Will the days of taking your video game to a friend's house or trading it in for another soon be over?
Edge magazine has posted a report indicating Microsoft could be moving forward with an Internet-based business model for its next Xbox game console, which has been code-named "Durango." According to the report, games that are produced for the system will require an online connection and an activation code that will align players on that particular console.
Activation codes are nothing new in the gaming world; a number of third-party publishers require them for online play with their titles. Electronic Arts started this trend years ago with its sports games, and with action games soon afterward. Its latest release, "Dead Space 3," requires such a code if you want to play cooperatively with a friend online.
However, Microsoft's approach is a bit different. The report indicates that a continuous online connection would be needed for the games to run. By contrast, the company's current system, the Xbox 360, lets users play offline – say, when taking their console to a game competition or a friend's house.
Among other impacts, this business choice could have a huge effect on the used-game market. Shops that specialize in sales of secondhand games, where customers trade them in or sell them for cash, could feel the crunch. In particular, GameStop, a highly popular brand of game stores, might be threatened with a huge business drop-off.
Also, there is network security to consider. What would happen with games being played on the next Xbox console when the network is down? Or, for that matter, what if someone hacks into it, forcing the company to take it down and restructure it? That's happened before: Sony had to "fix" its PlayStation Network following a data breach in April 2011, leaving it down for just over a month. What would that do with the Durango?
Despite such issues, Microsoft may not be the only company considering the move. Sony, which will likely be announcing its next console at an event later this month, previously submitted a patent application for an "Electronic Content Processing System" and "Use Apparatus." The technology would link individual game discs with matched user accounts, so they couldn't play on other systems. [See also: Is It Too Soon for a PlayStation 4? ]
Do keep in mind this is rumor at the moment, as neither company has confirmed using such technologies with their system models. If they do, however, it may change the way some of you play – and not entirely for the better.