I would like to start with the immortal words of Semisonic. “Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.” And so goes the gaming industry since its inception. New Consoles come and old ones fade away into the abyss. With new gaming hardware on the not too distant horizon, rumors of what these new wonder boxes will entail have been spilling out faster than stories of Lindsay Lohan’s arrest reports. We know a fair amount about the Wii U, however Microsofts next console, codenamed “Durango”, and the Playstation “Orbis” have unconfirmed rumors coming out seemingly every day. So with that said I felt it might be an appropriate time to reflect on some of these reports and examine the possibility, or lack there of, that any of these will come to fruition.
NO USED GAMES:
The first rumor that happens to pertain to both the Durango and the Orbis the idea that both consoles will in some way restrict used games. Now financially this seems to make sense for Microsoft and Sony who lose millions of dollars every year from used game sales. Retailers like Gamestop buy back games from consumers for next to nothing in most cases, and then resell those used games for just a couple of dollars less than a new copy. Instead of people buying the game new, they can opt for the $5 off used version. This essentially cuts out the people who are actually responsible for creating this product from seeing the fruits of their labor. If the companies that make these games are not making enough of a profit or selling enough copies then just like any company they may simply stop making games.
The used games debate is a much bigger issue than simply cutting off used games all together. Do consumers own the right to resell their games? Are they simply renting the rights to the game? Us console gamers may find this to be a crazy idea but, this is something that PC gamers have been dealing with for years now with DRM and CD keys making sure that the do not have full rights to the game they have paid for. However, PC gamers usually pay about $10 dollars less so the savings are passed on somewhat.
I for one do not want to be the one to tell this guy if this rumor comes true. It will break his little heart.
Then there is the question of how would this actually be implemented. The first idea would be similar to that of the online pass which has become almost a staple of the industry these days. Gamers could purchase their game as normal but be forced to input a one time use code in order to use the game much like the CD key that PC gamers use. Then the game can still be resold as a used game, however in order to play the game on another console the user would have to then purchase another play pass or user key, whatever you want to call it, in order to unlock the full game. An idea would be to allow the user play a demo of sorts with the used game, with the option to unlock the full experience by purchasing a full game pass. This would allow the used game market to exist while guaranteeing developers and publishers are not completely losing out on potential profits.
Now do I think that Microsoft and Sony are ready to cut out used games completely? No I do not. Do I think that profits lost from the used game market are something that Microsoft and Sony are very concerned about? Of course. So with that said I do not think Microsoft or Sony are ready to mess with Gamestop and cut out used games completely. Gamestop is a huge gaming retailer and they have a symbiotic relationship with each other that neither can afford to lose at this point. I do think that the idea of the online pass could bleed over into some games however. This may be something that is tested to see the response as has been done with different DRM features in the past with PC games. If it has a strong enough public outcry they can always choose to patch it out of the game later.
INTERNET CONNECTION REQUIRED:
The Durango has been rumored to require a constant internet connection in order to play the games. This would presumably go hand in hand with the used games being cut off as well as being a way to combat piracy. Now this is something that at first glance most of us would say “so what? My console is always connected to the internet.” My grandparents have wifi for god sakes therefore everyone should. Well apparently this is still not a standard for everyone. High speed internet has come a long way in the last 10 years but there are still plenty of places even within America where high speed internet does not exist. Whatever the reason whether it not be cost effective to bring it to a certain area or they simply do not want to have it, high speed internet is simply not a universal given.
I do not have any children myself but am aware that there is a whole generation of new young gamers out there. From my time spent playing multiplayer shooters and such online I am not sure I would allow my kid access to XBOX live until he was at least 15. The amount of racial/ethnic/lifestyle choice/general profanity that occurs online is ridiculous. If you can go online and not be called something ridiculous for no reason at all by some pre pubescent boy then you have lucked out. So parents can choose to not give their child access to XBOX live or the PSN. If the internet is require to play the games then these kids would not be able to play these games.
I can only imagine a 6 year old trying to convince his parents that it is okay if he goes online because he needs too. They would probably just tell him “well i guess you aren’t playing that”. Not everyone grew up playing games and have the respect and understanding that us gamers do. I work with plenty of people in their 30s with kids that couldn’t care less about games or high speed internet. A decision like this would cut out a large market and I believe it is something that neither company could afford to do.
NO DISC DRIVE:
With the increase in storage space increasing exponentially with every new iteration of a console and downloadable games becoming more and more popular, many would think that discs will eventually go the way of the dodo. First off let me say that no disc drive goes hand in hand with my previous argument against a constant internet connection being required since that would presumably be the way to obtain these games so that is one strike against this idea off the bat. Everywhere you look there is talk about physical media disappearing and that this will be the final generation with them. The PSP Go tried this and failed, and PSN games are known to sell almost universally terribly. So if history shows us anything we are just not ready to abandon discs.
People love collecting things. Collector’s additions have become so prevalent that any game worth its weight in salt has one. People want to hold that box. They want to rip off that plastic. I for one love opening things. It just feels good to hold that new game box and place it in the disc tray knowing you are ready for a good time. To me downloading diminishes the power of the game. This is not just for games but movies too. I am just more likely to watch a movie or play a game if I have the physical disc there with me. It just makes me want to play. Now I know this is probably a strange thing to most people but I know I can not be the only one who is a little weird.
So last gen
Storage space may have come a long way but internet speeds are only so fast. Games are already pushing 3 discs on XBOX and coming close to filling up a blu-ray disc, so downloading these games would take some time. Having to sit and wait for that game to download cuts out the excitement and instant satisfaction that you can get from putting the game in the disc tray. Even if you have a small update it would take no where near as long as downloading a game. Storage would also have to be pushed to almost a terabyte in order to store a handful of next generation games assuming that they continue to take up more and more space.
I think it is also important to look as who typically purchases many of these games. As I said before there are new gamers being born every day. If they are anything like I was as a young gamer then their parents and grandparents will be buying them games for holidays, birthdays and other occasions. Try explaining how to buy Xbox live points to my grandparents and they would be so confused. No grandma $10 is 800 Microsoft point don’t you get it. Also Christmas is about opening gifts for most families. You can’t open a digital game. Using my parents and grandparents to buy me games for christmas was my number one way of obtaining games until I was older and could become self sufficient.
This seems to be an extremely unlikely scenario for the Durango and one that I would very much be against.
BLU RAY FOR DURANGO:
The HD video wars were a short lived event that we may remember from almost a decade ago now. Both Blu-ray and HD-DVD offered similar storage capacity and HD video capability. Although Microsoft bet on HD-DVD they were smart enough not to include in within the XBOX console itself instead opting for the ill-fated HD-DVD add on. Sony went all out and included a Blu-ray disc within its PS3 which was I felt was an excellent idea because at the time of its release the PS3 was the cheapest Blu-ray player on the market. So if you wanted a Blu-ray player why not just buy a PS3. So that battle ended almost as soon as it started and the HD-DVD faded into history.
The XBOX has now been using DVDs for its games throughout its life cycle, which has been mostly fine, except for the fact of the much lower storage capacity compared to Blu-ray discs. For this reason some XBOX games, such as FF XIII, Mass Effect 2/3, and L.A. Noir, have come on multiple discs for the XBOX, while they were able to fit on one Blu-ray disc for the PS3. As games require more storage it only makes sense that Microsoft give in and adopt what has become the next generation storage disc for both games and movies. Also with the cost of these Blu-ray drives coming down considerably, opting to place it within their next-gen console would seem to make a lot of sense. Out of all of the rumors dealt with so far this is one I consider to be almost a given.
I have focused on just a small sample of the rumors that are out there right not for these consoles and probably just the beginning of whats to come as we inch closer to their inevitable reveal. How do you feel about some of these rumors? What would you like to see on the next generation of consoles? Would the lack of used games keep you from buying a particular console? Let me know in the comments below.