Before the Flood Gates Open

With E3 right around the corner, it might be for the best to get a good look at where everyone and everything stands before the flood gates open.

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After Microsoft’s unveiling of the XBOX ONE last month, tons of speculation bubbled to the surface about the system’s policy on used games. The confusion and plain lack of information lead to a severe backlash among core gamers. In response Microsoft as released official statements on XBOX ONE’s used game policies, kinect integration and online functionality.

The released statements do clear up how often will have to be online with system and how kinect will work with it. They make it very clear that you will control what your kinect sees and detects, answering the privacy concerns many had. What the statemetns do not make clear however, is how games licensing works on XBOX ONE. Even after reading the article several times, it is still unclear what exactly you can and can not do with your games.

It appears that you are allowed to ‘unlock’ disc-based games once from your profile and give them to a friend. But does this mean it is then locked to theirs? It also appears you can log in to your profile and access all of your games from any XBOX ONE. You can also have multiple profiles on an individual console but if one profile buys a game, do the other profiles get it as well? Or does every profile have to buy it separately?  The statement also explains that you are allowed to bring back disc-based games to specific retailers to receive credit in return, however it appears that this is not mediatory and will only be allowed if the publisher approves. This is all for disc-based games too, it seems that digital games are locked to your profile that there will be no online ‘trade-in’ system in place at launch. Microsoft has confirmed that day one digital is mediatory for the system.microsoft-xbox-one1

One thing is clear about XBOX ONE’s used game policy though, it is publisher based. It is up to them to determine if their game will have the ability to be traded in. And after Microsoft announced this, many major third party publisher are refusing to comment on their stance. SEGA and NAMCO did release a statement claiming they are discussing the matter in house but companies like KONAMI and CAPCOM refused to comment. You can read Patrick Kepleck’s full story here for more information.

The fact that Microsoft felt the need to release three separate, long-winded statements to clear the air is not a good sign. Nor is the fact that the statements seem to lead to more questions than answers. Maybe Microsoft making disc based gaming more and more complicated better eases users into going full digital. We all know thats where these platforms are headed anyways. That being said, there defiantly seems to be a negative vibe surrounding XBOX ONE going into this year’s E3.

Now Sony has played this smart. Their meeting back in February centered around the PS4’s hardware and developer focused software. While some of the games they showed seemed a bit drab, the variety they displayed was refreshing. That being said, there are still many unanswered questions about Sony’s new system. I feel that the pressing one is their stance on used games. Seeing the backlash against Microsoft’s announcements, Sony has done the smart thing and has kept quiet for now. In all honesty, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony had a similar policy in place. With the market trying to go full digital in the upcoming years, it seems logical to make disc-based  gaming a chore.

SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT INC. PLAYSTATION 4

But even if Sony does announce the PS4 will not play used games, Microsoft has already taken the brunt of the criticism. Sure, fans will most likely be upset but with most of their anger has already been thrown at XBOX ONE, Sony may skid by with only a few scraps and bruises. Sony is in a good position.

Even though Sony seems to be riding high into E3, actual games will be the determining factor from here on out. E3 will be a battleground over console exclusives. There is a still a ton of unannounced next gen games waiting to be unveiled within the coming days.

But wait, where does Nintendo fit into all this?

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Nintendo’s lack of a keynote left many wondering what exactly they would be doing with their E3 time. In a recently released video by Nintendo, Reggie reassures fans that they will be announcing new games and showing off new gameplay footage as well. There will most likely be an announcement for a new Galaxy Team Mario, a new Zelda, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a new Smash Bros is shown as well.

What concerns me is how Nintendo is handling this. In the video Reggie states that they will kick off E3 with a Nintendo Direct video. This decision feels wrong, it’s going to keep people out of the loop. Nintendo Direct has a very focused audience and the main demographic doesn’t check it all that often. I feel like a lot of information will be lost if Nintendo focuses its big game announcements through the Direct service. Nintendo may be buried under all the XBOX ONE and PS4 buzz and announcements.

This year’s E3 is sure to be a mad house of announcements, stage shows and of course, next generation content. It’s definitely going to be interesting and exciting.

 

-Matthew Bruce 2013

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