Sony's next-generation PS4 unveil is just two weeks away, which means leaks concerning both it and Microsoft's next-generation Xbox Durango (sometimes referred to as the Xbox 720), are at an all-time high as well. Unfortunately, not all the news is good. Rumors continue to swirl that the next iteration of Xbox will lock out used games entirely and require a constant Internet connection.
The used games angle is something we've covered before. New games would come with a one-time activation code to play. Use the code, and the game is locked to the particular console or Xbox Live account it's loaded on. Physical games will still be sold (the Durango reportedly supports 50GB Blu-ray Discs), but the used game market? Kiboshed.
If this is true, it's an ugly move on Microsoft's part. Not only does it annihilate the right of first sale, it'll eviscerate any game store or business that depends on video game rentals for revenue. Sure, that means Gamestop
takes a hit -- and that company isn't exactly popular -- but there's no indication that any other
service that provides video game rentals would survive, either.
Then there's the always-on component. If the Xbox Durango
was a $149 set top box with a hard drive and a cloud gaming connection, the tradeoff might be worth it. The idea of a $399 - $499 piece of hardware that's effectively useless without an Internet connection is intolerable. Internet connections fail. Sometimes they're up and running, but saturated with content being delivered to other locations in the house.
Xbox Live is a major component of Microsoft's services and a huge revenue engine for the company, but it's not something every gamer is going to want to use every single time they play.
If these rumors are accurate, they're only going to hurt the console, even if Sony is on board with similar methods of its own. Forcing gamers to buy every product at full retail isn't going to help game revenue. There are games I'd pay full price for the day they come out. There are other games I don't buy until they hit $29, $19, or $5 on Steam. If all new titles are locked to new pricing (or decrease only at an extremely slow pace), I'm not going to buy more $60 titles -- I'll just play fewer games.
I'm not paying $399 for a console that turns into a paperweight if Time-Warner is having a bad day. Locking out used game sales and requiring an Internet connection are not features anyone that actually buys
these products is requesting.