Tuesday, May 28, 2013

By: Jamaal Ryan
Many people are disappointed for different reasons, or all the reasons combined. As gamers, having to think that Xbox is synonymous with gaming is unnatural, simply because having to actively think about it would assume that this relationship is in question. The first half hour of Xbox One’s reveal was anything but about that synonymous relationship. However, many people fail to realize that this shouldn’t be a surprise. 
Well before the event in Redmond, Microsoft issued a statement generalizing what they were going to cover. They encouraged viewers and attendees to look forward to announcements of games, TV and entertainment… and they’ll roll out their lineup of “blockbuster games” at E3. Many made predictions based on Xbox 360’s pedigree of their focus on entertainment rather than on games alone. Those people were right. Pulled right from Xbox’s history, Peter Molyneux stated that Microsoft targeted the living room, not just games, since the original bulky system’s inception. 
What we were left with was a showcase of unnatural multitasking with Kinect – SmartGlass – your controller, and jazz hands, meaningless partnerships and features with sports companies (at least meaningless to gamers like me who don’t give a shit about sports), pre-rendered footage of upcoming EA Sports titles and Forza 5, an intriguing new IP by Remedy, Quantum Break, and an expositional look at the making of Call of Duty: Ghosts. They didn’t lie: games, TV and entertainment. 

Some of you are disappointed, and I understand that because so am I. But this shouldn’t have blind-sided you. In any event, if Microsoft was so tight lipped about games and are currently working on 15 exclusives, 8 of them – including Quantum Break – are original IP’s, predictions are a risky business in this industry, but E3 might very well win us over.  Xbox is a gaming platform deeply invested in this market regardless of the additives and alternate functionalities that the Xbox One will have. Games aren’t going anywhere, and we’ll see them very soon.
But those of us who were perplexed may have missed out on the redacted bits of information that was absent from the unveiling. Instant game saves even after shutting down? Are these games installed? And if so, how much gigs of space are we dealing with? Wait a minute, wasn’t I flipping the fuck out about always online? Where’s mentioning about that? Oh and, did I hear something about me having to purchase a game even if my buddy lends it to me? 
Let’s address the most venomous rumor first. Microsoft has confirmed that Xbox One requires an internet connection, but isn’t required to be always online. If your box can check into the internet once every 24 hours, you’re golden. Though this may sound like a happy middle ground between an off-line console and one with a persistent connection, anyone with internet troubles knows that connection issues can last more than 24 hours which would in turn disable you from playing your games throughout that time. 
But what if you don’t have a connection at all? I would assume that Microsoft has considered geographical populations where the amount of those connected to the internet is substantially less than the entire sample. The chances are, they took their bets on alienating that demographic because those potential consumers weren’t needed for their business. It’s fucked up, but understandable. But what about moving your Xbox to a different location without an internet connection (I flew to St. Croix for a week last summer where the internet pales in comparison to ours here in the States. Guess I won’t be bringing my Xbox One down there next time), perhaps out of the country or to a hotel where you don’t feel like paying a fee for internet access? That experience is completely locked out for you, and you’ll consider bringing another platform. 
Moving on to the newest controversy behind used games sales, the feed of the system’s features in regards to this have been anything but consistent. First, it was stated that purchased games (which all require an install) won’t be playable at a friend’s house thanks to a type of unit based activation code. Then more detail was released assuring that we can indeed play games at a friend’s, however we will have to be signed into our own account. If any gamer wanted to pick up a title that was owned by someone else, we can assume that this includes purchasing one at Gamestop, they will have to pay for it. Whether it would be full price or a separate fee is unknown (at least to this writer; please correct if necessary) as both scenarios have been mentioned.
Update: As reported in this week’s A WEEK IN GAMING, there have been claims that Microsoft has partnered up with retailers who will get a cut of used game sales in addition to the publishers and Microsoft themselves who will also get a cut from every sale.

Also, Geoff Keighley indicated that publishers wish to  use DRM on used games, which may or may not align with previous statements on games sales. (Edited 5.27.13)
Last and perhaps least is the mandatory installation. Like the 24 hour incremental connection, this may very well be DRM. But with Blu-Ray discs holding 25 GB of storage, and a 500 GB system that will have significantly less room thanks to the beastly OS trifecta Xbox One is wielding, how many games can we fit on that hard drive? What will gamers like me who power through nearly two dozen games in 12 months do? Will these 300,000 servers allow us to beam chunks of data – meaning entire games – to the cloud? Sure, the Xbox One supports external hard drives, but essentially you’re expanding space at an extra cost to compensate for a feature that we didn’t ask for. 
This concludes week one of Xbox One reveal post mortem, and already the information delivered from the system publisher seems deliberately cagy, slowly bleeding news that is seemingly consumer unfriendly. When all the facts roll out and all the cards are on the table, if concerns prove any kind of accuracy, then Microsoft will have to do some serious damage control preparation, and have a hell of a fight in this upcoming console race starting at the end of 2013.

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