We called it and this week, MS confirmed it. They are lined up to lose the new generation of gaming. Tuesday, they revealed their new system and… wow… not even armed with the information we had last time, could we predict this would go so wrong.
The conference itself did not shock us here at the Red Sector. Gamers were of course excited and clogged up pretty much every source we were using to try to watch LIVE. Attempting to see it live proved next to impossible between bandwidth breaking volumes of people watching and even the xbox site itself being literally unavailable, so we had to pick up scraps as we could. But since 360 was huge for this generation and most of it’s fans were hoping for both a glimpse of a glorious future and an explanation for the complete lack of exclusive titles that brought them to the machine in the first place. What they got, was basically an explanation about how the next Xbox was no longer really about games. Instead, it is about being an adapter to turn your TV into a smart-TV.
But the really interesting details are what have been revealed after this rather lack-luster presentation. Since then an online internet connection being required has been confirmed by Microsoft themselves, even as they adamantly say the system is not “always online.” Many will claim they are contradicting themselves, but I do not believe so. It sounds to me like the system needs to log on once in a while, but doesn’t use the connection constantly…. in essence you could think of it like being an online system, but having an offline mode. Anyone who uses Steam knows exactly what that means, already.
The problem we see with this, however, is timing. I have personally heard it rumored that the connection will be needed once every 24 hours, which is a ridiculous demand on any gaming system. Going back to Steam to compare, offline works for about a month, and that is not speculation or reading… that is from my own personal experience when on my previous rig, the system got messed up while I was playing Return to Castle Wolfenstien. I was able to finish the game (over a few weeks) in offline mode before worrying about fixing the software (which, if you are curious, was a simple uninstall/reinstall that took about 10 minutes). If Xbox One needs to be online every 24 hours, it has taken such requirements to a ridiculous level for any device, much less one not expected to demand an internet connection… like a console.
Nevermind if the service goes down for a week or more like we have seen on both 360 and PS3 this generation. When PSN went down for about a month due to hacking, the system still played games. Hell, it still played Netflix, as I found out to my surprise (and again from personal experience). Hell, if your internet went down, your PC, which is MUCH MORE ONLINE THEN ANY CONSOLE TODAY would still play games. Your XboxOne… may well become a literal paperweight.
The other really big concern to gamers is DRM, and the ability to play used games. MS has confirmed the games will install to the non-upgradable hard-drive to play. In fact, I have heard it rumored once a game is installed, you put the disc away and never touch it again. It’s on your hard drive and, like a PC, gameplay is discless. Instead, this disc seems to now becomes a way to “sell” copies of the game. When you first try to play, it goes online to see if you are the original user… and if so, all is good. If not, you will be asked to pay a “fee” to in essence buy your own copy to install on your machine. So, no more borrowing friend’s games and say goodbye to the traditional used market. All MS has said so far beyond what they told Wired (and everyone else reported on) is “we are working on that.”
This is bad news, guys… this is about as anti-console gamer as you can get. In essence, they are taking a console, removing it’s strengths and replacing it with none of the strengths, but almost all the weaknesses of playing modern PC games… potentially amplified by the number of days in the month (since you could be needing a connection once every 24 hours). Any gamer with half a brain can see why Microsoft is about to lose a good chunk of their hardcore market. They are going to lose this generation…. badly.
And perhaps even sadder, I need to make a new prediction. They will lose this generation, but they will still do remarkably well… because they still have timed exclusives on Call of Duty which the dude-bros will eat up completely ignorant of just how much they are getting screwed. After all, not like they will buy many other games, anyway…. they will keep the gaming side of this monstrosity afloat. But for those people who want what XboxOne is offering in their living room, they can get it fairly easy and most likely for a comparative price. Doing so will give you even more choices of how to play and what you can do, cheaper prices on your games, and even make DRM both less restictive and not always there. Build yourself a Steambox.
(Incidentally, I will be doing this soon, so you listen in for suggested builds as I begin my project.)