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Microsoft has decided to reverse course on their controversial DRM requirements that have drawn heavy criticism from gamers and the media alike. Microsoft has confirmed reports by other media outlets that the 24-hour check-in policy has been dropped, along with various other changes.
Microsoft probably explains it best:
So, today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. Here is what that means:
An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games - After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today - There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.
In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console - there will be no regional restrictions.
GameStop has officially stopped accepting pre-orders for the upcoming Xbox One because they have hit their limit. What's interesting about this is that it shows that Microsoft may not be having too much of an issue selling the Xbox One, despite numerous issues raised by the media and still unanswered by Microsoft. GameStop is still taking pre-orders for the PlayStation 4, however.
So, is the Xbox One truly that hot of a commodity? It would appear that it's not. Microsoft has given way fewer allocations to the individual stores than Sony has given PS4 allocations. For instance, one store that received just 16 Xbox One units also received 60 PlayStation 4 units. It's not clear whether Microsoft is facing supply issues or if they are attempting to make the illusion that the Xbox One is popular.
If you are interested in getting the Xbox One, GameStop will no longer accept pre-orders unless they receive a larger allocation. You might want to get your pre-order in with someone who still has units while they still have those units.
Sony recently released a firmware patch for its PlayStation 3 console. Normally this is not too noteworthy, but this latest patch is rendering the consoles dead in the water. Sony has taken the patch down, but just in case do not download any update or patches with a version number of 4.45.
The patch was originally supposed to add support for turning off achievements and trophy notifications, however after updating and rebooting, many users found that their PS3 would no longer boot into the main menu of the console. A smaller portion of users reported that they were not able to even turn off the box after the update and the only option was to pull the power cable.
Sony has released a statement to address users who have been affected by the problem:
"We are aware of reports that the recent PlayStation 3 system software update (version 4.45) has caused the XMB to not display on a small number of PS3 systems. We have temporarily taken 4.45 offline and are investigating the cause of the problem. We will announce when the system update is available for download as soon as possible. We apologise for the inconvenience."
The video game industry continues to flounder ahead of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 going on sale later this year. Data from NPD Group shows that retail sales of hardware, software, and gaming accessories fell around 25 percent to $386.3 million during May.
Also included in the data is the fact that the Nintendo 3DS outsold the Xbox 360, making it the top selling platform across hardware and portables. Software sales for the 3DS were up 60 percent year-over-year.
Despite poor sales, Nintendo has said that it has no plans to drop the price of the Wii U.
Likely as another shot at Microsoft, Sony has confirmed that PS Plus will not be required for PlayStation 4 users interested in using the social aspects, entertainment apps, or auto-updates. Xbox 360 users will know that Xbox Live Gold is required for Netflix, Hulu, and social aspects of the console.
It's possible that streaming PlayStation 3 games to the PS4 may require PS Plus, but it seems like that is still up in the air. Unlike the PlayStation 3 which required PS Plus for automatic updates, PlayStation 4 users will find that they get this feature for free.
It seems like some of the PS Plus details for the PlayStation 4 are still under discussion inside the company and are subject to change. This would explain why Sony has detailed the system and PS Plus fully. PS Plus will apply across the PlayStation 3 and 4 for no extra charge.
The true next-gen consoles were fully unveiled in the last couple of weeks in the form of Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One, but Nintendo's Wii U is still here, right now - but sales aren't doing well.
Gamers have been hoping for Nintendo to drop the price on the Wii U, but during an interview with VentureBeat last week, Nintendo marketing executive Scott Moffit said that Nintendo have "no plans to change the price of the Wii U." He added that the Wii U is "great value" for gamers, expecting sales to increase once some shiny new Nintendo games are released - such as Mario, Zelda and Super Smash Bros.
Microsoft has taken to the web to defend its $499 price point for the upcoming Xbox One. Many have faulted Microsoft's price point as it is $100 more than the PlayStation 4, which is believed to have more powerful hardware and fewer drawbacks such as always-on DRM requirements.
We're over-delivering value against other choices I think consumers can get. Any modern product these days, you look at it: $499 isn't a ridiculous price point. We're delivering thousands of dollars of value to people, so, I think they're going to love [the console] when they use it.
I'm not fully versed in the economics of the console market, but it's possible that an extra $100 might not be enough to turn away customers. Also an important factor in console choice is what games each console has as exclusives. Microsoft has an uphill battle ahead of them.
Microsoft has confirmed that games for the upcoming Xbox One will continue to cost the usual $60 that everyone has become accustomed to. This is the same price that Sony plans to offer games at. Of course, this price is only confirmed for first-party games developed by Microsoft Studios.
I can confirm that Microsoft Studios games on Xbox One will be $59.99 (MSRP)
Sony America CEO Jack Tretton: "We're going to welcome free-to-play models, games from $.99 up to those $60 games."
It would be hard for third-party companies to price their games higher, though it certainly is possible. Microsoft is in need of some good press with many seeing the Windows giant as having lost the console wars. Microsoft will continue needing good press in the lead up to the Xbox One launch later this year.
I think the line in the sand has been drawn with next-gen consoles, but just how far back as Microsoft been pushed? Well, according to a poll run by Amazon on their Facebook page, Microsoft are really losing this war, by a long shot.
They asked readers which next-gen console they prefer, the PS4 or the Xbox One and the results are absolutely huge. The PS4 has 31,689 votes and the Xbox One has just 1,754 votes - yes that is not a mistake. Of course, this doesn't mean that the PS4 is going to be 20x more popular, or make 20x the sales - but this is an interesting statistic. This doesn't mean the Xbox One is finished, but it'll be interesting to see where things sit in a couple of years from now.
All I know is that I would've bought an Xbox One on launch if there was a killer app, but nothing I've seen makes me want one. The built-in Kinect sensor being always-on kind of turns me off, and isn't something I want sitting in my house. I like that Sony at least gives you the option, which is definitely the right move.
The final box art for the next-gen consoles has been released by Microsoft and Sony. It doesn't look too bad at all, but I think Microsoft can at least have props for having the better box art this generation. First up, we have the Xbox One box:
Not bad, eh? Nice and to the point, with a great shot of the controller on the side. The PlayStation 4 box art we have below:
I think we have a lot of wasted space on the left side - and just a quick tease of the console. I'd really like to see an up-close shot of the PS4 instead of the floating shapes. Oh well, that's not my job now, is it? What are your thoughts on the box art of the next-gen consoles?