Thursday, January 26, 2012

Console Post Of The Week: Xbox 720

This will be interesting.

On Kotaku yesterday, Stephen Totilo wrote an article about the successor to the 360 (which everyone is calling the "720" for the sake of convenience). Take a look at this excerpt:
Microsoft will upgrade its disc technology for its next Xbox from DVDs to Blu-Ray discs, catching up to rival Sony, games industry sources tell Kotaku.

...But that disc detail could be far less impactful to the next generation of game consoles than the assertion I've heard from one reliable industry source that Microsoft intends to incorporate some sort of anti-used game system as part of their so-called Xbox 720.

It's not clear if that means that the system wouldn't play used games or how such a set-up would work. Obvious approaches—I'm theorizing here—like linking a copy of a game to a specific Xbox Live account could seemingly be foiled by used-game owners who would keep their system offline. My source wasn't sure how Microsoft intended to implement any anti-used game system in the new machine.

First off, the obvious question: is this technically feasible? One of my most trusted sources e-mailed me yesterday and had this to say:
Some publishers are already relying on authorization apps and single-use serial codes that link the game to your Gamertag, Xbox MAC address, and network IP address for protection of their beta builds. If this technology was to ever migrate to retail builds under its current form, it would make it virtually impossible to even lend the game to someone let alone buy it used.

So yes, it is technically feasible. And it's possible to make this as restrictive as a publisher wants.

I've long considered "leaks" as generally falling into the "trial balloon" category. It's highly unlikely that Microsoft is freaking out about this "leak", because in some way, they likely caused it. Get the information out there and see how people react.

I don't react well.

Sure, if Microsoft made used games unplayable, but cut the price of games on the 720 by half, I would be borderline okay with it. Not in a philosophical sense--it would still be bullshit--but in a bottom-line sense, we'd be getting a game discount that was reasonably substantial in return.

Does anyone think that's what we'd get, though?

We'd get, at most, a $10 price drop on $60 games, with no chance of reselling a game once we finished it. Net result=screwed.

I'm actually a reasonably decent test case here, because I'm willing to buy almost any new hardware comes out. If even two or three games on a platform wind up being epic, I feel like I've gotten my money's worth. Remember, I'm the guy bought an Amiga 500 just to play TV Sports Football (not knowing how much other great software was available for the Amiga, although I soon found out). The system plus the monitor set me back almost $900--for one game--twenty-five years ago.

Would I buy a console if I bought a game disc and couldn't use it on another console beside my own? No.

If you've been following along carefully, then you notice that I was potentially "borderline okay" with this five paragraphs ago, and now I'm drawing a line in the sand.

Time apparently changed me. All 90 seconds of it.

Like everything else in the last 2-3 years, this comes down to value, or rather, how value to the consumer is steadily decreasing. Again and again in the last few years, value has been diminished. When is the last time a publisher gave us more instead of less?

Let me just say this: a console without a used game market will fail. I do not believe that the consumer market will support a product with $50-60 games and no possibility of resale. If Microsoft tries this, they are in for a rude, rude awakening.

Boat, meet anchor.

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