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Xbox One: Game Over for Game Over

Xbox One: Game Over for Game Over

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Microsoft recently held a closed-door meeting called Xbox 101 (Xbox One-0-1, if you will) where they demonstrated the computing power of the Xbox One, which they claim exceeds the computational power of more than ten Xbox 360 consoles. However, the hardware inside Microsoft’s new black box is not solely responsible for this. Its ability to be connected to the Internet at all times allows it to use the cloud, which can greatly increase what the Xbox One is capable of.

I’m not going to argue that Microsoft’s announcements at E3 were in the best interests of gamers or indie developers. The PS4 being slightly cheaper and Sony’s more welcoming approach to self-publishing has given their black box a head start, but once the dust has settled what advantages does the Xbox One have further down the race track?

If Microsoft had stuck to their guns, being connected to the Internet at all times seems like one of its greatest weaknesses but it might have become its greatest strength. Xbox One games still have the option to be connected at all times, so if developers choose to do so the possibilities are what separate the next-gen from the current-gen. By accessing the cloud developers would be able to create huge, living environments. If there are two things gamers want from new games it is scope and variety.

Pokemon Black and White seasonal change
Imagine a game world that has realistic weather cycles, or one that has life-like seasonal changes. I for one would love to play a game where a seed I planted flourishes into a tree over time, or where a home I built in the middle of nowhere decays due to neglect while I’m busy slaying (or riding) dragons on another continent.

The cloud provides developers the chance to create console games that never end. PC gamers are no strangers to this concept. Role-Playing games are constantly updated to increase their lifespan and First-Person-Shooters receive new maps to keep fans hooked. Even consoles get downloadable content, which are basically extra episodes for extra money. I truly think though, that the cloud has the potential to blur the line between what a gamer buys and what a gamer gets.

So is this game over for game over? Will all games become more MMO-like, and less episodic? I expect that the next-gen consoles will redefine what a game is capable of by creating game worlds that are more like simulations than a combination of different levels and locations, and rather than charging players for extra content it will all be included in the initial price tag.

– Lee Chesnalavage

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