Friday, May 31, 2013

Xbox One Region Locked?

In a statement to Digital Trends, a Microsoft rep confirmed that the Xbox One would be region locked in some capacity: “Similar to the movie and music industry, games must meet country-specific regulatory guidelines before they are cleared for sale.” What this means isnt entirely clear and Microsoft has declined to elaborate. Im pretty sure they wouldnt do something so stupid as to region lock all of Xbox Live, but it seems that all games will be region locked in some capacity.

Whether that means just NTFS vs PAL like we have now, or something much more sinister is yet to be determined. If Microsoft were to decree that all games for the Xbox One cannot support cross region play, that would be the tipping point that would cause me to absolutely not buy the console. What they should do is mandate that while all games are sold as region specific, cross region play must be supported. As it stands now, this decision is usually left to the developer, but this often leads to the huge mistake of a region locked game you cannot play across the pond.

Furthermore, especially for older games, having the ability to play with people from around the world is essential. Sure, when Virtua Tennis 3 was brand spanking new, it could have been supported by a community of just American players. But now, some 6 years after it was released, it simply would not still have an online community at all were it not for inter-region play. There is a certain threshold of minimum number of players for online games, and once it falls below that, a tipping point is reached and the remaining player base just gives up on ever trying to find a match and all online play evaporates.

Finally, its pretty cool that Bond and I get to play VT3 doubles against teams not just in the USA, but the entire world. Playing with gamers from Japan, Korea, France, Spain, and the UK makes online play for VT3 so much more rewarding, because it makes the overall quality of play so much higher - even if the connection quality isnt always quite as great as we would like it to be. "Let, first service" is commonly heard when the game lags. But the players deal with it, give back a point if necessary, and play on.

So please Microsoft, let us gamers deal with the bits of lag, and play on if we want to. It should be our right as gamers to determine if a match is too laggy to play - not the right of a developer, publisher, or console manufacturer.


umo said...

I remember Army of Two doing that and yet somehow it managed to spawn 2 sequels. Germany and Australia have particular laws that require changes to games to meet their violence/mature ratings, so they get special versions.

You won't have to worry about region locked multiplayer because Microsoft are only interested in the US market, so everyone else in the rest of the world will be playing Playstation or PC games.

The way Halo 4 treated anyone outside the US was the final slap in the face for some. I got the message loud and clear. I don't want to watch TV through it, I wouldn't be able to when the system launches anyway, it will only be available in the US. All those features in that announcement were for US people really.

I don't need voice activated, camera controlled menus. I can use the best controller around to do what I need quicker and more accurately. I don't need an always connected data mining device to harvest data, to try and better manipulate me into buying things from ads. I don't need a quarter of my screen taken up with Internet Explorer.

umo said...

What if Microsoft need them always connected because they'll be using them as the biggest Bitcoin farm in the world?

It makes business sense, maybe they just haven't thought of it yet.

md said...

I'm pretty sure and somewhat sad to say that I've purchased my last console ever. I will keep my xbox as long as it lasts, but will be staying on PC indefinitely. I don't have enough reasons to do otherwise.

Darth said...

"The way Halo 4 treated anyone outside the US was the final slap in the face for some"

What did I miss?

umo said...

MS just put out some more info that only serves to bury the hatchet in themselves

Also at launch there is no renting or lending of games (discs). That just cannot happen. You can't sell them on ebay either.

You can GIVE a game that you bought on disc ONCE to someone who has been on your friends list for 30 days at least. Then that disc is just garbage.

You can have 10 family members who can share access to all your games from any console, but only one of them can use that access at once. Meanwhile you can play all your games on any console no matter what any other 'family member' is doing. (No mention if everyone has to have a gold account but I'd assume so if you can't even use IE without one now)

On your console anyone can play any game you own. That console has a 24hr window to connect to the xbox servers. Anyone, including you playing another xbox must connect every hour or the game will stop working.

etc.. Seeing that Microsoft were a founding member of the NSA's PRISM scheme only confirms my 1984 Big Brother monitoring analogy and this always on Kinect is still always on even if it's turned off. In the Privacy page on that site it says when it's turned off it will only listen out for "Xbox on". That still means it's on and listening, silly.

Darth: long story. Basically locking progression in multiplayer for Europe to level 50 while nearly everyone else could go to 120. Even ppl who bought the special Halo Console were locked at 50. Everyone in the UK was unless you preordered from one specific store.

It wasn't clear what the consequences would be. In US to unlock all you had to do was be signed into xbox live with the disc in your xbox pretty much. It ended with US people farming codes and selling them by the bunch to European ppl on ebay, meanwhile 343 stuck their head in the sand. Then when they finally said anything it was only, the levels will be gradually rolled out in the coming months following release.

US had access to Double XP too to further boost them up the ranks (unlocking abilities in multiplayer like 'not flinching while being shot' etc.) Those too were getting sold to Europeans at stupid prices on ebay

The actions were bad, clearly but the response or lack of from 343 was offensive to the point that I'm done with any more Halo they make. The game being so short lived helped too but they waved goodbye to a lot of customers with how they handled it.

md said...

If I have enough of a reason to buy another console, it will be a PS4, but that's only if they do not follow in MS's footsteps with the used games lock-down.

With that said, maybe games shouldn't be physical discs anymore. I love having ownership of the physical product, but if it were a digital-only delivery than what's to say that this is any different from Steam? The issue is that people aren't used to buying a game disc and being told it will be treating the same way a one-time download would be on Steam or Xbox Live.

I don't know, I'm a little torn. And slightly confused. I think.

umo said...

There are some European/UK laws designed to ensure the free trade of second hand items. In principal they take certain digital goods in the same light as just another delivery method of phsyical goods.

If you're going to use the archaic copyright laws and apply them to digital goods, even though there are not specific laws designed for digital goods, then you should be using other laws associated with those laws too.

There are also anti-monopoly laws that could come into effect if the ability to sell/trade games is shut down to 1 or 2 places and then prices are set super high.

If MS lawyers only care about the US laws and have worked with those then it's another sign how MS don't care about Europe so no reason Europe should care about them. In Japan it's pretty much all used games all the time as part of their gaming culture, and the 360 was hardly a big success there so they might as well not not release the Xbox One there.

Darth said...

Just get a Friggin WIIU with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. It's all you ever need and USA and EU servers have been merged.