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Both Sony and Microsoft are coming out with new versions of their videogame consoles this holiday season.
Microsoft announced its new console, the Xbox One.
Gamers hated two things about it…
- It has to be hooked up to the Internet to work.
- Due to anti-piracy software (called DRM for digital rights management), the Xbox One will require gamers to pay an extra fee to play used games. Users also can't swap or borrow games without paying a fee.
So, when Sony announced its new console, the PS4, a few weeks later, the company made a big deal out of how its console didn't require an Internet connection and how gamers could play swapped, borrowed, or used games.
Sony's ploy worked, and gamers went nuts over the PS4.
Meanwhile, gamers are also really excited about a third platform called Steam. Steam makes an online store where gamers can download games straight to their PCs. Eventually it's going to come out with its own PC/console called the Steam Box.
How have Microsoft executives and engineers taken the news?
Last week, someone claiming to be a Microsoft Xbox engineer got into a long conversation about the whole saga on Internet message board 4chan.
We've pasted the transcript below. We picked it up from a site called Pastebin.
Unfortunately, the self-described Microsoft engineer refused to identify himself or herself, other than to say: "I work in Studio A, 40th ave in Redmond, Wa. The Thai place in the studio cafeteria has double punch Wednesdays."
So, obviously, read the transcript with some amount of skepticism.
If you'd rather skip reading the whole thing, here are some highlights of what this person said:
- On the anti-piracy software : "We suck at telling the story. The whole point of the DRM switch from disc based to cloud based is to kill disc swapping, scratched discs, bringing discs to friends house, trade-ins for shit value with nothing going back to developers, and high game costs. If you want games cheaper then 59.99, you have to limit used games somehow … O n steam you get a game for the true cost of the game, 5$-30$. On a console you have to pay for that PLUS any additional licenses for when you sell / trade / borrow / etc. If the developer / publisher can't get it on additional licenses (like steam), then they charge the first person more.
- On how Xbox one has to connect to the Internet: " Really the majority of people have a speck of internet at least once a day. And if you don't. Don't buy an Xbox 1. Just like if you didn't have a broadband connection don't get Live, and if you don't have an HDTV the 360 isn't that great for you either. New tech, new req. This allows us to do cool shit when we can assume things like you have a Kinect, you have internet, etc. … [If] the internet goes out but you have power for TV and Xbox. Yes, You're f---ed for single player games. Again, that's the PoR (Plan of record), but I expect it to change after the e3 clusterf---.
- On which console you should buy: " Honestly, if you care about anything other then pure games AT ALL. Xbox 1 > PS4. If all you do is play games, and nothing else, PS4.
Here is the transcript. Each bullet point is a response to a question someone asked the supposed Microsoft engineer:
- The thing is we suck at telling the story. The whole point of the DRM switch from disc based to cloud based is to kill disc swapping, scratched discs, bringing discs to friends house, trade-ins for shit value with nothing going back to developers, and high game costs. If you want games cheaper then 59.99, you have to limit used games somehow. Steam's model requires a limited used game model.
- The thing is, the DRM is really really similar to steam... You can login anywhere and play your games, anyone in your house can play with the family xbox. The only diff is steam you have to sign in before playing, and Xbox does it automatically at night for you (once per 24 hours)
- It's a long tail strategy, just like steam. Steam had it's growing pains at the beginning with all it's drm shit as well. [...] For digital downloads steam had no real competition at the time, they were competing against boxed sales. At the time people were pretty irate about steam, (on 4chan too...) It was only once they had a digital marketplace with DRM that was locked down to prevent sharing that they could do super discounted shit.
- Think about it, on steam you get a game for the true cost of the game, 5$-30$. On a console you have to pay for that PLUS any additional licenses for when you sell / trade / borrow / etc. If the developer / publisher can't get it on additional licenses (like steam), then they charge the first person more. [...] If we say "Hey publishers, you limit game to 39.99, we ensure every license transfer you get 10$, GameStop gets 20$" that is a decent model... Microsoft gets a license fee on first and subsequent game purchases, compared to just first now? That's a revenue increase.
- Competition is the best man, it helps drive both to new heights. See technology from the Cold War. If we had no USSR, we'd be way worse off today. TLDR: Bring it on Steam :)
- Yeah we passed that around the office at Xbox. Most of us were like "Well played Sony, Well played". That being said they are just riding the hype train of ZOMG THEY ARE TRYING TO f--- US FOR NO REASON. Without actually thinking about how convenient it would be for the majority of the time to not find that disc your brother didn't put back... [...] just simpleminded people not seeing the bigger picture. Some PS4 viral team made them all "U TOOK R DISCS" and they hive-minded.
- Everyone and their mother complains about how gamestop f---s them on their trade ins, getting 5$ for their used games. We come in trying to find a way to take money out of gamestop, and put some in developers and get you possibly cheaper games and everyone bitches at MS. Well, if you want the @#$@ing from GameStop, go play PS4.
- The goal is to move to digital downloads, but Gamestop, Walmart, Target, Amazon are KIND OF f---ING ENTRENCHED in the industry. They have a lot of power, and the shift has to be gradual. Long term goal is steam for consoles. [...] If you always want to stay with what you have, then keep current consoles, or a PS4. We're TRYING to move the industry forwards towards digital distribution... it'sa bumpy road
- Publishers have enormous power. Microsoft is trying to balance between consumer delight, and publisher wishes. If we cave to far in either direction you have a non-starting product. WiiU goes too far to consumer, you have no 3rd party support to shake a stick at. PS4 is status-quo. XB1 is trying to push some things, at the expense of others. We have a vision, we'll see if it works in the coming years
- Living room transformation. We want to own the living room. Every living room TV with an XBox on input one. It's the thing that gives the signal to your TV, everything is secondary. The future, where games, TV, internet telephony, all that shit happens magically on some huge ass screen with hand / voice gestures... That's our goal.
- Google TV + PS4 + Minority report level gestures, that combined with a sick second screen experience (which is really hot for TV, I know I know.. tv tv tv tv tv... but it's f---ing sick when you have it). Games will be the same, there are more exclusives to MS then PS atm, and Kinect 2 makes Kinect 1 look like a childs toy.
- >By default it's on, listening for "Xbox On". You can turn it off tho, and turn the console like OFF off. OFF off is required for Germany / other countries that require it (no vampire appliances) [...] It has to be plugged in for the console to post. You can turn off everything it does from the settings. Think of it like airplane mode for the iPhone. You can't just unplug the cellular radio, but you can turn it off.
- Instead of 10mins, is 24hrs for your console, and 1 or 2 at a friends house. Really the majority of people have a speck of internet at least once a day. And if you don't. Don't buy an Xbox 1. Just like if you didn't have a broadband connection don't get Live, and if you don't have an HDTV the 360 isn't that great for you either. New tech, new req. This allows us to do cool shit when we can assume things like you have a Kinect, you have internet, etc.
- Current plan is basically you're f---ed after 24 hours. Yeah... I know. Kind of sucks. I believe they will probably revisit the time period and / or find a diff way to "call in" to ensure you haven't sold your license to gamestop or something... but there is no plan YET. I'm hoping the change it, but I don't work on that so I don't have much influence there /sigh
- If the power goes out you ain't playing shit. I'm assuming you mean the internet goes out but you have power for TV and Xbox. Yes, You're f---ed for single player games. Again, that's the PoR (Plan of record), but I expect it to change after the e3 clusterf---
- What fee? There is no fee to play your games at your friends house. Never has, never will. Even x360 digital downloads could do that.
- The cloud capabilities is the shit they like the most. We basically made a huge cloud compute shit and made it free. What people are doing with it is kind of cool. THe original intention was to get all the Multiplayer servers not requiring 3rd party costs (Like EA shutting down game servers to cut costs), as well as taking all the games that servers hosted by the clients (Halo, etc), and have all that compute done in the cloud allowing more CPU cycles for gameplay. That will really expand what developers can do. Anything that doesn't need per frame calculation and can handle 100ms delays can be shifted to the cloud. That's huge.
- SmartGlass + IE is going to be pretty freaking sweet. 1 finger cursor, 2 finger direct manip. Basically if you think of a laptop trackpad where your phone/ slate is the trackpad and the monitor is your TV... it's that. The tech is there, just needs to be applied. There is some really cool shit going on with Petra + controllers that pairs people with controllers. So if person with controller two trades controllers with controller 1, their profiles magically switch. It's sick. What does this matter? Now if you lean left/right it knows which person is leaning, even if 4 people are all int he same room. It's awesome.
- New service using Azure for cloud compute. Allows developers to not use clients for hosting multiplayer servers, or other tasks that do not require per frame calculations. It's pretty sweet.
- Honestly, if you care about anything other then pure games AT ALL. Xbox 1 > PS4. If all you do is play games, and nothing else, PS4.
- It's not worth my time to prove it, or risk my Job. I work in Studio A, 40th ave in Redmond, Wa. The Thai place in the studio cafeteria has double punch Wednesdays. Go ahead and call them and verify if you want.
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