Well the question of DRM and next generation game consoles has reared its ugly head again. In case you missed it, yesterday saw the release of yet another rumor. This time it is the Xbox 720 that we're told won't play used games. In the echo chamber of the tech blogs (and I'm not pointing fingers...I'm as guilty as anyone) it's easy for these rumors to seem more legit than they really are. In this case, as far as I can ascertain, they all trace back to a post on Edge Online. Edge claims that the next console from Microsoft "will require an Internet connection in order to function" and that this means that used games won't run. The article says that games will ship with a one-time activation code. Where are they getting this from? "Sources with first-hand experience of Microsoft’s next generation console" is all they tell us.
I'm calling BS on this one; they lost me as soon as they claimed the next Xbox won't function with no internet connection. No, I don't have any insider information. I just don't think Microsoft would do something to cut themselves off from large chunks of their potential market like this. Think about all those kids who have an Xbox in their bedrooms but don't have WiFi in the house. Or even rural families who're still on dial-up. How about people in the military who can't just plug in an ethernet cable. And that's just in the US. Xbox is an international business, after all. Even if you discount the percentage of people who can't get their Xbox 720 online, you have to consider how many consumers just wouldn't want to buy into that kind of a deal. I'm actually sensitive to the issue publishers have with Gamestop building their business on buying used games for pennies on the dollar and then selling them at huge mark-ups, but as soon as you eliminate 'used games' you also eliminate loaned games and individuals trading between themselves and I think a lot of consumers would have a big problem having those options locked out. Additionally as more and more of us who have fast internet connections just skip the hassle of going out to buy a piece of plastic and instead download new titles, the used game business will dry up organically without any ham-fisted action on the part of Microsoft (or Sony). So nope, I don't believe yesterday's rumor one bit. It was just two weeks ago that another mysterious source came clean and announced that he or she had made a 'leak' up just to see how easy it was to get coverage. Turns out it was pretty easy. It's a pretty safe bet that Sony will be revealing the Playstation 4 on February 20th. Microsoft will follow suit some time in the following months. I'll probably keep talking about leaks and rumors because I think they're kind of fun (and lots of you read these posts) but I urge everyone not to get too worked up about what you read until you hear it coming from an identifiable source that you can trust. We don't have long to wait for some real, solid information. Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.