Monday, May 27, 2013

Xbox One and Broadband Internet

Microsoft recently announced that they would requiring that their newly unveiled Xbox One will have to be connected to the internet.  I know that they danced around the details about what that actually meant and they said that you would not have to be connected to the internet.  But at the end of the day, you will have to be connected to play games according to The Verge.  This among other things has caused a huge uproar in the gaming community.  My personal thoughts are that it is okay to have to be connected to the internet to get those really shiny features but completely ridiculous to make the consumer have to be connected.

My first argument is that not everyone in North America actually has broadband internet in their home.  I was never sure of exact figures.  But just in my everyday life, I know and run into lots of people who don't have broadband access for numerous reasons.  That got me thinking about that subject a bit more.  Why doesn't everyone at least have broadband access and who are these people.  According to, only 65% of Americans have broadband.  Wow!   That's only about 3 out of 5 people or a little over half.  If you dig a little deeper, you will then notice that only roughly half or 50% of Hispanics and African Americans have broadband.  To me, this is a monumental fail on behalf of our ISP's and government.  It's bad enough that those of us who do have broadband are paying unfair and unjust prices (that's my opinion of course) but not everyone even has the availability to access this very important resource.

This is absurd in 2013 where the internet is as important as any other infrastructure such as telephones and
highways.  But a quick Google search will quickly result in nothing but bad news for America and it's infrastructure.  Reports that our infrastructure grades as a D+, bridges collapsing from state to state, and the empty promises that our government is "committed" to rebuilding it.  I'm not even going to go into the many government and other entities out there who are trying to control the internet in different capacities from censorship to policing.  So what does all this mean in the grand scheme of things?  You'd have to be a caveman to not think that the internet is the future.  This resource and how we use will position us in the global standings as either champs or chumps.  Our kids fluency in it relies on it.  Communication needs it.  Socializing breeds in it.  Commerce rides it.  And most importantly information is it.

Now!  What does that mean to the gamer?  First it means that Microsoft will be alienating a very big chunk of their potential consumers.  I know too many people who rarely or never connected their Wii, Playstation 3, or Xbox 360 to the internet and was very content in playing offline.  I don't think Microsoft will convince them to have to be plugged in just so they can get a TV feature on their TV.  Sony hasn't stated as of yet if they will have a similar policy for online usage but I would not be surprised.  If they didn't, then that could be a huge advantage in favor of Sony.  I'm a PC gamer first which on a computer in these days it's almost a given that your connected by broadband somehow but I rarely see an application refuse to work because it' not online.

My open message to Microsoft and any other company who feels like they need to force customers into certain services that aren't required for the operation of their product is simply stop it.  Ultimately customers will find something else.  Especially in the entertainment arena.  And even more especially in the gaming arena.  The options in how to waste your time these days are far to numerous to have to be stuck with a company who is making demands.  And these options will only grow as 2013 goes into the holiday season.  Mobile gaming, Playstation 4 (maybe), Ouya, Steam Box, Nvidia Shield, and new games for platforms they already own guarantees that no one needs to spend their very valuable cash on any one product.  Let's be reasonable Xbox One.  People who want integrated or extended TV solutions already have it.  And I do understand that a big part of phoning home every once in awhile is more like a DRM (digital rights management) statement.  But is this the best you could think of?  Taking what everyone hated about EA's DRM and using that?  I for one gave Microsoft a pass as the Xbox heated up but it's obvious that they are the same old Microsoft who was bullying their way onto peoples desktops of yesteryear.  Well it was nice knowing you Microsoft, I've got games to play online and offline... on another platform.

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