As I am sure you are aware, the next Xbox console is all but confirmed to be only usable online. Likewise, I am most definitely not the first to tell you that this poses a problem for the many people in the world without high-speed Internet. In the U.S. alone, approximately one third of people lack broadband. However, even if you ignore these figures, requiring an Internet connection to play your single and multiplayer games will still be problematic. Consider the recent SimCity debacle. Now, imagine your entire console game system acting in the same manner. Having trouble? Here’s a picture to help.
Suppose that the servers do work 99.9% of the time. Even then, you should still be concerned. I know this is going out on a limb, but what if Microsoft goes out of business? Will you lose access to all of your games? It’s unlikely that a defunct company will have someone still managing their servers indefinitely.
The other matter to consider is what happens when the console after the next comes out. Just look at what Microsoft did to the original Xbox. If you want to re-download your original Xbox Live Arcade games and downloadable content, you can’t. Some people, albeit a small audience, actually paid money for their content. Unless they still have their downloaded files on their Xbox’s hard drive, they are S.O.L. and up the river without a paddle.
What I’m getting at is that, if the next Xbox (or any console) goes online-only, in ten years or so, you may not be able to play your games ever again. This is not the case with PC gaming because newer hardware is generally backwards compatible, sometimes requiring a few additions to the coding of the game (if any at all). Also, Steam, the most popular seller of digital PC games, has confirmed that they will allow you to play your games offline if they ever went out of business. With the ease of backing up computer files, compared to accessing the files on the Xbox line’s proprietary hard drives, I feel much more confident that I will be able to play my computer games in ten years. There’s also the matter of virtual machines that will let me go back to an older operating system. This would be especially helpful if (hypothetically) Microsoft goes bankrupt and leaves the world with the choice of switching to Linux or or using an outdated operating system.
If the rumors are true, stick with the PlayStation 4, Wii U, PC, 3DS, or even the underdog PlayStation Vita for your modern gaming fix because, as the design documents have shown, Microsoft is poised to be very anti-consumer. Vote with your wallet and help preserve gaming for years to come.