A Slightly More Convincing Reason For The Xbox One's Forced Online

Illustration for article titled A Slightly More Convincing Reason For The Xbox Ones Forced Online

There's a very good argument that Microsoft's biggest failure this week was not its Xbox One policies, but its messaging. The way gamers were lumped with obligation, instead of opportunity.

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Take the console's mandatory online check-in. For nearly every single one of you, that will never be a problem, at least on your end (should Microsoft's servers go down is another story). Practically, at least. But on principle, it's come across very badly, because all Microsoft said was that you needed to check in, not why.

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You can sell almost anything to almost anyone if you package it right, and I wonder how differently Microsoft's week would have been had it let Xbox One engineering manager Jeff Henshaw talk about the online requirement like he did earlier today.

At a "closed-door meeting", reported by GamesIndustry, Henshaw gives what Microsoft has been lacking all week: a real enticement for being always-online, instead of just an order.

Sure, some developers had already tried this; Turn 10's Dan Greenwalt gave us some early, "first step" ideas for the use of cloud computing earlier in the week. But they were hardly as broad or ambitious a sell as this.

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Saying that Microsoft has cloud servers spread all across the world to help run Xbox One games, Henshaw says "Game developers are building games that have bigger levels than ever before. In fact, game developers can now create persistent worlds that encompass tens or hundreds of thousands of players without taxing any individual console, and those worlds that they built can be lusher and more vibrant than ever before because the cloud persists and is always there, always computing."

"Those worlds can live on in between game sessions", he adds, drawing a line under games that would make this an extra and those where it's part of the game itself, the world updating every day. "If one player drops out, that world will continue on and can experience the effects of time, like wear from weather damage, so that when a player comes back into the universe it's actually a slightly evolved place in the same way that our real world evolves a little bit from the time we go to sleep to the time we wake up. Game developers have given us incredibly positive feedback on the crazy different ways that they can use this incredible new cloud power resource."

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Vague promises of games to come at the time of a console's launch are hardly something you can take to the bank.


Is that enough to sway people's opinions? Without actual examples, it's hard to say. Vague promises of games to come at the time of a console's launch are hardly something you can take to the bank. And it's only half the coin; the other side of course being Microsoft is still wanting to exert some form of control over the console, which will never sit well with people.

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But as bad as things seem now, if Microsoft and developers can actually take advantage of this network of servers and truly provide "living" game worlds, as nebulous as that sounds now, they may bring people around to the idea of having a console tethered to the internet. Slowly and reluctantly, maybe, but as we've already explored earlier this week, gamers will let a company do almost anything to them if they're convinced the experience is worth it.

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Xbox One has power of 10 Xbox 360 consoles, says Microsoft [GI.biz]

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DISCUSSION

This defies almost all knowledge of computing I know... I mean, it is possible to send a task via network to a remote computer to process a job on the cloud, and then send back the results. We saw this with the PS3 and the Folding@Home project.

But this is vastly different, vastly more advanced, and to my knowledge not currently possible. Microsoft is basically telling us games could render Pixar Level Graphic games because your game is being processed by 300,000 servers in real time and streaming the results to you... And that's bullshit. I want visual proof.

Show me a game on Xbox One offline, and another online, and show me a gigantic graphical leap... Please. Considering that almost every game at their presentation was multiplatform, either PS4 or PC as well. Then that means the game will not have these features even if they did exist.

Even if it is possible, the amount of data being sent and the speed in which it needs to be sent in real time to achieve what they claim is not possible for everyone even in the USA, let alone the world. Most countries have data speed limits or huge fees for going over a certain allotted data amount.

What is possible is what is shown in Forza, sending your driving style to the cloud and sharing it with others. That seems cool to me, but I would not consider it revolutionary, considering I recall Quake 3 on PS2 doing this by creating an AI ghost to share with friends via memory card, because the game had no online mode, this is just an online version of that. Similar to Spore as well, creating a race that is shared with everyone.

Is that worth always online? I don't believe so... How would that effect Bioshock? Fallout? Skyrim? Metal Gear? It wouldn't, it's not worth alienating some College Kids and Military who can't get online... Let alone most the world. Microsoft envisions a connected world? Good luck with that.

This is the most US focused device I've ever seen.

By the way, Poland, where Witcher is made, is pissed Xbox One won't work in their country, and the Devs of Witcher just found out and are not happy...

Also, Amazon had a poll, 94% said they want a PS4, 6% Xbox One.

Microsoft needs to sell this better to the public.