Each generation of consoles has pushed bigger and better graphics. It seems to be the core of a generation leap is when PC visuals step away from consoles too much, we all get new hardware. That is no different this time. PS4 and Xbox One are pushing visuals to new heights and are providing great new hardware to developers. This time though, a lot of features are being required from the get go because we are so used them being around currently. Streaming movies, apps, etc are already common features, so each developer went in a different route of enhancing the “community” aspects of gaming, while keeping the functions of these apps availible and more in-depth.
This time though, it seems to all be coming with consequences. Microsoft was first out of the gate to say “hey, we are putting some restrictions on used games.” Sony has been touchy on the subject to say the least, but officially hasn’t confirmed or denied what boat they are on. (Update: Sony confirms no restrictions) The chances are they will be somewhat forced to jump in somehow though. If developers are restricting used games on one console, there is no way they will allow it on another. So Sony may perhaps do something down the road. After all, you have to remember who wanted this to begin with, publishers wanting money.
So with the added visuals and community features, we basically have to give up our rights with used games. Microsoft says “hey, you can still go get ripped off at GameStop, don’t worry about it,” but if you want to sell the game yourself, tough luck. You can share your game with select friends and family, but it isn’t as easy as simply bringing a disc over to your friends for the weekend. Now they have to be checked out and cross checked etc… Basically a bunch of loops to jump through, since you now only purchase a license and not a disc with content on it.
With the community features come solutions to issues none of us really have. We can now all stock our friends more in depth on both consoles. We can even snoop on what they may be watching on TV to some extent, but even this has its consequence. With the Xbox One you have to connect to the internet at least once during a 24 hour period. Going on a trip? Too bad. ISP is having maintenance at just the right moment? Sucks for you. Parents don’t want you playing online and don’t understand the concept that you HAVE to? Better start crying.
This concept isn’t really comfortable to think about. Microsoft is pushing forth an idea that they feel is the future, but is it a bit too soon? Already gamers are creating petitions and Twitter movements to try and stop some of these ideas. They are really pushing Sony to back off from both concepts, and so far it has worked.
However Sony didn’t run away entirely clean from it all. While everyone was so excited that used titles work on the PS4, they noted that PS Plus is now a requirment to play online. They did say “well its up to the specific game,” but what publisher is going to skip it? None, at least not for a while. So the one thing PlayStation fans have held over Xbox fans heads for almost a decade is now changing. PlayStation fans now need to pay to play, and this will be a big change.
Two key areas of next generation are going to make this a somewhat interesting transition. The used game market is strong for a reason, but it’s going to have a lot of restrictions and issues early on. People are going to be mad, and possibly not quite understand the extent of it for a while. Normally when a new generation comes around, we get nothing but benefits and new features. Sure we may lose backwards compatibility, but old games are replaced with new games. This time we are losing even more, and none of it is being replaced with alternatives. We get some nifty new features to play with, but the question remains, are the new features worth losing these rights? Are you willing to have new high end visuals and cool community features for the cost of losing a portion of the used game market? Are you willing to risk constantly having your internet connected? Do you want to pay for a service after bragging about it being free?
Personally even I am a bit afraid of all of this. Not so much as it affects me as an every day gamer, but the nuisances it’s going to cause to me and others. There are going to be times when I’m in a cabin, in a hotel, or some place and can’t have the option to play my games at all. There are going to be times when someone is willing to give me 20 bucks for an old game, when GameStop only wants to give me 5 dollars. Which brings up an interesting concept, since Microsoft pretty much killed a ton of the competition for GameStop, how will their trade in prices reflect it? I already hate taking in old games there to try and get a new game, but sometimes it’s the only way to afford the new title I want. Lets also not forget the times we get sucked into a hype train for a new title, only for that title to completely suck. Also facing facts, I’m a PlayStation gamer at heart. I’ve written for PlayStation sites before and I’ve just simply became a fan. However paying to play online is something I’ve always hated. I never had Xbox Live on my 360 unless it was a free trial or deep discount because I never wanted to pay for it.
Overall I think there are a lot of kinks that needed to be worked out. It’s a bit much to push all at once, and I don’t believe a lot of this stuff should be standard from the get go. Having the option there would be entirely fine with me, but it needed more of a transition to it. Giving the digital copy of a game with a physical copy would be great, but not making the disc a simple key and nothing more. Hard drives need to be expanded, cloud features need to be an option, internet speeds need to not only be faster, but more reliable. A slower transition would have made things easier, but the risk feels exciting. If it all works out fine, it’s going to be awesome!