360

Xbox One and the Next 360

Xbox One

When Microsoft announced the Xbox One they dropped the huge bombshell that the physical packaged games would be registered to only one Xbox One console/account. This would prevent consumers from sharing their copy with friends or from trading it in at retailers. Predictably, gamers were outraged and Xbox loyalists found themselves siding with Sony. Then, on June 19th Microsoft stuck it in reverse and announced that you will be able to share and trade in your Xbox One games. It’s no surprise this has been coined as Microsoft’s 180.

I predict, not so far in the future, that Microsoft will pull another 180 and this will be coined as Microsoft’s next 360. Journalists the world over will not be able to resist it. I’m not picking on Microsoft though because I expect Sony to make a similar move.

There is a natural progression in videogames and that is how the games are played and how they are delivered. Where there was once a thick cartridge jammed into the top of your console is now a disc that sits in your console’s tray. When cartridges were the norm I imagined them getting smaller but more powerful. Since they have made the transition to discs nobody has expected them on anything else. So the next logical step is being able to play your game without the disc, right?

My science-fiction side strongly supports phasing out hard copies and allowing the gaming industry to enter its digital-only era. All the money saved from packaging can be redirected to advertising and towards the management of online services. I do the majority of my browsing and shopping online anyway, so perusing the high street seems pointless. The ultimate goal is to provide gamers with cheaper retail prices, better customer support, and complete online integration.

That being said, I have never bought an AAA game digitally. I have purchased apps and mobile games but none have ever exceeded £5. I once considered buying Dead Space 3 from the Xbox Marketplace but I never made the commitment because I knew I could always buy a hard copy online. I realised I would rather wait for the mailman than have the instant availability of Dead Space 3.

PS4It’s not that Microsoft had a terrible idea. It’s just that timing is crucial and they picked the wrong time. Maybe 10 years from now gamers will look back and complain, “What was all the fuss about? Shops are offline.”

This all amounts to one thing: If videogames make the digital-only transition that means Sony will do too. Just because they didn’t announce a strict DRM policy at E3 that doesn’t mean, a few years from now, that PS4 games won’t be restricted to only one PS4. Developers already have this power on the PS3 but because it isn’t being implemented I guess people have forgotten about it.

– Lee Chesnalavage