Happy E3 start day everyone! Be sure to stay tuned later on today as the convention kicks off and we start getting our first looks at the exciting games of the future. But for now, a bit of “in case you missed it” news from a few days back.
It took a whole lot of dancing, but it appears Microsoft has finally decided to lay it all (or most of it) on the table when it comes to what their Xbox 360 successor, the Xbox One, will do when it comes to the two biggest question marks, always being connected to the internet and blocking used games.
The company has gone into great detail about how their system will work in regard to both of these hot button gamer issues, and you can see what they’ve said below.
When it comes to the “always on” concern that your console would have to be connected to the internet constantly in order to function, we’ve heard everything. There’s been rumors galore over the months, and only now are we getting firm answers. Right after the company first unveiled the Xbox One, they were asked point blank whether or not it would always have to be connected, and they said no. But alas, this was part of the aforementioned dance.
No, your Xbox One will not always have to be connected to the internet. But it will, as has been rumored, have to connect to the internet at least once every 24 hours. Rarely do people game for 24 hours straight, and this won’t be much of an issue for most, but what about all of those people who are just starting out and have trouble affording food and electricity in general, let alone internet? No Xbox One for you. The reason for this is supposedly so that the system can always be updating to make your experience a better one, but I personally never had an issue with having to do a quick update here and there. And to ban people from playing any games until you connect that one time per day? Seems a bit excessive. How many people will refuse to purchase this system because no one wants to spend thousands of their hard earned dollars to a company who maintains control of the product you’re supposed to “own” and can tell you when you can and cannot play a game?
Microsoft tries to explain it all by saying:
To ensure Xbox One works optimally and can offer the experiences described above, it is designed with the following networking requirements:
For an optimal experience, we recommend a broadband connection of 1.5Mbps. (For reference, the average global internet connection speed as measured recently by Akamai was 2.9 Mbps). In areas where an Ethernet connection is not available, you can connect using mobile broadband.
While a persistent connection is not required, Xbox One is designed to verify if system, application or game updates are needed and to see if you have acquired new games, or resold, traded in, or given your game to a friend. Games that are designed to take advantage of the cloud may require a connection.
With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies.
A new generation of games with power from the cloud: Because every Xbox One owner has a broadband connection, developers can create massive, persistent worlds that evolve even when you’re not playing.
As for used games, that seems to get more and more complicated each time they try and explain it. With new information, it sounds like they’re leaving a lot of it up to the publishers of games to decide.
“In our role as a game publisher, Microsoft Studios will enable you to give your games to friends or trade in your Xbox One games at participating retailers. Third party publishers may opt in or out of supporting game resale and may set up business terms or transfer fees with retailers. Microsoft does not receive any compensation as part of this. In addition, third party publishers can enable you to give games to friends.
We designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers. Microsoft does not charge a platform fee to retailers, publishers, or consumers for enabling transfer of these games.”
While that’s all well and good, it was one thing that sounded like a good idea at first that was also revealed, and that was that they would allow you to give a friend a game one time. This was still not perfect, as some people like to let multiple friends borrow games, but it was a way to at least let someone borrow a game one time. Right? Wrong. What this means that you will be able to give a friend a game one time. Permanently. There will be NO letting your friends borrow games when the Xbox One is launched…but they are exploring options to change that going forward, at least.
Another big concern is the new Kinect, which was said to be on even when your Xbox One is off so that you can turn the system on or off with a simple voice command. This of course led many to worry that this machine would be watching you, recording you, listening, even monitoring your heartbeat. All exceptionally creepy. Microsoft says that this is not the case, and that the only thing Kinect will respond to is the audible “Xbox On” and “Xbox Off” commands.
Side note: who’s brilliant decision was it to name the console confusingly similar to the “Xbox On” command? Surely that won’t backfire. And what happens if you’re playing Call of Duty with friends and tell a story where the words “Xbox” and “off” are said together during an intense battle, such as “So get this: I was trying to explain to my grandmother what the Xbox One was and the little bastard turned ON! So of course I had to scream ‘Xbox Off’ and then… Hello? Damnit!” Just an example, but you get the idea. Hopefully they too have thought of such things.
Here’s what they said about the Kinect:
“At Microsoft, we prioritize your privacy. We understand that your personal data and privacy are important. Xbox One and Kinect will provide tools to put you in control of your data.
You are in control of what Kinect can see and hear. By design, you will determine how responsive and personalized your Xbox One is to you and your family during setup. The system will navigate you through key privacy options, like automatic or manual sign in, privacy settings, and clear notifications about how data is used. When Xbox One is on and you’re simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded.”
This is a good thing, of course, but that’s not going to stop people from wondering. Just because a company says this, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Which means most who do get the console will be unplugging it constantly or trying to cover the camera/microphone. Let the conspiracy theories begin!
Because most people are always connected anyway, most can swallow that, and the same goes for people who buy new games anyway and rarely/borrow lend. If the tech does exactly what Microsoft says it will and nothing more, then those people should be happy with this console evolution. But there are still going to be a significant amount of people who don’t like these design choices for a handful of reasons, and who don’t trust what Microsoft is doing…especially with recent news involving Verizon.
The interest in next-gen consoles is slowly changing from seeing what the consoles will offer, to how consumers will actually respond to them when it’s all said and done. All I know is, if Sony is smart, they will scream from the rooftops that they have zero used game blocks/complications and zero online requirements for non-multiplayer games (even if they initially planned these things), and that Microsoft better have an emergency backup plan that fixes some of these restrictions if it all goes to hell for them at launch.