The Next Xbox: Rumors Abound
As with anything so highly anticipated, rumors abound lately about both Microsoft’s and Sony’s soon to be announced consoles. As with all rumors, some are more credible than others, and some are simply fiction. However, the idea of locking out used games via codes and required constant connections, whether to combat piracy or simply to increase revenue flow, just keeps popping up. Verge is the latest to site “sources” who say this will be happening, but certainly not the first, and honestly, I think it’s a likely addition – if not now, then soon. PCs have made games single user for a long time, and with such massive budgets, companies are likely looking at every angle to increase profits. Unfortunately, in a scenario like this, the customers are the obvious losers.
Sure, there are some gamers that keep every game they play; but they are in the minority. Whether due to space issues or money issues, once we’ve played a game to the finish most of us either give it to a friend, donate to a worthy cause, or sell it to fund the next game purchase. Used games are a huge part of gaming culture. They allow us to try games we may never have if purchasing new was the only option. They allow us bring our favorite games along for stays at a friend or relatives house. They allow us the nostalgia of seeking out those treasures we adored when we were young. And certainly, they allow many gamers the opportunity to buy more new games simply because they are able to sell when they are done.
And sure, a lot of us have ready access to the internet, and so why worry about “always on”? Well, the fact is, a lot of us don’t have constant internet access, for various reasons. Maybe we’re a little short for a few months and have to cut costs. Maybe we do most of our internet searching and commenting via smartphone. Maybe we don’t have internet access at all, or what we do have is kind of spotty. Or maybe we just plain don’t like the idea of being required to have a constant connection. Ten years ago, none of that would have made much difference to our gaming time, but the future seems poised to turn gaming into something only some can do.
Beyond even those issues – even if we all could agree that this is something that has to happen and we all need to accept it – is the issue of will it work? We’ve all seen trends recently that require you to input codes for the online pass portions of new games. And you know what? We’ve also seen that they don’t always work. As a consumer, you definitely can get locked out of a game you have rightfully purchased simply because of code issues, and getting that fixed is not usually an easy issue. In the world gaming, it seems that consumers are assumed guilty until proven innocent. We already have to put up with horrendously long day one updates, and to be faced with not being able to play your new game at all for days while you wrangle with customer support is disheartening to say the least. And even if you do get it to work, what if you buy a new console? What if you have a multiple console household? Are gamers literally to be tied to a single console for their $60 purchase? The idea really isn’t too farfetched.
Which really brings us to the heart of the issue: cost. Whenever talk of single owner games comes up, Steam is a natural point made. After all, no one expects to resell their Steam games. But then, how many Steam games are people paying $60 for? Some, maybe, but the majority are buying less expensive games digitally, and fairly happy with it. It would be easy to say, “Fine, I won’t be able to resell it, but at $20, or $30, I’m okay with that, and I won’t have an essentially worthless disc laying around after I install it.” When you turn $20 or $30 into $60 or $70, it isn’t quite so easy to blow off. And what *do* you do with those game discs when you’re finished? You can’t donate them, can’t sell them – are we to throw them away? Really?
At this point, it’s all just rumors, of course. But I think a lot of them are fairly plausible, given the climate in gaming in the last few years. What do you think? Is this a likely addition to the next console generation, or just a lot of hot air? And what do you think of the idea of locking out used games, and constant connection required? Let us know in the comments below!