Was The Xbox One's Digital Future Right All Along?

NowGamer: "The console wars were only the beginning.

The PS4 and Xbox One tore gaming camps asunder when it came to forums and other avenues of discussion, but they only ushered in a new age, one that brought with it them the uncertainty and trepidation that is the digital age.

Though previously it was an ideal relegated to a future that seemed far, far away, digital distribution for video games was now a reality."

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TomShoe1740d ago


The only benefit I'm seeing with digital right now is that you don't have to get up and change discs. What are the trade offs? Inflexible pricing and $0 of trade in value. I just traded in my PS3 copy of CoD: Ghosts for $27. If I bought it digital, I would've been stuck with it forever.

I'm not switching to digital until they give me a reason.

mhunterjr1740d ago

You're right, they should have had the reasons fully explained and in place for the announcement. I really think they were just unprepared for the console launch.

If there was Family sharing, flexible pricing, and license trading, I'd think more people would have been perfectly content with their vision.

ZombieDust1740d ago

Maybe Im wrong or misunderstood what Microsoft meant with their original plan... But werent they going to allow up to ten users on a single console use a digital game.?

darthv721740d ago

@tom, you ever heard of the term 'forced acceptance'?

If you are waiting for a reason you will likely hit the 'forced acceptance' before a "reason" is actually presented. it has happened in many forms of media over decades.

When the industry wants to make a change they start slow by giving choice to the consumer until the point where they will just mandate a stop to one format and from that point on the new "up and coming" format is the only choice.

Many will try and hold out while others just accept it and move on. If you want to play the newest game from sony or Ms and there is no physical copy too will be forced to accept the digital future.

As to the question of it being right or wrong, there is more to these industries than just the consumer. So the reasons to make such changes are many, and weighed accordingly in the best interest of the parties involved.

Not all decisions made are bad and in some ways can benefit the consumer, but it is a case by case basis.

mhunterjr1740d ago

They did, but they were unable to explain how it would work. Their response was 'we'll' explain later. They refused to address concerns over whether publishers could opt out, or answer the question on whether friends would have full access to a game or just a timed trial. They failed to explain how multiplayer between sharing friends would work. They failed to explain how trade ins with'approved vendors' would work. They had a lot of explaining to do, but were unprepared to do it. They were asking for preorders, but couldn't explain exactly what was being bought...

Kingthrash3601740d ago

zombie....yes thats true.
but have 10 people living in your house? do you realise how much storage would be used? you can the last generation and generations before that. its your console and you bought the game. if you have 10 accounts on 1 system then man you have a huge family, and why not make an account for you and 1 for everybodyelse. if youhave 10 hardcore gamers on 1 console youd never have time to play.
the whole 10 on 1 cosole was a play on words imo. hek you might be able to do it now. not many have 4 people on one console, let alone 10 to even know.

SilentNegotiator1740d ago

One look at GFWL and I know that no explanation in the world would convince me of MS DRM being a good thing.

4Sh0w1740d ago (Edited 1740d ago )

Yes. For me it would have been perfect, I very rarely sold a game last gen, usually one gifted to me, hell I'm all digital now, I'm always online and I wanted family sharing. I hope they move to an all digital option for X1 where you can sign up your X1 & gamertag to be locked to Digital with games costing $5 less, trade to others in the digital program, sign in and play with no discount on any X1 and family sharing along with other digital incentives, I garuantee it will be a very popular option.

Hicken1740d ago

If that family sharing and all were really gonna be so good, why didn't they even TRY to explain it? Honestly, I think it's wishful thinking to believe that what they were keeping from us would have been as good as all that.

What we DID know about the limitations of their digital future was bad enough. Adding in such a small HDD that can't be replaced without voiding the warranty, supposed external HDD support that STILL isn't available, and not even enough well-placed server banks to adequately support all the markets they're in, and it's clear even Microsoft wasn't ready for their own vision of the digital future.

And, again, it bears mentioning that the world's internet is not ready. Not just in terms of infrastructure, but also in regards to the companies that control said infrastructure. Why is it that these things- which are even more important than Microsoft's vision- frequently go unnoticed by people thinking it's a good idea?

mewhy321740d ago

the consumer wants to hold something tangible in their hands. They also don't like the idea of ms basically telling them what they can and cant do with that game. That's exactly what would be happening right now if the PS4 wasn't thumping them on every front and if Don Mattrick would have had his way

gaffyh1740d ago

@zombie - It was incredibly convoluted, 10 people could share one game apparently, but Major Nelson said it wasn't the full game, it was more of a trial for a bit. There was also something about not being able to play it if someone out of the ten was playing the game etc. It was too ridiculous to get working really.

MS was completely wrong about the way they went about with digital. If they said, games would be $40, then people would have taken notice, but there idea was like a half-step, and they should have gone the whole 9 yards if they wanted to go all digital.

mhunterjr1740d ago

I agree with most of your comment. I'm just not as skeptical about their intentions. It's pretty clear to me that MS was simply unprepared. They simply didn't have the details of their product finalized. Many of the publishers has no idea MS intended to have family sharing. So it's no surprise they couldn't talk about it, they didn't have the answers.

To say the worlds infrastructure is insufficient to support their digital vision is an exaggeration of what they were proposing. A DRM check is nothing more than a few Kilobytes of data. As long as disks were supported as a means to install games, A cell phone connected to smart glass could have handled the DRM check once a day, without denting anyone's data limits.

The same goes with family sharing, a digital license is just a few Kb's associated with a specific purchases. Transferring that license doesn't need any advanced infrastructure.

As far as the HDDs go, they need external support. But I don't think folks are hitting any limits yet. It would be nice to have a date, and it's probably something they should have had ready at launch, i

Hicken1740d ago

1. You can't sell a product well if you don't know what all it can do. There's nobody to blame but Microsoft on that one, and I frankly have no sympathy for them on that. The fact remains, however, that what they DID divulge was confusing and lacked cohesion. The total package- such as it was- was unappealing.

2. The DRM check-in was only part of it. The much-lauded(mostly after the fact) sharing and ability to play your game on any XB1 would require either downloading or streaming multiple gigs of data to multiple systems. In either case, a game like, say, Titanfall would use up all of some people's data for the month.

All that aside, my biggest gripe was this: even something as little as the 24-hour checkin would have been impossible for troops stationed overseas. With dozens of friends and family either current or former military, I'm well aware that the 360 was the preferred console for people stationed overseas. And they wouldn't have even the opportunity for that periodic, handful of kilobytes-sized checkin that wouldn't be a problem for most people to do on their cellphones here at home.

That indifference is and was a HUGE problem for me.

3. People ARE hitting the limits. Quite a few folks have just bought every game that's come out, or close to it. And since they all get installed to the HDD... Of course, there's always the option to delete old data, but I'd rather not, regardless of how long it's been since I played a game. I recognize that not everybody feels the way I do, but I also know I'm not alone in my thinking.

Nothing was ready, on Microsoft's end, on the internet's end, on the market's end. And at the current rate, it'll be years before all these aspects actually are where they need to be.

AnotherGamer1171740d ago

I currently have data caps on the internet where I live, so a forced online only model that MS wanted would have not worked for me. Especially with games report 25+ GB per game. At 250GB per month and with kids, I wouldn't be able to get many games at all per month.

Until things change in my area, A digital only console manufactured by anybody will not work.

rainslacker1740d ago

They had plenty of chances to explain it. They chose not to. Throwing out a vague sharing plan is not an explanation, nor a justification. They could have cleared up everything nicely and clearly on multiple occasions before the 180's. Instead, they kept saying "We'll bring the games at E3", or "Buy a 360".

Because of this, I believe they weren't just unprepared, but never expected the amount of backlash they got for it. What they presented is what they wanted. Their fault in the whole explanation wasn't because there may have been a good side they failed at communicating, but that they just expected everyone to go along with it.

4Sh0w1740d ago (Edited 1740d ago )

Well Im sorry some have to pay for data limits. Most people in the US have a flat rate for unlimited high speed internet, costs me about $40 a month.

The good news is they are going to bring some form of the initial plan back as an option you can choose to opt in. Doing it this way is better so those who can't can still go with the normal console and those wanting always on strategy can enjoy the incentives like cheaper games hopefully and at least some form of sharing.

PSVita1739d ago

If they would have lowered the price of games as a trade off for always on and DRM it could have work but they didn't take the time to explain much of anything.

ZombieDust1739d ago

In reply to a few of the replies I got: yeah definitely not arguing that it was well explained and executed by MS, or that it was a perfect plan. Really never would have worked either with that small HDD in the x1.

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lelo1740d ago (Edited 1740d ago )

"Was The Xbox One's Digital Future Right All Along?"

Yep. PC (Steam, Origin, etc) and Smartphones have already reached it. Consoles is just a question of time. Microsoft was getting ready for it, but Sony delayed it for some time...

pompombrum1740d ago (Edited 1740d ago )

Yes, DAMN SONY!! How dare they give consumers the option for flexible prices and trade ins. How dare they let us just take our games over to play at a friends or to lend them away. How dare they have a system in place that doesn't brick our consoles if we can't connect to the internet every 24 hours. How dare they open their eyes and realize not everyone in the world has the infrastructure in place for all digital media. This is simply unacceptable, I'm boycotting Sony!

AtomicGerbil1740d ago

Until there are multiple vendors for console digital licences to generate competition then no, I can't see it being universally acceptable. Right now and the near future all digital content has no place on consoles.

akaFullMetal1740d ago

How did sony do anything? They don't control Microsoft, if anything Microsoft shot themselves in the foot, by not being ready to explain their vision, nor educating people on their may release last year.
All you heard was TV, TV, TV, SPORTS, TV, Ghosts, fish ai, TV.
Another thing, Sony totally embraces digital downloads ever since the ps3, they just give people options.

Volkama1740d ago

@aibreeze Lelo didn't curse or damn Sony, and what he said was quite accurate. Other platforms are already there, consoles will not be for some time. This is quite directly and unequivocally because of Sony's policies.

Whether that's a good or bad thing is a matter of opinion, but clearly a lot of very vocal people share yours.

Personally I don't care about any of the points you raise except for the 24hour check-in. At the same time I'm not missing out on much with the current policies, I just have to stick to downloading everything.

@Flatbattery I agree that is very important. It is actually Sony that are taking positive strides in that direction. The PS4 has an Amazon digital store.

pompombrum1740d ago


Sony didn't take away from those who want digital, they just didn't try forcing it on those who didn't want it and gave consumers options. Those who want an all digital gaming experience have everything they need for that.

DaleCooper1740d ago

If you want to find out where the future of consoles are headed look at the PC. Looking back at the past, you can see it's always been that way. We're headed to a digital future like it or not.

In fact, we're pretty much there. I couldn't even play Thief on XB1 last night because I wasn't signed in. I couldn't sign in, because XB Live was down. Yep, single-player thief is an online only game... ugh.

Volkama1740d ago (Edited 1740d ago )

That's fine, I'm not saying Sony took anything away from me. Well actually if MS's plans had gone ahead I'd be able to buy and discard discs, but that's a pretty minor quibble so I don't begrudge the changes.

If Sony had gone all digital like MS were planning to then that's where we'd be today.

As I say, it has little impact on me. I like the digital ecosystem, I'm happy to embrace it. But I can still do that with both systems right now.

It's still where the industry is heading though, it's in the best interest of every publisher and platform holder out there and at the end of the day they call the shots.

SilentNegotiator1740d ago (Edited 1740d ago )

Console digital stores will never be Steam. Without competition on the system (like PC has multiple services), there will never be anything to match the sales and conveniences provided by Steam on consoles.

mydyingparadiselost1740d ago

At the price MS was asking for their digital future anyone would have better off buying a PC instead of a ONE. With the cost of Live, the higher price point of game due to lack of competition, many non multiplayer games having no need for a consistent online connection and more there would be no reason to buy an MS console because it would be a rip off. Couple this with many places the world simply not having the online capabilities needed for using the console (South Africa Titanfall canceled due to crap internet for example) and the problem is just compounded even more.

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curtis921740d ago

Other benefits:

never worry about scratching discs, losing discs (borrowing, stolen etc)

games tied to your account like steam.

don't pay taxes on games (equal to $5 off all full retail games)

supporting sony/ms/n more directly and not supporting places like gamestop & walmart.

kingdip901740d ago (Edited 1740d ago )

Another negative to consider is the fact that net neutrality is now gone.

Internet service providers in the coming years are set to introduce net tariffs and data caps which will put a big cap on downloading or streaming games or any entertainment medium for that matter.

The future of the internet in regard to all digital is far to uncertain at this point to say it's a sure thing or even a good move.

Verizon need there cut.

@ curtis in regard to net neutrality and data limits.

Your right that net neutrality has little to do with data caps, I know in North America data from a lot of companies is 'unlimited' and new cap pricing is slowly being fazed in.

As for the net neutrality argument what the isp's can do now is slow your bandwidth to a halt because you are using a website or a service they don't want you to, like watching netflix to persuade you to subscribe to cable. How this applies to gamers is that people who use a heavy bandwidth quickly will likely be slowed down to a crawl unless they are willing to pay extra monies for a blazing fast high bandwidth mega package.

Either way gamers will be expected to pay more and will likely get sandwiched between net caps and bandwidth speed restrictions meaning they get screwed on both ends.

curtis921740d ago (Edited 1740d ago )

@kingdip90, good points. My hope is resting with Google Fiber. They can save the internet.

Although data caps have always existed as far as I know. That wasn't relegated to a NN issue. NN kept places from blocking services and/or slowing the speeds of certain services.

Lack of NN is likely to be abused mostly with streaming. But for large downloads... they don't care if you're buying digital over retail games. They can about you streaming netflix instead of paying for their cable.

kingdip901740d ago (Edited 1740d ago )

@ curtis

I definitely hope Google fiber will swing in and save the day but that could be years away if it comes at all.

You can also buy movies and TV shows off playstation network and xbox live. Since the big cable companies want you using their services don't expect them not to limit console downloads just to push people to use the cable services,

malokevi1740d ago

You had me at scratching disks.

I'm going all digital this gen, personally. Just seems like the right move. I like telling my Xbox where I want to go without having to get my ass up and sort through my pile of ill-organized scratched disks.

Feel free to call me a lazy slob.

HighResHero1740d ago (Edited 1740d ago )

Having to login to play games you paid for in many casees....
Right now we have options. If you want to go all digital that's fine. I will buy physical and digital depending on the situation. I think the idea that it has to be strictly one or the other is crazy.

Ittoryu1740d ago

Yeah that will end and if their not charging tax then they are breaking the law in my state all internet purchases must be taxed. Second all that "cheap" you seem to think your getting will come to and end next year when data caps are unforced. Enjoy it while it lasts.

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MelvinTheGreat1740d ago

If you bought it digital you would only pay 40$ maximum. I got 150$ worth of PC games (200$ on console) all for 60$ because of digital.

pompombrum1740d ago

Maybe it's different wherever you're from but here in the UK, digital costs more than retail on consoles and more through Origin and Steam store outside of sales. Cdkey websites and VPN tricks get you discounts but generally speaking, digital copies are more expensive.

Evilsnuggle1740d ago (Edited 1740d ago )


That is not why PC games are cheaper. PC games are cheaper becuase the don't have to pay console makers royalties. Also console gaming subsidized AAA PC gaming. developers prefer console because it a closed system and almost no pirating. Most AAA PC games are consoles ports yes developed on PC but to console limitation. Michael pachter said 80% you the gaming industry comes from consoles .

Ittoryu1740d ago

Not to mention Comcast att and Verizon are going to start enforcing data caps this year now that net neutrality is gone.

kingdip901740d ago

Yeah its scary how much an all digital gamer could end up paying... imagine downloading a 20gb game on a 10gb data cap and having to pay for the overage.... ouch! And that's 1 game! A month!

JeffGUNZ1740d ago

Net Neutrality doesn't reflect caps, that's something we should be concerned about if Time Warner Cable and Comcast merge. The US will be screwed at that point.

Net Neutrality was basically restrictions of bandwidth. For instance, you have Comcast internet but no cable TV, you stream all your stuff. Sounds good, right? With Net Neutrality, providers were prohibited from bottlenecking/throttling your service. Using the above example, they would throttle your connection to a slow speed to ruin your netflix streaming when you are using netflix to try and stronghold you into their cable services. Data caps have always been around, the Time Warner and Comcast merge, if it happens, will open the door for that for most of the USA that falls under time warner/comcast service.

N81740d ago

Exactly. Other than not having to get up there is no benefit

Blaze9291740d ago (Edited 1740d ago )

I still think Microsoft should make a cheaper, digital only DRM model Xbox One as originally planned for those who want it.

Not everyone had a problem with it...just saying

xboxnation20131740d ago

yo lying ass u did not get 27 dollars for trading in call of duty ghosts i know for a fact! lol

SonofGod1740d ago

"Inflexible pricing"

You're joking right??

*Steam sales

medman1740d ago

Unless digital means considerably less expensive, (which it should considering there are no manufacturing or shipping costs involved), then it offers nothing of value other than the convenience of not actually having to get up to change games. If that's the only attraction, count me out. No resale value, no sharing titles with whatever friends you choose, eating up more hard drive space, and if the internet providers ever get their way and force us gamers to pay more for the bandwidth we use, forget it. No thank you digital. I'm ok getting up to change a disc.

+ Show (7) more repliesLast reply 1739d ago
Mikelarry1740d ago (Edited 1740d ago )

Ms might have been thinking of the "future" but right now the infrasturcue for an all digital future is not mass market enough to go down that route, even if the infrastruture were there why cant there be options to have both digital and physical copies. its strange that this is the only industry that pushing for digital or nothing.

also price.. PRICE we have yet to see any evidence of digital games costing less since we are not paying for hard copies of games anymore untill this happens digital will be a barrier that will not have mass market appeal

zeusky1740d ago

"its strange that this is the only industry that pushing for digital or nothing."

its cropping up in other industries. several laptops are made without disc drives nowadays. not to mention netflix and the like.

Kayant1740d ago

Even if they were (Which I think they weren't) there is some big oversights that doesn't go with their plans.

Xbox one has no preload functionality at the moment.

500GB with 362GB of usable space is not enough considering the game sizes for some games.

There's also the fact that external HDD support is not available yet.

The not so recent price raise of their exclusives in the UK store doesn't really help in supporting their vision.

The bandwidth requirements and things like DR3's 13GB patch shows that the infrastructure and ISP's plans is just not there yet for the majority of people and forcing a DD only route isn't ready yet.

The pre-order digital bonuses being on par with the retail copies they had with their launch titles with nice.

TheEnigma3131740d ago

For me, digital is only good for pc.

MelvinTheGreat1740d ago

Yes, everyone who says otherwise is wrong. Look at steam best way to get games. When xbox and MS try to do the same thing everyone loses their mind, because they are all misinformed. Sad the industry could be going forward and instead it stands still...

Ittoryu1740d ago

Let me know how good it is when your data cap is enforced and your internet bill triples.

MelvinTheGreat1740d ago

Funny cause i generally only download, 1 game every two months. No one is going to be on a buying spree and download 10 games a-month

N81740d ago

The thing is they have shown that they won't do the same thing. The closes thing to steam on consoles you have is PS plus.

Kryptix1740d ago (Edited 1740d ago )


"Look at steam best way to get games."

That's because Steam offers massive discounts. Microsoft didn't mention they were going to lower the price with their digital route.

"Funny cause i generally only download, 1 game every two months."

So does that means you buy your games in a physical format? Or does that mean you don't really support the digital route anyway so why should this pertain to you?

"Sad the industry could be going forward and instead it stands still..."

Well, you only download one game every two months which means you're somehow at fault with that if you think that supporting physical formats somehow means the industry stands still.

"No one is going to be on a buying spree and download 10 games a-month"

You're highly mistaken unless you're just another casual thinking that you matter to the industry. You barely have a part in it.