Why the Xbox One might be the Superior Console – Just Maybe

The Xbox One has gotten a lot of flack from consumers lately – and rightly so.  They’re implementing DRM for all of their games, they’re severely limiting trading/selling/buying used games, you’ll need to connect to the internet at least once every 24 hours, the Kinect will constantly be watching and listening to you (although they say you can shut it down), they’ve said nothing about indie game support other than they’re going to do it, etc., etc.  All in all, the Xbox One has been pretty much shit on, thrown around, and made into a huge joke (even Sony got in on it by making a joke video about how to share games).  However, some gamers have been losing focus. What we perceive in our minds as a bad thing might actually be a good thing (that whole selective biases thing kind of gets in the way).  As such I’m going to lay out for you why all of these things are not so bad for consumers (of which some of the reasons can be found via Ben Kuchera’s article on the Penny-Arcade Report).

So here it goes – why _________ isn’t such a bad thing after all.

1. Connecting to the Internet at least every 24 hours

This one was hard to justify for a while, however at a closed door meeting an Xbox Rep recently revealed one of the reasons for the “always” (because really it might as well be an always online console, semantics be damned) online console. Apparently Xbox is going to have servers stationed around the world that are accessible to gamers when they are online. This is going to be a resource for game developers as these servers are capable of constantly doing calculations, which means that worlds can “live and breath”. While your Xbox might be turned off the server is running 24/7 and ther server can continue to change the environment around you. This also means that the server can take the brunt of the calculations while playing a game (assuming your online) and then just send the information for your Xbox One to just render. This means that all those silly calculations and mechanics that can bog down a game are no longer the worry as your Xbox is pretty much just one gigantic fucking video card. This makes it possible to have even better graphics than ever before, highly complex scenarios without bogging down your system, and generally just increase the capability of the Xbox.
Developers will have to utilize it of course. Also, if the servers go down you could end up fucked… All in all, the always on is a feature which is meant to increase your Xbox’s capbility and enrich the experience of you – the gamer.

2. The Always on Kinect

I’m going to be honest, there isn’t much to say about the always on Kinect. It’s nice to know that I can turn the Kinect off while I’m playing (assuming the game doesn’t require the Kinect). However, can I fix my settings so that it doesn’t auto-start? If it’s always listening and I’m under the sheets with someone what’s the likelihood of my Xbox thinking I’m telling it (or the other person is telling it) to turn on? There’s too much unknown still, in my opinion, of the new Kinect and it’s still not justified.

3. Limiting the buying of used games and trading games

This is the nitty gritty optimism (or pessimism I guess if you’re a Sony fanboy).
The limiting of buying and selling used games, as well as trading games, is something that has been around since time immemorial. Friends would hand those little plastic cartridges to each other, trading games to play, and then run home to play whatever “new” game they had just gotten. But Microsoft has now said “No.” But why?

Microsoft has greatly increased their relationship with big developers by taking this move. What Microsoft is essentially saying with this move is – we believe in developers and we believe that they are worth a lot. Pirating of games, buying used games, trading games, etc. all take away profits and sales from the game developers. By taking this move Microsoft is making a commitment to developers to help them get the money that they deserve.

But why should gamers like this move? Well, it can lead to a much better market on big name video games. By making this move Microsoft is driving up profits of the studios that produce for them. By driving up profit margins studios are able to spend more money on developing new games. Or, studios can drive down the price of their video games (assuming Microsoft doesn’t artificially keep Xbox games at $60). It leads to cheaper video games and should enable game studios to be more stable than they were in the past.

4. Utilizing DRM

DRM does the same thing as limiting the buying and selling of used games and limiting trading games. It’s another commitment to ensuring that people are paying for the products that they are using. I know of numerous people who have DLC and downloaded games that they never paid for but got through friends who did pay for them. While it’s great and sharing is caring, it still hurts game developers pocket books.

DRM can mean cheaper games, greater investment into each game, and greater diversity in games by enabling studios to invest money into a greater number of projects.

What do you think? While it might be bad directly for customers, do you think these policies could create a better atmosphere for developers and, through association, for gamers themselves? Am I blowing smoke out my ass (if you think so that’s a legit point, but you better back it up with some hardcore FACTS). Let me know in the comments.

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