The latest rumor comes from Edge, specifically stating the following:
Microsoft’s next console will require an Internet connection in order to function, ruling out a second-hand game market for the platform. A new iteration of Xbox Live will be an integral part of Microsoft’s next console, while improved Kinect hardware will also ship alongside the unit.
Even though this is all speculation, the more you think about it, the more it makes sense, to me at least. Developers and publishers have been trying to stop the used/rental game industry for years, this time, they may actually do so. Unfortunately they have the upper hand as if developers don’t create the game, then publishers can’t publish the game and we never get our hands on it so Microsoft may have to give in unfortunately.
What does this mean for you? Basically, you will need to have a very reliable internet connection, although this type of DRM (Digital Rights Management) protection has failed in the past (thanks to Ubisoft and Blizzard), although with Microsoft’s hand in it, it may actually work. If you don’t have a reliable internet connection, then the next-gen console is probably not going to work in your favor. Next, let’s talk about internet connections. I may be the only one that thinks outside of the box, but the next-gen games are said to be on Blu-ray. Blu-ray can hold up to 50GB of data on one disc. Have you checked your connection to see how long it takes to download 50GBs? My own experience, it’s about a 3-day wait, because my internet connection is not solely used for downloading as I’m sure many households are similar. Those of us that want the games on release day, ask yourself if you are really going to be happy sitting and waiting however many days to download a game? Probably not, but never fear, they have a solution according to Edge:
Sources with first-hand experience of Microsoft’s next generation console have told us that although the next Xbox will be absolutely committed to online functionality, games will still be made available to purchase in physical form. Next Xbox games will be manufactured on 50GB-capacity Blu-ray discs, Microsoft having conceded defeat to Sony following its ill-fated backing of the HD-DVD format. It is believed that games purchased on disc will ship with activation codes, and will have no value beyond the initial user.
So the convenience they are trying to evolve onto us is no longer convenient and we then have to go to the store anyway. But then again, killing the used game market will probably not put a damper on most businesses, only a couple, although I don’t believe companies will be forced to close as there are other used games and rentals for other systems that are available. The only reason I tend to think it’s going this way is because investors in GameStop specifically, have pulled their shares according to Forbes. Now if this was truly a rumor, why would investors go through the hassle of pulling their shares out of a company with no official announcements from anyone? Sure some people live off of rumors but are there really that many feared investors to drop the GameStop market share 6%?
Anyhow, the last issue I have with the internet connection is that most have a cap on how much data you can download per month. Most providers do not declare this information unless asked. Mine right now is 250GB a month, that means theoretically I can only download 5 games a month, but being realistic, let’s say I only purchase one or 2 games in that month. Being that the next Xbox is focused on becoming more of your home entertainment system than it is currently, I also stream Netflix, my cable providers channels and Hulu. That also counts towards my limit, so in any given month, I’m going to be charged with overage fees from my internet provider all because of this digital world we are moving to. Once again, I will not have a choice. If I continue down this path, I will be forced to upgrade my internet connection costing me more money.
That brings up my next point, some people are stating that they may move to a Steam/iTunes store idea, which is fine, but do you honestly believe that the developers and/or publishers are really going to go through all of this effort to sell games and make less profit? I highly doubt it, so games will stay at the regular retail prices unless they go on sale. The only deals that we will be able to get will be when the “Xbox Store”, I’ll call it, has deals as they did this past holiday season, or stores that sell retail take a loss on overstock. I mention overstock as I know a lot of people will be upset if all of this really happens, and the console market will be deeply hindered causing more overstock than usual unless all of this is anticipated by some pretty intelligent decision makers.
Lastly, I am a renter and a pre-owner and a bargain shopper, I love being able to make sure I don’t waste money on garbage games as you know we’ve gone through quite a few. Those games I do like I tend to purchase used anyway or try to buy new if the price is really good through whichever retailer. There are only a handful that I pay full retail price on release day because to be honest, those developers did one heck of a job and its worth it. Other games, in my opinion, not so much.
Developers are really going to need to make it mandatory for demos for every single game ever created if they plan on getting people to purchase these games at full prices or set up a trial system something similar as to how we are able to rent movies through Xbox Live. If we can try a full game for a day for a couple of bucks, that might work and those that want the full game can just purchase it then, like the Karaoke game (although I still think the cost is too high). I’ve been burned one too many times by paying full price for a game and finding out its complete garbage which again, is not our fault. If your company releases garbage, the market will reflect it so stop blaming pirating and used/rental games to your profit loss and put more effort into the not so popular games. Another hint, keep making DLC like Harmonix does and maybe you will stay afloat.
Developers also need to take new approaches if they are complaining about lost profits. Typical example, some games come out as “Game of the Year” editions with full downloadable content on a second disk. They typically are priced lower than buying the game new when it was released and purchasing DLC separately, which I’m assuming they are trying to get more people interested in the game. But why not include a one-time use code as they do with online passes, otherwise you can just get a used copy for even less. At this point, I’m not even sure they even know what they want to do or are doing currently (the online pass deal was a developer decision, as Microsoft had nothing to do with it).
I did have a slight ray of hope that the next-gen would be backwards compatible, but as it sounds, more likely than not, meaning my 300+ games I’ve purchased in the past years are useless. I feel we are eventually going to be nickeled and dimed until we have no more nickels or dimes to spare. I posted this because us gamers, as a whole, need to speak up and hope to make some kind of impact, otherwise they will do what they please and unfortunately the current generation consoles may be the last a lot of people will own. Please share your thoughts!