At an event earlier today, Microsoft unveiled the next Xbox – the third model, but confusingly named Xbox One. The big focus was TV, integrated Kinect, and all the other stuff we all expected to be forced down our throats. I think it took them 25 minutes to actually come to what should be the core of the story: gaming. Nothing groundbreaking in the gaming department, except for how Microsoft intends to handle the used games market and borrowing games from friends: pay up, buddy!
For me, the biggest news about the Xbox One is not how it’s more powerful (of course it is), not that it will focus on TV (which will most likely only be useful to Americans anyway), not that it will force yet another ugly peripheral down our throats that I can’t place anywhere (we knew it would come with Kinect) – no, the biggest news is how Microsoft is making one of the most fundamental aspects of gaming impossible – or at least, very, very cumbersome.
Ever since I got my first console – an NES – I’ve done something all of us have. You find a friend who has the same console as you, and who has different games than you, and you start loaning each other your games. This practice is as old as the console market itself, and allows you to play games you otherwise wouldn’t buy – and thus, expand your horizons.
The best example I know of how important this is was Japanese RPGs. I generally dislike them, and don’t enjoy them at all, meaning I would never spend any money on them. However, one of my friends is a huge fan, and through him, I got to play Tales Of Vesperia – now firmly one of my best games I’ve ever played.
Microsoft is planning to make this age-old practice impossible or at the very least incredibly annoying and costly. The Xbox One will still have traditional game discs, but installation to the hard drive has become mandatory. Once you install a disc to the hard drive (which is, as I said, mandatory), you can play the game without the disc, but said game is now tied to your Xbox Live account. If you want to loan this game to a friend, he will not be able to play it unless he pays a fee (as of yet undefined by Microsoft).
Of course, this ridiculous system will also mean a huge, huge blow to the used games market – another venue through which many gamers widen their horizons on the gaming market. Microsoft has told Wired it will have a solution in place for used games retailers, but they are refusing to unveil just what this is. It’s my guess it will be some sort of official program used games retailers can become a member of so that Microsoft gets some sort of control over the market.
Because of all this, I’m not even interested in any of the other stuff Microsoft has announced regarding the Xbox One. I’m not going to pay for loaned games from friends – Microsoft can go screw itself.