Thanks to Polygon, who recently published an article (April 26th) with information from their sources, the Xbox 720 has a bunch of new rumours kicking about it. Polygon’s sources claim that the Xbox 720 will have expansions to its social and connected features, and that the console apparently won’t require an always-on internet connection to play its games (much to the opposite of what has been previously rumoured). The flipside of that is, however, that publishers will allegedly able to make the call on that decision and dictate the always-on internet connection requirement should they wish.
Before I get onto that, I’d like to first talk about one of the other claims made by Polygon’s contacts. Like what was detailed during the PS4′s reveal, the Xbox 720 is said to allow its gamers to record their gameplay shenanigans digitally and share them via networks like Facebook and YouTube. Microsoft are allegedly coming up with this feature but they haven’t disclosed anything as of yet. Once the feature is turned on, the console will apparently start capturing and storing footage as if it were a DVR (Digital Video Recorder). Gamers can apparently later go into the stored footage and select highlights of that footage. It is also said that gamers can schedule recording to occur automatically whenever a particular in-game event happens, like gaining achievements or scoring headshots.
If that feature turns out to be confirmed by Microsoft during their reveal on May 21st, then honestly…that sounds pretty alright, actually. However, like other tantalising features I’ve commented on recently, it’s a convenience feature: record what you want specifically at a particular time to make a 360 no-scope headshot montage in order to save up on hours of video editing – that’s okay when used in that context, I believe. I won’t have a fully formed opinion on it unless I use the feature or see it in action myself.
Microsoft stepping into the whole recording-and-sharing-videos scene is all fine and dandy, but let’s get onto the real crux of what drew me to this story. Polygon’s sources claim that the Xbox 720 will have some form of an always-online requirement. Apparently the requirement will be for supporting both non-gaming entertainment apps as well as a possible anti-piracy tool. An extract from Polygon’s article details this further.
“Sources tell Polygon that the next Xbox will indeed have some form of an always-on requirement. That will be both to support the suite of non-gaming entertainment applications that will be launched alongside the console, like streaming video services, but also as a possible anti-piracy tool.
Currently, the console will support digital rights management and anti-piracy checks using an internet connection. Under Microsoft’s current guidelines, which may still be changed, the decision of whether a game will require an internet connection to work and if that is a one-time authentication or a constant connection, will be left up to individual publishers.”
I’m not surprised one bit that anti-piracy came up. The whole always-online rumour suggested a means to control and fend off piracy right from the beginning. At least, to me it did. Don’t get me wrong, piracy is bad and I can understand why such an implementation would be considered in order to protect products.
For once, though, since I first got into writing about Xbox 720 rumours I believe, I find something about the always-online rumour I mostly agree with. I’m honestly okay with a one-time authentication for video games, I’m not okay with a constant connection, though – that business is for MMOs, I feel.
Coming from a PC gaming background I, for the longest time, had to put in product codes for my games. Even though punching in codes may seem different than authenticating a game online to some, but I don’t believe it is – they’re practically the same.
After putting in the product codes for my game I had the choice of registering the game online. I sometimes did. What the registration did was authenticate my bought game and save that recognition of authenticity to the servers of the publisher/developer. That is most likely a bastardisation of what actually happens, but I see the similarity with punching in product codes with a one-time authentication. I assume the one-time authentication will do the above (both activate and register a game to a gamer’s account – probably their XBL account) all in one convenient effort, just by being connected to the internet for a short period of time and then disconnecting when the authentication is complete. That’s just what I assume.
If publishers decided to implement a one-time authentication into their games then fine, because I assume it’ll only take five to 10 minutes of internet usage to do so, and all it will do is recognise that gamers have bought a legitimate product and will simultaneously register that it is theirs. After that, the game should be able to be played normally without an internet connection. That’s what I’d ideally like to happen.
Overall, this rumour suggests to me that the console may not be the instigator of forcing an always-online connection to play games on the Xbox 720 - that decision may be left to individual publishers (assuming Microsoft will still allow publishers the autonomy to do so in the future). If publishers do impose a one-time authentication in order to play their games then I honestly don’t have a problem with that – that’s the kind of DRM I find acceptable.
Regardless of how I feel, there will still be people who might struggle with always being connected. Unless Microsoft pull something out that’s pretty favourable during their reveal, there will still probably be a lot of gamers who may boycott the console.
What do you think about Microsoft possibly allowing publishers to impose a one-time authentication or an always-on internet connection? Let us know in the comments!