[Editorial] Reset the Xbox One’s policies? yes please!


I know this sound weird. Normally I don’t give two crackers and a bottle of Coke about console gaming. I may own a few consoles, including an Xbox 360, but I’m hardly an avid gamer. But that doesn’t keep me from wanting to see some new ideas in console gaming.
Let’s start with what we have now: We are using the same structured system of: Buy physical copy of game > Use game > Game can be loaned to friend for a few weeks and returned\Game can be damaged > Bored of game? Resell.
As much as I like this idea, and as much as I can see the fears of people my age who grew up on the NES, SNES, Genesis, N64, etc where you can still dig it out, plug it in, and it’ll work, I can see how the new Xbox One’s launch policies on games can both fit into the “playable for generations” idea along with the “works a helluvalot better than a stupid disc” idea. Hear me out.
First: With the “old way of doing things”, you’re basically on your own when it comes to games. You buy it, you play it by physically inserting it into your console, and when you’re done, you take it out of the machine and either store it, trade it, or sell it. Make sense, right? At the same time, how many years have we been NOT doing this with PC games? When was the last time you ran to the store to buy yourself a copy of HalfLife 2 or The Orange Box to gift to a friend? When was the last time you had to wash or resurface a PC game disk because it wasn’t reading right?
I’ll give you a few minutes to try and come back to me on that. I know that my current laptop doesn’t even have a CD\DVD drive, and when I come across games that require a disk, I just rip a .iso file and save it on a flash drive. (and in all fairness, I’ve been looking into doing the same with my Xbox 360, as it’s possible, and makes sense from the standpoint of “I own two consoles in two different physical locations separated by a large distance further than a 10 minute walk, much closer to a 4 hour drive, why should I have to buy the game twice) Which brings me to point two:
2. Why should I have to buy a game twice just so that I don’t have to decide which games my fiancee gets for the summer, and which ones I get. I don’t have to do this on Steam. I don’t have to do this with direct-download games on the Xbox, why should I have to do this with physical discs? That’s where the Xbox One shines.

What features do I think make sense with the “new way of doing things” as Microsoft proposed for the Xbox One before a bunch of console haters and PS3\4 players made a mockery of it and convinced MS to do otherwise?
let’s start with the obvious: game sharing.
The way I understand it working is simple. You buy a game. It’s either on a physical disk, or a downloadable code. If it’s a disc, I can slap it into my console, and it’ll rip it to the HDD. This makes sense for 2 reasons. 1 being that the BluRay discs are HORRIBLE for holding games. Ask any PS3 developer and you find out that the 25 or 50GB of space on the disk is basically wasted due to horrible seek times, and having to put the texture files and other game data across the whole disc multiple times in order for it to load properly. I doubt that the Xbox One will be much different mostly because of the way that file structures work, but I could also see developers putting all the required files and pointers into a single bit of info that the Xbox One OS reads, and can rip your copy of the game while you play. Point 2 being that you don’t have to worry about damaged discs. It’s no longer like the Xbox 360 in terms of having to put the disc in, and then it’ll play off the HDD. It’s entirely discless after install. Like modern PC games are. (And most modern Discless PC games phone home every now and then, yet you don’t really hear legitimate gamers complaining as long as it’s non intrusive and doesn’t kill the experience *cough SimCity Cough*)

So now let’s say you’ve ripped your new copy of “Halo 7 N00bx Among us” (or whatever it’ll be called) to your HDD and you want to take it over to your friend’s house to show him it. He doesn’t own the game, but he’s friends with you on Xbox Live since you met him a few months back. According to how I understand the new MS policy, you’ll be able to drop that game into his console (but not install it unless required by the game, and even then it’s just the required game files, and not a whole rip) and play at his place because he’s your friend. No loss there.

What about selling the game? If I understand correctly, you can release rights to the game. That gives you either a code that you attache with the game that the new owner gets when they receive the game, as a way of proving that it’s their copy, or if you don’t produce that code, you’ll be able to pay a reduced price for the game to get the code yourself. How does this help used game stores you ask? It’s simple. If you’ve got a knowledgeable customer who knows how this works, they’ll bring in the disc with the code and you’ll be all good. The store can check the code’s validity with MS through an online tool or something of the sort and you’re all good. People who bring in just the game with no code will have go deactivate the game in-store by knowing the login information for their gamertag and releasing it via the web. Otherwise the store can go through the process themselves of buying a fresh code, and passing that cost onto the customer who buys the used copy.

What about rental stores? I assume MS is smart enough to know that companies like GameFly generate a huge amount of business for them. What better way to get more people buying games than having a game rental company who doesn’t even need to ship games. GameFly could provide you with a “Trial Code” that MS can give them. That code is only good for 7 days from it’s entering into the console. If you want to extend the trial, GameFly (or any other company) can provide another code in however many day increments you want. Lets say you want to buy the game? Hit the “buy it now” button when your trial is over and it’s yours. Kinda like the “Try” button on the Windows Phone marketplace, but with console games.

Now why do I like these policies better than the physical discs idea that we’re going to keep being stuck with? Because it’s new, and it sounds better. But it needs to be opt-in. If I want to go with the “new” way of doing things, I want to tell my Xbox One on startup that I want to try this new experience. If I don’t want to and want to live in the past, I should be able to tell it that too. But I’d much rather have a console that’s built for the future and has ideas that will be awesome in years to come, than end up looking like Bill Gates did when he suggested the original Xbox have a Modem instead of broadband. If that had happened, we wouldn’t have having this discussion, as the Xbox would have gone the way of the Dreamcast (Dead upon arrival to the person I sold it to thanks to USPS being rough with the box… or something like that)

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About Author
Someone who feels the need to help others using the information that I have discovered. If someone else finds it useful, I'm more than happy to have helped.

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