Microsoft are promising the most powerful console of all time, but is the Scorpio really worth getting excited over?
Five Legitimate Scenarios The Xbox One Won’t Work In
At E3 2013, Microsoft finally clarified their digital rights management and online connectivity policies for the Xbox One and, simply put, it’s pretty fucking bad. Here are some choice quotes from the press release Microsoft put out regarding these policies:
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.
- We designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers.
- Give your family access to your entire games library anytime, anywhere: Xbox One will enable new forms of access for families. Up to ten members of your family can log in and play from your shared games library on any Xbox One. Just like today, a family member can play your copy of Forza Motorsport at a friend’s house.
- 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.
- Loaning or renting games won’t be available at launch, but we are exploring the possibilities with our partners.
- Xbox One is designed so game publishers can enable you to give your disc-based games to your friends. There are no fees charged as part of these transfers. There are two requirements: you can only give them to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days and each game can only be given once.
- If you don’t want the Kinect sensor on while playing games or enjoying your entertainment, you can pause Kinect. When the system is off, it’s only listening for the single voice command — “Xbox On,” and you can even turn that feature off too.
In the week since these policies were announced, people far more intelligent and well-written than us have detailed exactly why this policy is bad. Instead of rehashing their valid arguments, today we’re going to present five hypothetical but valid scenarios in which Microsoft’s new console will not work. Full-stop. Will not work unless Microsoft makes special exceptions or substantially changes these current policies.
Which they are unlikely to do.
Welcome to the next generation.
We often forget just how prevalent gaming systems are in the military. But, it’s true, video games consoles, particularly the Xbox 360, are often found in military outposts throughout Iraq, Afghanistan, and aboard Navy ships. Soldiers in the military use video games as one of their main ways to relax after-duty, and many military outposts even carry games. But with the Xbox One, many of these consumers will not be able to upgrade.
The problem is that the Xbox One requires an online connection once every 24 hours, a level of connectivity that many military bases lack. While we haven’t seen what happens after those 24 hours first-hand, Microsoft’s press release makes it pretty clear that games will no longer function. For the average consumer, this persistent check is an annoyance, but for many soldiers, it’s a deal-breaker.
Microsoft is clearly aware of this market, the company donated hundreds of Kinects to the military during the 2011 holiday. That makes it all the more confusing that the company would ignore this small, but highly respected contingent of their market. Perhaps Microsoft will release a special military version of the One, although privacy concerns make this seem unlikely.
Guess what! A lot of places in the world still don’t have internet access! In fact, only 34% of the world’s population has access to the internet! That’s not a lot, right?
Okay, fine, it’s fair to assume that a lot of the people without internet access live in countries that the Xbox One wouldn’t be released in anyway. But a lot of students study abroad, in schools across the world. And considering the fact that basically every previous video game console could work in this situation, it’s hard to excuse Microsoft for excluding this audience of international students, no matter how tiny their numbers.
While the days of Blockbuster and Hollywood Video are all but gone, the market for renting movies and video games still very much exists. Gamefly and Redbox continue to grow in prominence and popularity, specifically with their video game rental services. This is a good thing, because renting services benefit the price-weary consumer in a magnitude of ways, offering them the ability to evaluate games before purchasing them or just allowing them to contribute more to the overall industry.
However, with the Xbox One’s strict disc activation restrictions, renting will not be possible on the Xbox One. While Microsoft says they are exploring options with their partners, this recent statement released by Redbox doesn’t fill us with much confidence. It appears that, at least initially, renting games will not be possible on the next Xbox, limiting another chunk of the audience.
While we normally (with admittedly good reason) view Sony‘s online network as less secure and more prone to outages, it’s important to remember Xbox Live has had it’s own rough spots. The online service was down for a number of users just a few months ago, and let’s not forget that Christmas in 2007 when the service was down for eleven straight days.
We aren’t signaling Microsoft out here, no online service has a perfect uptime record. EA‘s servers broke under the load of 2013’s Sim City, many of Apple’s services suffered major outages earlier in the year, and even Google’s services have suffered downtime. Basing any offline product on an online service is a losing proposition, because there’s always going to be a moment when that online service fails. And then what happens?
Going by the history books, it probably just won’t work.
Remember earlier in this article where we said only 34% of the world has access to the Internet? We bet you probably thought we were only talking about areas outside of America. Well, guess what, a whole lot of people in America don’t have access to the Internet either! According to a study in 2010, only 71% of American households were connected to the internet.
And hey, a lot of those people apparently own Xbox 360s. At the end of last year, Microsoft announced that they have over 40 million Xbox Live members. Only a few months later, the company announced that over 77 million Xbox 360s have been sold since launch, leaving roughly 37 million Xboxes without Live memberships, roughly half the console’s user base.
Sure, some of those consoles could probably be replacement consoles, and no one is trying to argue that the Xbox Live membership count has stood still since December. But, even with the most optimistic predictions, this still leaves a very large chunk of Microsoft’s existing user base unconnected. And with broadband rates in America still struggling, it’s doubtful that internet connectivity in one of Xbox’s biggest markets is going to improve as fast as Microsoft wants it to.
We aren’t trying to be overtly cruel to Microsoft; coming out of E3, the company has a number of strong games and we’re overall excited to see where the system goes. However, its DRM policies are undeniably anti-consumer, and leave a number of consumers out in the cold. Competitors like the Playstation 4 and even the Wii U lack these restrictions with minimal compromises, and until Microsoft can demonstrate how these restrictions could possibly benefit anyone other than themselves and their business partners, it’s hard not be a little pessimistic about the console.