Changing My Thoughts on an ‘Always Connected’ Xbox One

(Update: As of 6/19/2013, Microsoft has reversed its Xbox One DRM and 24 hour check in policies. Some of the content of this article may no longer be relevant to the Xbox One specifically; however, some of the new features touted in this article are also removed.)

Before I begin, I recognize I was originally against an ‘always online’ or ‘always connected’ Xbox One in the next generation. I also recognize that it was partially based on fear, some hubris, and not fully understanding what good can come from it. I touted there was more risk than reward. The recent events at E3 and scouring the Internet for information has led me to believe that an ‘always connected’ console is not going to be such a bad thing. I also reserve the right to change my mind.

Xbox One

Why I’ve Changed My Stance

It’s hard to swallow when you feel you may have been mistaken, and I’ve been battled this myself. So I will address my previous fears.

It’s a Digital World, and I’m a Digital Girl…or Boy

The video game industry is going primarily digital. Many broadband providers are starting to increase monthly restrictions. In 2012, GameStop continued to see a drop in revenue in the physical used game market and outstanding increases in digital revenue growth. Publishers and developers stand to make more money in digital without producing nearly the same number of material goods and shipping them worldwide.

DRM Digital Distributors - Steam, Green Man Gaming, and Xbox One

Platforms and digital distribution like Steam and Green Man Gaming are continuously growing and offering deep discounts on all digital products, and distributors like Amazon.com are touting a decline in physical units sold. Whether or not gamers like to admit it, we’ve in some way already bought into the digital distribution model and most DRM practices that come with it. Let’s not forget Steam was once said to be an unmitigated disaster, and now it’s one of the largest digital distribution models in the world.

Broadband Internet Access

Getting readily available broadband is a problem in some areas to make use of an ‘always connected’ Xbox One, but the truth is the United States is seeing rapid growth in broadband access. I’m relying on the fact that Microsoft has done their research on how big the potential demographic when considering broadband Internet access in all launch countries.

Taking advantage of the cloud is happening in smaller quantities on both PC and consoles, and it’s a logical step to harness more of the power the cloud can provide us. If we’re already using broadband to play on Xbox Live and use the cloud today, we shouldn’t be as nervous as we are before.

In addition, most of those that do play multiplayer play online. A console designed around a connected community of gamers doesn’t seem like a bad thing.

DRM and 24 Hour Online Check-in

Most of us are law-abiding citizens and generally follow the rules. I’m sure most of us are a little worried about privacy from an ‘always connected’ device or the need to really check our licenses for games, but if you’re honestly purchasing games and following policies on digital distribution models you don’t have anything to worry about nor will you be treated like a criminal.

The 24 hour check-in is one of the more jarring new features of the new Xbox One console, but I see possible benefits in this model. First, not only are licenses being checked, but there is opportunity for updates to the games I play being downloaded while I’m away at work. When I’m ready to play, the games are ready to play. While most updates are typically smaller in size (MB), there are some games that require much larger updates (GB). This technology opens the door for automatic DLC updates for season pass holders.

Content

This might be the tougher sell, but I really am looking forward to the potential content coming from developers and publishers in an ‘always connected’ or cloud model. It is said that Xbox One is siding with publishers and not consumers, but if we get more dynamic content and gameplay in the end that is a real decent trade off for us. There will be changes, and it might take getting used to. It might take developers and publishers to hit their strides, but I really do look forward to the possibilities.

In the end, video game content is what is going to marry me to any console, Sony Playstation 4 or Xbox One.

Looking Forward

I’m still not 100% certain what console gaming will look like and who will win the console war. You can guarantee that Playstation 4 will continue to work more toward the cloud. The more Playstation 4 relies on the cloud the more it relies on many of the same technology as Xbox One. The next generation is going to be a time of change, and I am thinking the future for gamers is pretty bright. This is an exciting time to be in.

Debate: With more information, how have your thoughts changed or stayed the same for an ‘always connected’ console like Xbox One?

About this Hero

is Co-Founder and Editor in Chief for Co-op Heroes. He owned his first console when he was 4 years old. Since his first introduction with video games, Brandon believed in sharing all of his gaming experiences with his friends and family.

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  • Mr XBob

    Don’t forget it’s not actually “always connected” – you can be offline for an entire day without needing to connect. It’s just a simple 5-second check that needs the internet.

  • GrubberGamer

    Having learned more about the Xbox One and its DRM policies, I have absolutely no plans to buy a Xbox One.

    It is very clear Microsoft is providing a services oriented platform, with all the necessary trappings that are part of any service business model. This is obviously their prerogative.

    But by selling tangible goods, Microsoft is attempting to imply ownership where none exists. They’re attempting to (arguably covertly) promote a services oriented business model as a goods sold model.

    All of their (highly restrictive) DRM policies – allowing the giving of games, trading in games, etc – are designed to maintain this illusion. They want to imply you actually own the game you’ve paid for.

    Reason being, ownership implies value, and value allows for high MSRPs.

    This is why we’ll pay $8.99 to stream hundreds of movies from Netflix, but we’ll pay upwards of $30 per movie on Blu-Ray disc. Ownership value is associated with the Blu-Ray purchase, but none exists with Netflix.

    Microsoft is attempting to sell you the Blu-Ray but NOT allow you to own it after the fact. To have their cake and eat it, too.

    So no, my thoughts regarding the Xbox One haven’t changed. I fully understand digital is the future, and also understand many, many games will make use of online functionality with the next generation of game consoles. But I don’t believe the future of gaming should in any way supersede consumer rights.

    • Eagles83

      You are an idiot and your analogy is all wrong. Steam is digitally driven in the same way and you “own” the license to all of the games that you buy. It is exactly the same with ANY other software that you buy online such as antivirus. Digital and discs are just content delivery mechanisms. It is just how the bits enter your system/device. People such as yourself spreading this false information is part of the problem. Netflix is a service that grants you access to its content library and not an individual title. The Vudu service would have been an appropriate analogy but it doesn’t fit in with the false information that you are selling. Please try and understand what you are talking about or just stop talking. You are like Fox News with your fear based agenda spreading lies under the guise of defending consumer rights.

      • atch21

        Please refrain from name calling. Future offenses will result in deletion of comments and/or ban. It is possible to disagree with someone without attacking them personally.

      • Eagles83

        You are correct. I shouldn’t have resorted to calling anyone names. I’m just getting fed up with all of the comments from people who don’t know what they are talking about and acting like they are some kind of authority on the subject.

  • Copperskull

    As a Steam gamer, I find Microsoft’s DRM policies to be extremely lenient. A friend can’t get on my computer, log in to their own Steam account, and play the games I have loaded on my hard drive without paying for them first. I can’t allow other people to play my games on their computers as long as I’m not currently playing them.

    Digital distribution offers too many advantages to the typical core gamer. I would be shocked if both Microsoft and Sony aren’t offering preloads of pre-ordered games by this time next year. When given the option of downloading a game ahead of time, then just pressing start at midnight when the game activates, how many gamers are still going to stand in line until release, then bring the game home, install, and finally get into it 1-2 hours later? And those buying digitally distributed copies will face the same ownership issues regardless of what console they are using. In this case, the Xbox One seems to be the more consumer-friendly console.

    Another advantage is re-downloading. How many back-up copies of your physical games are you allowed to have? Since consoles don’t play copied discs without modding them, and therefore breaking their use policies, that would be none. If a disc becomes scratched or otherwise damaged to the point it no longer plays, you no longer have that game. However, if a digital copy of a game is lost due to a hard drive crash or vindictive little brother, the game can be redownloaded because of its tie to the account.

    Let’s also not forget that Sony isn’t preventing other publishers from using their choice of DRM. If a company is in favor of Microsoft’s DRM policies, they may still impose very similar restrictions on their Playstation 4 games.

    • GrubberGamer

      “Digital distribution offers too many advantages to the typical core gamer.”

      Digital offers many advantages, which is why I’m sure digital distribution is the future for video gaming.

      But I don’t believe any of these advantages, even in aggregate, are more important than the one overwhelming disadvantage – DRM does not allow ownership of the software (or software license) you’ve purchased.

      None of the advantages you’ve mentioned will mean anything when Microsoft’s Xbox One servers are no longer online, and the games you “own” are no longer available for you to download when necessary. Or when you cannot play your game because the DRM authentication servers are non-existent.

      I am one of those gamers who will stand in line, bring the game home, install, and play it 1-2 hours later IF my purchase entitles me to ownership of the game media. I’m willing to do this because my rights as a gamer and consumer are more important to me than convenience or lethargy.

      But sadly, with Xbox One, even the right of ownership is no longer mine to make.

      I’m not saying a gamer shouldn’t have the option to chose convenience over true ownership – you have every right to make that decision. But the issue with Microsoft’s Xbox One – for myself and the vast majority of gamers – is that the ability to make this decision has been taken from us.

      Not with a carrot, not with a stick, but with a sledgehammer.

      • Eagles83

        Again you are being dishonest. They had already announced that even after this new generation had ended that you would have been able to play your games. This came from Major Nelson. You should seriously learn about what you are talking about prior to posting. I’m a huge Steam fan and the original poster is 100 percent accurate. The benefits are numerous and it is backwards people such as yourself that resist change for no other reason than that you are afraid of it.

      • Hazelra

        One thought. Can’t sell games back. Nuff’ said. Sure you can trade them to a friend. For FULL retail value. Cause that’s gonna happen. XBOX ONE is a derp-mobile. They really should just leave the option open both ways, but alas, Microsoft too is a derp-mobile as of late. Whaddaya gonna do though.

  • http://dorwrath.tumblr.com/ Jalil Purtow

    Great read. Makes a change from the miss informed articles that appear of late.

  • Canvalted

    I have no fear, I am not scared. I am simply not interested in a future that has a console that is controlled so strictly by the manufacturer.

    I would not and still will not support any “always online device” (I am not talking about cell phone because cell service, wifi and 3g are all optional and can be turned on or off) not becuase I fear them, simply becuase I hacve zero intrest in the idea.

    • Eagles83

      How do you make an exception for your cell phone by saying you can turn off the signal? If you do that you will just have a paper weight? I assume you mean that you can buy a game online on your phone and then disable the signal and still use it. I understand this and it was the only part of the original plan that I didn’t like but the benefits outweighed this one negative in my opinion.

  • Gibsord

    As a 15 year old who frequently travels back and forth between my mothers and grandmothers house (who doens’t have internet) I am glad to see that Microsoft is longer requring 24 hour check in.

    This means I can still bring my xbox and play skyrim and batman!