By: Tatiana G. King
Are the rumors true?
There have been several reports zipping around in the Blogosphere and in national (and foreign!) news outlets that the new ‘Xbox 720’ will have a very shady restriction. “What restriction” you ask? Micro$oft is placing it in the “rumor and speculation” category but I’m hearing shenanigans. According to Edge online magazine, “It is believed that games purchased on disc will ship with activation codes…”. Come again?
The Xbox 720 is purported to utilize an ‘always-on’ Internet connect, along with Blu-Ray formatted games. These activation codes on will then be validated online based on the system it’s playing on; consequently offering no playability beyond the initial user. What you have now is a two-fold problem:
1.) No playability beyond the original owner means a complete shut down and lock-out of the second-hand market for video games. If the aspect of activation codes comes to fruition, it is the declaration of open war on retailers like Gamestop and subscription-based video game services like GameFly. If this restriction comes to pass M$ is effectively destroying the entire business model of this market. This also takes away the right to sell old games taking up space by previous owners. It’s one thing if activation codes are meant to curb piracy. It’s another when it curbs just about everything else. Is the second-hand market the enemy? Is this the dreaded scorched earth policy that gamers have dreaded for a past two years?
2.) Presumably, an activation and validation on only one console means you can’t bring your game to a friend’s house and play it. This may sound extreme, but we have to look at all potential avenues here. If this game control system is indeed as hardcore as many reports are making it out to be, even the most simple, non-profit related actions would be restricted.
Personally, the idea of “single-owner playability” gives me great pause. Why make things harder, rather than easier? Why is there any (rumored) focus on restrictions, rather than one of the important things people really want to know—backwards compatibility? Well considering the new Xbox is 99% going to be Blu-Ray based; how’s that gonna work?
Does all of this, in effect, mean that although physical game media will still be sold, Microsoft will start steering people towards purchasing games primarily through places like Xbox Live? Will games downloaded directly from XBL still carry the same restriction? Will it even matter considering one can download their own XBL account on someone else’s console? There’s even talk that Sony is looking to implement the same type of second-hand blocking system for the PS4. Is everyone out of their minds?
What I need to know. If this is really, actually, happening—what are the provisions being made for users—will there be cheaper games?
UPDATE: According to the source SuperDaE every Xbox 720 will ship with the new Kinect peripheral and it will be required in order for the system to function. In addition there is talk that the new Xbox will support multitasking, allowing the suspension of one game in order to play another.
We’ll keep up with the rumors or leaks and update as necessary.