A leaked document appears to reveal that Microsoft’s next Xbox, tentatively known as the Xbox 720, will require gamers to install every game they own. The document also indicates gamers will need to be online at all times.
Although it’s popularly known as the Xbox 720, the next-generation Xbox is actually code-named Durango. Recently, documentation related to the Durango Xbox Development Kit (XDK) was leaked to the press — and it includes some information that will be very controversial.
First, the less touchy stuff: The next Xbox will have a hard drive, though it hasn’t been determined how large that drive will be. “It will be large enough, however, to hold a large number of games,” the document reads.
The document also reveals the next Xbox will play DVDs and Blu-rays, meaning it won’t be limited to digital downloads.
However, it seems such physical media will only be required to install games. The second time a gamer goes to play a new title, they may not have to use a disc.
“All games will be installed on the hard drive,” the document says. “Play from the optical disc will not be supported.”
On one hand, that will be convenient. There’s something very old-timey about having to get off the couch to swap out discs every time we want to play a different game.
However, this system could also be designed to limit or completely eliminate the use of second-hand games. The document notes the next Xbox could require users to authenticate their game each time they play, meaning the system will need to be connected to the Internet at all times.
On the plus side, having the console constantly connected could drastically reduce boot times and virtually eliminate long system updates. For game developers, it will seriously limit the piracy threat.
However, for most gamers the drawbacks will be far more prevalent. The absence of a used games market gives retailers enormous power to maintain high prices on games, making gaming a more expensive pastime.
As for the Internet connection requirement, that’s going to be a huge pain for people with slow or unstable links to the web. It also places pressure on Microsoft to ensure its end of the connection is stable round-the-clock.
If the leaked XDK is accurate, Microsoft could have a tough time luring gamers away from the PlayStation 4. Sony has announced the next PlayStation will support used games. It’s not yet clear if the Sony console will requirement a constant connection, however.