So, Microsoft showed off its much-anticipated Xbox One today.
In terms of specifications, the device will be about as powerful as Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4. This means, as has been the case during the current generation of console gaming, Xbox and PlayStation games will continue to look very similar and it will remain relatively easy for developers to port from one platform to the next.
But there’s one major difference between the two systems: right now, it appears Microsoft will take a much more controversial stance when it comes to establishing an Internet connection and playing used games.
I’ve reported a few times on rumors suggesting the new Xbox would require gamers to a) be online at all times, and b) tether their individual game disc to their Xbox Live account, making the acquisition of used games impossible.
For the time being both of these issues remain a little hazy — Microsoft went over a lot of details really quickly at today’s big event. However, Wired’s Chris Kohler is reporting that Microsoft plans to allow developers the option of making some game features only available when an Internet connection is available. This means the “always online” requirement hasn’t been written in stone, but it’s entirely possible game companies will embrace this option. That could certainly mean gamers without reliable Internet connections will have trouble accessing key game features.
Even more controversial is Microsoft’s stance on used games. The firm has acknowledged that each game disc will be associated with a unique Xbox Live account, and if another person wants to use that game disc they’ll need to pay a fee.
We still don’t know what the fee will be. Personally, I’d speculate it could be roughly half the game’s full retail price. But who knows.
Is this a deal-breaker? That depends on Sony’s direction on these two issues. If the PlayStation 4 treats used games like its predecessor (in other words, nothing changes) and there’s no “always online” requirement, it’s hard to imagine gamers flocking to the Xbox One.
But, again, who knows.
We’ll have more on this story as details emerge.