Ok, everyone take a deep breath, and let it out slowly as you read.
In the post-coital glow following today’s Xbox One event, rumors / “official” statements / outright lies are circulating like mad. Of course, if you’re like me, the glow is the less romantic, and more the dying embers of a giant wildfire of suck. The things I say next aren’t going to help with that.
A while back, there were all kinds of things said about the possibility of the new console being “always on,” i.e. requiring an internet connection, at all times, simply to function. There were additionally things said concerning how the system would handle used games, with signs seeming to indicate that it would not support GameStop’s industry of lies.
Today, neither of those concerns was addressed directly at the event, but here in the ashes, things are coming to light:
Always On – The prevailing theory here is that the system will not require an internet connection to turn on, or even play games… for the most part. Several publishers have already indicated that their individual titles may need a constant connection, and streaming services already need that to function. Now, though, comes info that your console will be performing routine connection tests every 24 hours for… “updates.” Of course, no one has spoken directly to what happens if your console isn’t connected for one of these routine checks.
Secondhand Games – I use this particular term for a very specific reason, and the reason is that certain new functions may eliminate not only used games, but borrowing games as well. Furious yet? Let’s continue. The function is question is a kind of licensing system that would tie games to your account, like the registration keys that have become so common on PC. You would buy a new game, put in the code, and then your account would have the right to play any copy of that game, across any console. Try and lend it to a friend, though, and they would be prompted to purchase that license, at whatever price the publisher is currently asking. Same thing for used games; doesn’t matter how much you paid GameStop for that disc of Madden 2016, no license, no go.
So what do I think about all of this? Well, to begin with, anyone who read my predictions about the next generation – and the next Microsoft console in particular – will know that this is familiar territory. These things also go hand-in-hand, as I will know discuss:
Assume the licensing thing is true. Downloadable titles currently require a connection to validate the license on all consoles except for the one they were originally downloaded on, so that’s not a huge step to take. That functionality would be useless without a way to check the license… so required internet is a given. Of course, you could just elect not to connect in order to play a borrowed / used game, but that would eliminate the ability to play online, and would probably disable achievements. So the console might not “require” a “constant” connection, functionality, even at the most basic level, could be hindered severely.
More than players, more than developers, more than threats from high-end pawn shops, console manufacturers have to please publishers. This system would give publishers exceptional control over their properties, and the profits generated from them. As such, if you were thinking Sony would be free from these chains, think again.
Welcome to the future.