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February 06, 2013

New Xbox Console to Destroy Used Game Market

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

One of the great concerns around the next generation of console gaming was that they wouldn't even bother with discs at all, but rather get all their games straight off the Internet. The concept of digital distribution is one that's desired by game companies that doesn't sit so well with large portions of the country that doesn’t have the kind of Internet access required. But now, new word has emerged that says that while discs will still be in play, used discs won't be.

In fact, sources with first-hand experience provided a bit of information on the technical specs which seems to line up nicely with earlier reports. Set to show up will be an AMD eight-core x64 processor running at 1.6 GHz, eight gigabytes of DDR3 RAM (News - Alert) and an 800 MHz graphics card, along with a Blu-ray player and a hard drive of a yet undetermined size. Close to what we've heard already from one source or another, granted, but what's also being said is much less encouraging.

The next Xbox is said to require a continuous Internet connection in order to work, which will pretty much take out the secondhand game market. New games will require one-time-only activation codes. This in turn will do damage to not only used game vendors like Gamestop, but also to video game rental services like GameFly and stores like Family Video that handle game rentals. This move also renders consoles useless for offline gaming, and those without high-end Internet connections will find themselves simply unable to play.

Naturally, this move is meeting with a lot of skepticism. Why would Microsoft (News - Alert) deliberately hobble its own system, virtually guaranteeing new traffic for Sony? All Sony would have to do is not put such a system in place and it would gain the favor of the used game crowd, of the game rental crowd, and anyone without a decent Internet connection. Of course, some game makers may decide not to do business with Sony in such an event. Yet, given the audience that Sony already enjoys, the chance that game makers who are already having difficulty in getting enough sales made for triple-A gaming to really prosper would voluntarily remove themselves from consideration would be slim at best.

About the only way this makes sense for Microsoft falls under two conditions. One, the developers are demanding it, and two; they're demanding it of everybody. If enough game makers got together and put out all or nothing ultimatums about just who they'd be doing business with without the conditions in place, that might make things hot enough for Sony and Microsoft to play ball. After all, a console without games is a fancy paperweight. And games without a console don't do much better either, so Sony and Microsoft would have to be getting something out of the deal too.

It's important to remember here, however, that reports that aren't directly from the company should be taken with the appropriately sized grain of salt. This one in particular has been around for a year or more in one form or another. While this report may very well be accurate, after the uproar that would likely accompany such a move, it may well be removed in the final stages. There's still plenty of time to go before these hit shelves and plenty of time before they even get revealed for that matter, so the reports today might not be the still be the truth come release day.

Edited by Jamie Epstein
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