As I write this, it's the day after Microsoft announced they were changing their policies towards used games and online authentication on the Xbox One. We're all still reeling from what has been a very, shall we say "interesting" 30 days for Microsoft, the games industry press and Xbox fans alike. So what does this all mean?
Well, firstly it seems that the Xbox One will have a day one update to its firmware to enable these policies. This will be a mandatory update and is to be expected because, production and shipping lead times being what they are, many of the hardware units that will be on sale in November are already in their boxes in warehouses or on ships.
The issue here is that the firmware update will have to be included on every game disc that is sold, otherwise someone without an Internet connection will be stuffed. Their Xbox One will still need to connect every 24 hours, but won't be able to and won't be able to download the patch to prevent it from having to connect.
This isn't as strange as you may suspect. Imagine a family sending an Xbox One to a soldier on deployment for Christmas. That soldier most likely won't be able to play their games until they return so they can apply the firmware patch.
The other side of the update is that we will lose the family circle feature where you could nominate up to 10 other Xbox One owners to share your games library with. We will also lose the ability to log on to any Xbox One with our account and have access to our games library.
Both of these features required the online authentication check to make sure you weren't trying to play a game that you had sold on. No online check, not family circle or traveling games library.
That's a big shame since those features were the ones that made the Xbox One look tempting to me. It's possible that these features will return later for downloaded games, but I'm less sure about them coming back for disc based games.
The things that won't change are almost longer that the list of things that have. The price will remain the same, that's an extra £80 over the PS4, not to be sniffed at £80 should get you two games. Don't forget you'll have to pay for Xbox Live too, even if you only need it to use your Netflix application.
Related to the price is the fact that you will still have to pay for Kinect and have it attached at all times, even if you can turn it "off" at the console. If it's "off", why does it need to be connected? If it's "off" how can it listen for "Xbox On" to turn on the console?
Microsoft haven't updated their stance on indie game developers either, they will need to find a publisher. This stance has already had an impact on the number of indies working on Xbox One games.
Looming over all of this is the ever shifting emphasis Microsoft is placing on non-gaming entertainment. TV through your console, possible partnerships with Sky, more advertising on the dashboard. These aren't things gamers want, they may be nice, but Microsoft's slip towards owning the living room means less effort for games.
But, hey! At least you can swap discs with your mates, eh?
The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and does not reflect those of SPOnG.com except when it does.
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