Microsoft called Wired after this story was originally published to say that the company did have a plan for used games, and that further details were forthcoming.
"CALL OF DUTY LOADING"
"ONLINE MODE ENABLED, SEARCHING FOR PUBLIC SERVERS."
"SERVER 'BALLS IN YO MOUF' FOUND, CONNECTING NOW"
"WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAVE YOUR PROGRESS?"
I'm really really starting to get tired of My Butt.
Xbox One Live TV, unveiled at Microsoft's recent Xbox One reveal event, will enable you to 'navigate and watch live TV from your cable, telco or satellite set-top box through your Xbox One.'
All Xbox One units will ship with the Kinect sensor, which must be plugged in for the new console to operate, as it is "now an essential and integrated part of the platform."
In response to a question about whether that functionality means that Kinect is always on, Link said that Kinect is always listening, but in a limited capacity. It also helps ensure developers can count on the peripheral, he said. [...]
A spokesperson for Microsoft responded by saying that the privacy is a "top priority" for the company.
Perhaps most importantly, this isn't an optional accessory. It's mandatory. Not only does a Kinect ship with every console, but it must be plugged in and calibrated for the console to even function.
It's also because the Kinect will always be watching you. The new version of the camera is able to track up to six individual "skeletons" in the same room at all times. This has clear gameplay implications, such as allowing a game to instantly identify a person, but could also be related to a recently-patented Microsoft system for monitoring and maybe even charging users based on who is watching what.
Microsoft also demonstrated a few more tricks made possible by the new Kinect's enhanced sense of depth, its greater field of view - which does make closer gaming in smaller apartments a more feasible – its ability to see in the dark via infrared, and its flattering scrutiny of facial features. By examining your face's skin color and transparency, the Kinect and Xbox One are able to estimate your current heart rate. Whether or not someone puts that information to good use in Kinect games or fitness programs is another matter, as we've learned from Nintendo's flatlined "vitality sensor."
[W]hen the questions started coming in about used games, about forced connectivity, about word that you can't even lend games to a friend, Microsoft reps went to pieces. Twitter accounts contradicted executive statements. Answers that should have been given in full were only given in half. And when clear responses were given, well, the news still sucked.
Instead of calming people's fears, then, Microsoft served only to inflame them. Whoops.
It didn't help that many of the other key announcements fell flat. TV integration is...OK, I guess, if you're in America, but most people on this planet are not, and as of now, the US is the only place the feature is going to work.
Mandatory Kinect usage is also a little disturbing. The camera is listening out for you even when it's "off" (it's never really off), and while Microsoft has issued a statement saying it has "strong privacy protections" in place, people are still rightly concerned that a machine -connected to the internet and featuring a camera which is always listening - might be a problem.
The loss of backwards compatibility is also a stinger; we've had our Xbox 360s for a very long time now, and built up a substantial library of games to go with them. Losing the ability to play those games on a new system only lessens the desire to purchase that new system.
The result is that instead of collecting the accolades, and maybe even getting an early leg up on Sony's PlayStation 4, Microsoft is already on the back foot. It's come out early, and laid down core "features" of its console that are wildly unpopular with people who you may call vocal forum goers, but who are also the preorder customers, the early adopters and product evangelists.
Yeah, we're accustomed to using multiple social and entertainment applications simultaneously -- but it's funny Microsoft thinks we want to do this on a television screen. There's Skype, they say. Has anyone ever wanted to use Skype on their TV, instead of at their office workstation, on a tablet passed around a party, on a laptop nestled in bed? Do they want to? During a... video game, during a television program?
Let's say you did want to do all of this: you kind of need a huge TV. You need an Entertainment Altar where instant voice command is a cool-future status item, where everyone is wont to sit As A Family in the thrall of the Entertainment Altar. You need to live in a fantasy of the privileged that is diminishing amid an economic and technological disruption where it's hard to believe this kind of device is going to be broadly relevant.
It needs nothing less than broad relevance, after all. Microsoft likes to say phrases like "more [something] than ever before" -- what about more money than ever before required to make games for high-end technology? Is there any overlap between the sort of NFL-loving, status-chasing American home that would lavish upon a living room Entertainment Altar and the sort that would desire yet another hyper-real fantasy of war-play, ever more hyper-real, so that now you can see the fine hairs on a man's forearm and the capillaries of his eyes before you shoot him for points? In a multitasking culture, is this the way to make the TV broadly relevant?
I mean, if I wanted to be on the forefront of the video game industry, given the current shift in the way our demographics earn income and use devices, and given the current fatigue with arguments about what, exactly, our role in influencing entertainment culture and in pioneering the medium of creative play ought to be, I might want to tone it down on the whole "more fetishistically real weapons of war than ever" thing. But that's just me.
Matt Booty, who is Microsoft’s general manager of Redmond Game Studios and Platforms, [confirmed] that indie devs will still need publishers to get their games onto the newly revealed console. Booty does say that Microsoft will explore new business models, though.
This news comes in stark contrast to Sony’s promises that indies will be able to self-publish content on the PS4. The publisher model, of course, means that some other entity has to decide whether to take a risk on helping get a game on a console and that someone else gets a cut of profits.
Looking back on it now, the Xbox Live Indie Games space wound up becoming a neglected ghetto for creators trying to find an audience. The energy that that scene once held migrated to mobile and has blossomed PC, where platforms like Steam let creators chart their own way. One thing that’s enabled indie creations to find success has been the ability to set and change release windows and prices as they see fit. No need to charge more money to ensure multiple partners get a cut and no need to rush out a game that still needs polish because someone else says you have to. If you're an indie developer, chances are that Xbox One just became a lot less attractive to you.
Yesterday, when we all met Call of Duty Dog for the first time, the first thing we said was, "Aww, a dog!" The second thing we said was, "Too bad they are going to kill him."
Every comment, every video, every Call of Duty Dog joke made has been accompanied by the implicit assumption that, yes, this dog is totally going to get shot. Why else have a dog in a Call of Duty game? They tell us we're going to care about this dog, that he'll be part of the team. We'll forge an emotional attachment to him.
That is obviously code for "just before the final act, the main bad guy is going to fucking shoot him in slow motion while you look on, helpless to intervene."
Let's not forget that this is Call of Duty we're talking about. In these games, it's more surprising if a mission doesn't end with you getting betrayed and shot in the chest at close-range by a man you Thought Was Your Friend.
I can imagine the dogicidal cutscene so vividly, it's like it already exists. You round the corner, and a swarthy gentleman with a beard is standing there. The audio goes hushed and does that flipped low-mid-frequencies only thing, and everything goes into slow motion. He brings his gun up, and then swings it to the side. He fires. A single doggie yelp. Silence.
I swear to God, they had better not kill Call of Duty Dog.
When I was growing up, our painful animal deaths were limited to non-interactive forms of entertainment. We couldn't stop Bambi's mother from dying. We couldn't magically cure Old Yeller. Where the Red Fern Grows was not a choose your own adventure book — Old Dan's intestines were destined to become out-testines.
There is a unique opportunity in gaming, especially as the graphics and situations become more and more realistic, to really drive the trauma home. I cried for days after Old Yeller was put down for the first of several dozen times throughout my childhood. Imagine how long I'd cry if I had to pick up a virtual rifle and do it in first person, or if it were a cuddly kitten and not some big, slobbering hound?
I can see the gameplay segment so clearly. You're trapped behind cover, Call of Duty Dog at your side. Gunfire pours in from all sides. Desperate, you reach to your belt pulling the pin on a grenade and lobbing it in a slow, graceful arc towards the enemy. It rolls to a stop inches from their feet, and here comes Call of Duty Dog, tail a-waggin', scooping up the metal ball in his fluffy jaws. "Bad dog!" you shout, but he's already bounding back. You raise your pistol...
I swear to God, they had better kill Call of Duty Dog.
After a month of vague corporate comments from Microsoft executives, we now know the Xbox One's game licensing policy was written from the ground up for companies. It's aggressively anti-consumer and anti-middle class, and it outright ignores underprivileged gamers. It's gross, despicable, greedy, pathetic, cowardly and out of touch with a growing global resentment for corporations.
- must connect to the Internet every day or it stops working
- game discs can't be shared except under absurd conditions
- secondhand discs allowed only at approved retailers, may require additional fee
- region locked
- a whole pile of TV crap that will never be available in my country
- mandatory always-on surveillance device operated by company known to be cooperating with the NSA
- cute nickname ("Xbone")
- familiar rectangular form
- none of the above
- apparently somewhat more powerful
- box has exciting slanted edges
By now, most people ought to have dismissed the old stereotype that the male is the calm, rational opposite of the hysterical female. If anything, it's the other way round, which is why the short promo video shown right at the end of Sony's E3 press conference was kind of refreshing.
[T]he clip shows an emotional guy, Will Walker, repeatedly failing at the Knack monster masher on PS4, to the point where he's about to give up and condemn himself as a worthless good-for-nothing who should have never been born in the first place. Until, to his immense relief, he spots that his PSN buddy Sarah Greene has uploaded a gameplay video showing how she mashes up the monster (using height rather than just a plain frontal attack, duh).
Will Walker double-taps his PS button to instantly return to the game, where he replicates Sarah's goblin-murderin' moves to great success. He immediately regains his confidence, mood-swinging back to the primeval belief that he do anything and beat anyone -- even the Killzone: Shadow Fall baddies who happen to be waging war on his old pal Brian Ramos at that very moment.
Brian calls for help over the bundled single ear mono headset, and Will starts a download of the game's multi-player mode before double-tapping to return to Knack. When he gets a system notification that the download is done, Will joins Killzone with Brian, but quickly gets stuck because, once again, he's a nobody, a complete nothingness, and life always gets in his way. Until Brian solves it by using the Share button on his controller to show Will how to make proper use of his rifle's telescopic sight.
That's gaming; that's sharing; that's humanity
Well, don’t take that entirely literally. I’m just writing that to get your attention and/or I can’t think of a more accurate way to do it within the character limit. Obviously you can’t build your own Xbox One or PlayStation 4 – they use some custom hardware not available to PC-builders to do their next-generation thing, they’re running bespoke operating systems (and all the horror-DRM that goes with it) and contain it all with in a comparatively small black monolith that sits underneath your TV. Additionally, console games can be made to specific hardware requirements, which can entail a far great degree of optimisation than trying to target a hundred thousand million different PC configs. No matter what the console generation, the PC comparison can never be an exact one. What you can do, though, is build yourself a PC that has a little more grunt under the hood than these apparent future-machines, for pretty much the same amount of money.
To be honest, while hitting the £420 price of an Xbone is eminently possible, I’d recommend you spend just a little more on a games PC than that – it’ll last you longer, there’s more scope for upgrading later, games will look fancier and you won’t have to spend a week trawling price comparison sites. Either way, the idea that a beefy games PC costs thousands of dollars/pounds is an outdated and wildly inaccurate one.
We’re going to struggle to match the PS4′s relatively sensible £350, I think, but the Xbox One’s ludicrous £420 is another matter
According to the GB report, the following will occurr:
- No more always online requirement
- The console no longer has to check in every 24 hours
- All game discs will work on Xbox One as they do on Xbox 360
- An Internet connection is only required when initially setting up the console
- All downloaded games will function the same when online or offline
- No additional restrictions on trading games or loaning discs
- Region locks have been dropped
- All game discs will work on Xbox One as they do on Xbox 360
"If you want privacy, we'll give you modes that ensure your privacy," Jeff Henshaw, a Microsoft grand poobah, said this week.
"'If" you want privacy? Modes?"
Such passive language has long been the moist, shadowy ground where the cobra waits for the mouse.
"It's not the case where you'll be able to remove the camera altogether," Henshaw admitted. "But you'll be able to put the system in modes where you can be completely secure about the fact that the camera is off and can't see you."
Isn't that the kind of thing that techies always say? And then they laugh. Mirthlessly.
This is the part of the movie where the scientist shows you the cute little dinosaur babies.
"This adorable miniature Velociraptor will never grow and never attack its human masters. You can be completely secure," says the kind scientist.
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