In a continuing story, Gamestop stock took a dive today as another industry insider has signaled that Microsoft does indeed intend to make their next console completely DEPENDENT on an internet connection for functionality, and will not allow second hand titles to be played.
This rumor has been floating around for over 2 years, and it appeared to be mere speculation about the forthcoming next-gen Xbox initially. But then word got out that Sony's PS4 would take a similar tact as well, using an internet connection to facilitate a token verification system that would prevent used games from being played. Now it seems though that these rumors are much more than speculation. They are appearing more and more each day to be an integral part of both manufacturers overall strategies behind their upcoming hardware platforms.
According to Edge-Online, "Microsoft’s next console will require an Internet connection in order to function, ruling out a second-hand game market for the platform. A new iteration of Xbox Live will be an integral part of Microsoft’s next console, while improved Kinect hardware will also ship alongside the unit. Sources with first-hand experience of Microsoft’s next generation console have told us that although the next Xbox will be absolutely committed to online functionality, games will still be made available to purchase in physical form. Next Xbox games will be manufactured on 50GB-capacity Blu-ray discs, Microsoft having conceded defeat to Sony following its ill-fated backing of the HD-DVD format. It is believed that games purchased on disc will ship with activation codes, and will have no value beyond the initial user." In addition, giving more weight to this potential bombshell is the insider's confirmation of the next Xbox specs: An AMD 8 Core x64 CPU running at 1.6Ghz, a D3D11.x 800 MHz graphics component and 8GB of DDR3 RAM. There has been a lot of speculation regarding the HDD and storage solutions on the new Xbox, however, as Edge points out, Microsoft's continued commitment to pushing online content delivery suggests that this new console will have the largest HDD they have ever put into a console.
Several development sources have also confirmed information I made light of in a previous posting on the PS4's superior power, that though bothe the new Xbox and the PS4 are moving toward hardware architecture that resembles a PC, the PS4's design provides a significant advantage in leveraging power. As Edge points out "Studios working with the next-gen Xbox are currently being forced to work with only approved development libraries, while Sony is encouraging coders to get closer to the metal of its box. Furthermore, the operating system overhead of Microsoft’s next console is more oppressive than Sony’s equivalent, giving the PlayStation-badged unit another advantage."
This information also validates the the impression that Microsoft continues to invest heavily in motion control interfaces, with a significantly improved Kinect unit shipping WITH the next Xbox platform, becoming less of an accessory, and instead an integral and core component to the operation and user experience on Microsoft's new baby. A January 23rd trademark filing from Sony also suggests the PS4 will posses a truly unique "PS Eye" like camera, called the "Panopticon", the name suggests a 360 degree field of view. A Panopticon is an building designed to allow a central hub to view or observe 360 degrees around it.
These new rumors are starting to shed light on both Sony and M$'s business models for their new consoles. By disallowing used software to be played on the new systems, they are killing off an entire market of products, as used products account for 28% of national chain Gamestop's overall sales. As such, news of this development cause a dip in the corporation's stock value. Disallowing used software to play forces gamers to purchase all titles new, at prices between $50-$70. this is in stark contrast to the used market where many gamers are able to pick up titles from between $5-$50 depending on age and popularity.
This creates a huge shift, as there are millions of gamers who rely on the used market. With this new push from the console manufacturers, these customers will be not only marginalized, it may completely eliminate some. A dangerous game for sure. Not many times has a company completely exiled a portion of their customer base without a backlash. It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds.