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It's not just the German government, but now the Civil Liberties Australia privacy group is concerned over the Xbox One
A story I wrote on the German government concerned over the Xbox One being a monitoring device blew up over the last 24 hours, and it seems like they aren't the only ones that are worried about the always-watching, always-listening Xbox One.
Now the head of the Civil Liberties Australia has said that the Kinect voice and video features on the Xbox One make it a "surveillance device" in people's homes. Gizmodo's Luke Hopewell says "Come on. Really?!" as if people who think that are paranoid, but the Xbox One is an always-on, always listening and watching device. The Xbox One's Kinect sensor is infrared, which means blocking it with some tape won't work, and you can't block it's microphone at all.
If worrying about the Xbox One watching, listening and feeling every movement of your body - with the German government even worried about it - then there's something else to worry about: the Xbox One will be region locked.
In a world of digital media, I don't see why the Xbox One should be region locked, but it will be according to a Microsoft representative who confirmed the news with Digital Trends. The Microsoft rep said: "Similar to the movie and music industry, games must meet country-specific regulatory guidelines before they are cleared for sale. We will continue to work with our partners to follow these guidelines with Xbox One".
I'm disappointed with this region locking news, as it means here in Australia I can be charged $100 for a game that is sold elsewhere in the world for $30. Microsoft, just what are you thinking?
Sony appears to be trying to woo indie developers, or at least one indie developer in particular. Sony has sent Markus Persson, the creator of Minecraft, a VIP invitation to the company's E3 press conference along with a golden PSone. Sony also included a free copy of Dungeon Master 2.
Persson tweeted, "Sony also once sent me an original copy of Dungeon Master 2 they had lying around for some reason. They sure know how to bribe nerds. ;D" We're fairly confident that Sony took notice of Persson's complaints about the Xbox and Microsoft locking down the once-open Windows platform.
It's somewhat likely that Sony has some big indie developer news planned for their E3 press conference. Having the Minecraft creator there to see the news and hopefully tweet about it could be huge for Sony. Whatever Sony's plan is, we'll be at TweakTown to cover all the PlayStation 4 news you could possibly want.
A Sony employee has responded to rumors that the PlayStation 4 might implement some sort of DRM to prevent used games from being played by saying that the company hears the users. "Humbled by the outpouring of passionate PlayStation fans and their willingness to talk to us directly. Please know that we hear you," said Sony Computer Entertainment America's Nick Accordino.
Players want Sony to avoid a similar DRM scheme to that rumored to be implemented by Microsoft and the new Xbox One which requires gamers or retailers to pay an activation fee to play a used game. Sony has remained quite quiet about used games. "We are just now announcing the basic vision and strategy of PS4 and will have more information to share regarding used games later this year. But PlayStation has a long history of keeping its gamers happy and we won't make decisions that damage our relationship with them."
It sounds unlikely that PlayStation 4 would implement a DRM to prevent used games. In fact, both systems are confirmed to support used games, but the details are still unknown. We'll likely learn more from both Microsoft and Sony at E3 in just a few weeks. TweakTown will be there covering the event and you can expect to see lots of Xbox and PlayStation news.
This morning we are learning more about the cloud network that will accompany the Xbox One console. The Xbox One's cloud network will feature three consoles worth of storage and CPU processing power, for each connected device. This means that developers have a much larger canvas on which to build on.
The information comes via Jeff Henshaw, Microsoft's group program manager of Xbox Incubation and Prototyping, who recently revealed the cloud network specifications in a recent interview with OXM. "For every Xbox One console we're provisioning the CPU and storage equivalent of three Xbox Ones on the cloud," Henshaw revealed in a recent interview with OXM.
"We're doing that flat out so that any game developer can assume that there's roughly three times the resources immediately available to their game, so they can build bigger, persistent levels that are more inclusive for players. They can do that out of the game." Henshaw continued.
So, what does this mean for game developers? For one, it means that games can have a more extensive online UI, or maybe when you purchase a game, you can add the game's soundtrack to your personal cloud storage. It will most definitely allow users to store their capture gameplay video and maybe even streaming of those videos to personal web pages. All of that is speculation on my part though, and we will have to wait for more information before more is known.
Here at TweakTown, we're bringing you every latest bit of information on the next-gen consoles, as that is going to be the war of all wars for technology in the coming years. We've seen the Xbox One unveiling event, written an article asking just what was Microsoft thinking, and had a massive article reporting that EA's Vice President said that the PS4 and Xbox One are a generation ahead of the fastest gaming PC on the planet.
What can trump all of this? The German government coming out and stating that the Xbox One is a monitoring device. The Federal Data Protection Commissioner for Berlin, Peter Schaar, has said "Under the heading, game device 'Microsoft pushes a monitoring device in the market. The Xbox continuously records all sorts of personal information about me. Reaction rates, my learning or emotional states. The are then processed on an external server, and possibly even passed on to third parties."
Microsoft is "confident" that the new Xbox One won't suffer from the same Red Ring of Death problem that the Xbox 360 originally suffered from. This is good news for gamers who suffered at the hands of the RRoD as it was frustrating and often just months after purchase.
Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft Studios, says that Microsoft learned a lot from the Xbox 360 launch and put it towards future Xbox products. He notes how the Xbox 360 Slim, or Trinity, had a very low rate of failure.
The last Xbox was Trinity [Xbox 360 Slim] and our success rate on Trinity was very high. We learned a ton from the 360 launch and we took care of our customers with the extended warranty, but I think Trinity is telling. Xbox One is built by the same Trinity team with the same learning that went from Xbox 360 into Trinity, and I'm confident in the quality of the new box.
There is still quite a bit that the general public doesn't know about the Xbox One. More details regarding the console should continue to show up ahead of its launch, which will likely take place towards the end of 2013. We'll find out more on June 10 at Microsoft's E3 briefing.
It looks as though Microsoft may charge retailers a fee to resell used games rather than users themselves. According to reports by Eurogamer and MCV, retailer will be required to pay a fee in order to sell traded-in games as used games. A cut of that fee will go to Microsoft and the rest will go to the publisher.
Once a game is marked as 'traded-in', it will wipe it from the user's account and console. This could explain the need for the Xbox One to connect to the Internet once every 24 hours. The specific fee isn't known as of yet and Microsoft could vary it per game or depending on how it's received by the market.
This will inevitably raise the price paid for used games or reduce the price paid for trade-ins. Likely, it will do both. Microsoft still has time to change the system, though we are still waiting for the full details. We probably won't get those until closer to the console's launch.