Inspired by an article titled “Consumers won… or did they?” by Miikka Lehtonen (original text in Finnish here), I decided to write something about the fuzz around Xbox One myself. As you might remember, Microsoft announced in the introduction of Xbox One that they would transition to a new type of owning and distributing philosophy with its games. In a sense, discs would only become a delivery method for the games and consumers would actually buy the right to play them with a digital license. Also, it was told that Xbox One would need daily Internet connection in order to “call home”: this way a gamer’s right to play a particular game could be verified (a.k.a. DRM). This meant that you could not sell your game to e.g. your friend, but only to a verified reseller. On the obvious positive side, all the games could have been played without using the physical disc by installing them on the console’s hard drive. Some consumers welcomed this renewal with open arms, but unfortunately those who disagree with change, the laggards, have a track record of being the loudest of the audience.
So the near impossible happened, and Microsoft took back its words. None of the things described above would happen – not at least with Xbox One during its launching year. Many gaming sites went with the flow and praised this decision. I’m happy to say that it was a Finnish site (mentioned above) which was among the first to steel man Microsoft’s original decision, and consequently challenge the company’s move of backing down. Xbox was pivoting in many ways toward super-popular PC gaming platform Steam. Like Miikka, I remember too how Steam was hated around the Internet when it was launched; right now it seems that everyone considers Steam as the gold standard game-distribution method on PCs. This makes it even weirder that masses aren’t ready for the same transition with console gaming. I, for one, have drifted away from console gaming to PC gaming exactly because how convenient Steam is. I have absolutely no problems with the fact that I own a hundred games digitally and all of them are tied to my personal account. I can’t even imagine having that many games on discs, that’s just plain waste of resources and living room space for me.
I believe that the future is in many senses a lot more digitalized. One day we’ll laugh how some us wanted to use and own physical discs – actually, I’m pretty sure we’ll find that outright absurd – maybe not during this console generation, but maybe during the next. But then again, I find myself often being an early adopter with these things. Right now I have in my cloud my PC games, music, photos and functional Microsoft Office with every document I’ve created during last few years. So if my computer would explode right now, nothing would be lost. I wouldn’t mind to have that same safety with my console, too.