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Microsoft Isn’t Done with Digital-Only Gaming

by Eric Frederiksen | September 5, 2013September 5, 2013 5:30 pm PDT

E3-2013-Microsoft-Xbox One-Front

Microsoft may have backed off on some of its policies after this year’s Xbox One presentation at E3, but an interview with Gamespot made it clear they’re still interested in pursuing some of those ideas this generation.

Xbox Director Albert Penello told Gamespot that a digital-only future is “going to happen,” and that the company plans to support trading, loaning, and reselling of digital games down the road.

“I don’t think there’s anybody in the industry; no matter what you thought about our original policies around DRM; I don’t think there’s anybody that doesn’t know that someday, it’s going to happen. Right?

It’s already happened on tablets and smartphones. It’s mostly there on PC. If you look at what’s happening with Steam. And just the congregation of gaming on Steam.”

Penello also acknowledged that the quick jump to digital-only might’ve been a bit abrupt for console-focused gamers who are used to playing off discs rather than the more gradual move to digital we saw with Steam.

“I’m glad we’ve gone back to the disc model. People have to accept it. The internet bandwidth caps have to support it globally. Internet infrastructure has to support it globally. So it’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of time.”

Penello also addressed reselling of digital games, albeit in a roundabout way:

“We were trying to implement the ability to trade [and] loan digital games with your friends, which is something that no one else was doing. I believe, in retrospect that people have calmed down and gone back and looked at what we said. People are starting to understand, ‘Wow, they did actually want to allow me to loan and trade,’ which other digital ecosystems don’t want to do. And so, yeah, I think we need to do that, that has to be part of the experience.

I get a lot of mails saying ‘god, please bring back the family sharing.’ We’d love to figure out how to bring that back. I still think it was a good idea. Maybe it was a little too soon for some people, but I still think there were a lot of good ideas in there. And we’ll bring it back when the time is right.”

He also addressed the idea of backwards compatibility via streaming as presented by Sony:

“What the cloud can do is sort of hard to pin. When you say to the customer, we want the box to be connected, we want developers to know the cloud is there, we’re really not trying to make up some phony thing. But there are so many things the servers can do. Using our Azure cloud servers, sometimes it’s things like voice processing. It could be more complicated things like rendering full games like Gaikai and delivering it to the box. We just have to figure out how…”

The tone Penello takes throughout the interview is exactly what is helping Microsoft turn around the gross missteps they took in May and June. This shows us what Microsoft wants to do with the future of the Xbox One but it’s not being forced down our throats. It’s welcoming instead of intimidating. If Microsoft’s representatives continue with this one, they should have a much easier time getting their ideas across in the future.

The Xbox One will launch on November 22nd, 2013.

GameSpot

Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...

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