To hear others talk, the very fact that Microsoft might be still on track to release a console that users might appreciate is baffling. The company hasn’t done itself any favors either. Between offering users the ability to do more than just gaming, and requiring that all games silently ping their database every day, even some Xbox devotees are singing the PlayStation 4 tune. That would make you think that the Xbox One isn’t worth a second look. Here’s the thing, it is.
Let’s just consider why Microsoft is including mandatory internet check-ins for games. For all intents and purposes Microsoft is pushing the concept of digital games further than Sony ever has. Not only will game releases be available digitally the day they arrive, the company will alter the way games interact with the console itself.
On the Xbox One, games are natively installed on the system itself. Even if the user went out to purchase the game on a disc, the console would then install the game on its hard drive. That could mean faster loading speeds and it certainly eliminates the problem of buying a game only to lend it to someone else and get back a title this unplayable because of scratches.
On the subject of sharing, Microsoft has also taken the bold step of allowing users to gift their games to friends. They must be a friend to the user for at least 30 days and they can only be given once. Still, that’s a digital game changer. Yes, users can share an actual title with other PlayStation users by handing them a disc, but Microsoft’s digital system makes this as easy a few button presses instead of a trek across the city. Sony isn’t saying whether users on it service will get to gift digitally purchased titles on any level, with or without DRM, though we’d imagine if they were, the console’s announcement would have been a great time to share that information.
That makes Microsoft’s digital first approach to gaming worth investing in. It turns games into what they should be: bits stored on a hard drive that don’t fill your shelf with pieces of unnecessary plastic.
That’s not all either. Being able to share those titles with other family members without having to physically use the same disc is historic. There’s no driving to their house and delivering the game, they’ll already see it on it available on their console and vice-versa. Using the system, users could very quickly work with their family members to build a huge library of shared games. A library that would be a pain to build and manage otherwise. Again, that makes the Xbox One worth buying.
At the end of the day, many users will be turned off by the very idea that a console will not allow them to play their favorite games without being connected to the internet at least once every twenty-four hours. However, for literally millions of users this is a non-issue for the majority of their time spent gaming. No they won’t be able to play their games if they lose internet access for longer than a day. That’s an inconvenience. However how often does that happen? Certainly less than what most nay-sayers are presuming.
Let’s also not forget that the console will only check-in every day, not constantly. Users will have a full day of playing time before they need to worry about the console denying them access to their games. If it comes down to it, most smartphone plans include use as a hotspot, which would allow the Xbox 360 to connect to check in even if a home Internet connection went down.
Really, this breaks down to the same balancing act that users have always had to deal with when purchasing digital goods, whether that be music and television shows from the Apple’s iTunes Store: is the slight predictable inconvenience of DRM worth the benefits. For potential Xbox One users, many would argue it’s worth it.