E3 2013: Some final thoughts on the show and Xbox One

The Electronic Entertainment Expo is over for another year in Los Angeles. This year we saw Microsoft and Sony offer up more information on their next generation game consoles. Meanwhile Nintendo did what Nintendo always does; announce a ton of sequels to their previous franchises. At least Microsoft and Sony are trying to come up with some new games. Nintendo seems to be stuck in a rut on that front.

A quick history lesson: E3 2013 was my 17th visit to the trade show (yes, I am old). Yet, while there were certainly a lot of people who roamed the halls, the show itself felt smaller. I remember when the entire LA Convention Center had every square inch filled with exhibits. This year, the large South and West halls had big portions with no exhibits at all and the Kentia hall hasn't been used during E3 in years.

Part of the reason is that many large game publishers are no longer around, such as THQ, Midway, LucasArts and Atari. Other large companies simply don't show up anymore, such as Valve, NCSoft and others, and still others just have meeting rooms at E3, like Take Two Interactive.

As a result, I just have to wonder if a trade-only show like E3 needs to exist anymore. For a long time, E3 was important to get the word out on major game launches but now we live in an era where the Internet is an even faster way for publishers to let gamers know about their new releases. Not only that, but events such as the two US-based Penny Arcade Expo shows, which are open to the public, give publishers other ways to connect to their fans.

With the prospect of no new game console launches for a long time following the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, it could also serve as an excuse for other game publishers, even major ones like Microsoft, to decide not to attend E3 2014. In fact, I emailed Microsoft's PR reps to ask if Microsoft had made any decisions on that front but they would not comment.

Xbox One: The final word ... for now

In an editorial posted soon after Microsoft's E3 2013 press conference, I said that Microsoft needed to have a good explanation for the Xbox One to have an online requirement for playing games beyond 24 hours, as well as its restrictions for used game discs. Since then, Microsoft officials have tried to give their side of their argument, but in my opinion, they seem hollow.

"Microsoft needed to have a good explanation for the Xbox One to have an online requirement"

In a video interview with Microsoft's Xbox leader Don Mattrick, he suggested that the online requirement for playing games on the Xbox One was a "future-proof choice". However, as I have remarked before, the current Internet infrastructure in the US has a ton of problems that make a console with Microsoft's hardware setup inaccessible for many gamers.

Mattrick made matters worse when he said that people who want a console that doesn't require an Internet connection should just buy the eight year old Xbox 360.  Basically, he's saying, "You know that cool Halo game we showed a teaser trailer for on Monday for the Xbox One? If you don't have a good Internet connection, you are out of luck." This kind of arrogant attitude is not the way to market a new console, at least in my opinion.

As far as the used game disc situation, another interview with Microsoft's marketing chief for Xbox, Yusuf Mehdi, has him stating that the company is trying to get consumers to embrace the digital-only system for games, adding, " ... we believe digital is better".

Indeed, we think that digital will be better for games ... eventually. However, the mistake that Microsoft is making is forcing that digital game future a bit too soon when it should allow the marketplace to dictate when it will become viable. More and more people are buying books, movies, TV shows, comics and audio track via download, but none of those industries are pushing for their physical versions to have the kinds of restrictions that Microsoft is trying to do with the Xbox One game discs.

It reminds me on how TV makers tried a couple of years ago to make consumers embrace 3D televisions. Consumers, however, knew better than the TV industry that 3D televisions are not ready to be in most people's homes. No one wants to wear 3D glasses for hours on end to watch a football game or a marathon of TV shows.

Consumers are not ready for a full digital future for games. It will happen, but if Microsoft thinks that its Xbox One disc restrictions will make that future happen faster, I think they will be sorely disappointed.

Neowin's E3 2013 coverage is sponsored by Alienware

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Funny the people on here trying to spin this DRM as a positive. It's sad really, that so many are so willing to give up and roll over for the corporation.

Not at all, but you are not getting it. ALL Digital sales are DRM period. Once you download something from PSN or Nintendo, it is Digital Rights Management ready, that is the point.

You think you are on a crusade for freedom, while completely missing the point of digital sales and that is where the entire industry is going. Your entire crusade of freedom and negativity is all for nothing, because that is where everyone in the entire industry is going.

You are not going to stop it, you are not going to change it, you are not going to have any difference what-so-ever.


I'm ready for digital, all other media I have is digital I'm going all digital next gen. Thankfully I can just buy th console I want and not worry about how others feel about it on the internet. If the console I buy does not entertain me enough I can buy a different one. Choice is great thankfully even with all the fanboys raging we consumers do have choice in what we buy.

What's the point of taking away choice? If you WANT digital only, that's fine, just buy all your games off the online shop. But since when does that require you to STAY connected to play your games? On 360 and PS3, you can buy only games digitally if you choose, and you can go offline.

I have to agree. Though digital will be very nice in the end (one day), I don't think the market is ready for the requirement. ESPECIALLY if there isn't a significant savings... Why should we pay the same price when you no longer need the manufacturing, distribution, or retail costs?? But somehow I doubt games will be cheaper than their PS4 versions.

Games should become cheaper if you don't have the second hand business which only fills the pockets of Gamestop etc. instead of the games developers who make it possible. Currently the first buyer needs to couch up the dough to finance the future missed revenue stream. You should see more competitive price points when everyone is equally contributing to the games developers as you can see in comparable services like Steam. Sony clearly lacks the skills to set up a comparable DRM infrastructure and touts it as a victory for end users instead of what it truly is: more effort on the plate of games developers to prevent piracy and making sure everyone who is enjoying the game has paid for the intertainment.

"Consumers are not ready for a full digital future for games. It will happen, but if Microsoft thinks that its Xbox One disc restrictions will make that future happen faster, I think they will be sorely disappointed."

The 'disk restrictions' actually allow the benefits listed below:

No disk needed in the machine to play it (on PS4 if its a disk game, you need the disk)
Share your games with upto 10 friends and share their games - without needing to take the disk round or even be there - just one person can play at once is all
Buy on disk - redownload it next time if you want (disk scratched/lost - doesn't matter, YOU OWN THE GAME AND ITS LINKED TO YOUR LIVE ACCOUNT- FOREVER).

Think of it like this - you download the game OR buy a disk of the game, the system treats it the same and you get all the benefits of game sharing and trading no matter how you buy it. Some will like to buy the disk if they have slowish connections, I will like to download as I have 100Mbit - doesn't matter though as we all get the awesome benefits of game sharing.

In theory I'm not bothered about going digital. However, I will stick to discs for games until such times as Sony and Microsoft (and others) give their customers some rights. Been burned enough times with digital purchases where I basically have no recourse as a buyer and have to just accept I've wasted my money on a misrepresented or broken product. At least with a disc I can recoup some of my losses (or in some cases even return it for a refund). For me that is the key thing stopping me going download-only on titles. Oh, and prices. RRP? Reeeeaally?!

Specifically to the Xbox, I really don't get why they don't have it work in a more traditional mixed disc/digital setup, unless their intent was to limit consumers. Every so-called "benefit" of their system would still work if they also allowed you to play offline provided the disc is present. No disc? Have to be online. Got a disc? Can enjoy the game as long as the disc is in the machine. Best of both worlds.

That they didn't go this route makes me slightly paranoid of their true intent, what with some of their recent patents pertaining to the Kinect and its requirement.

Fourjays said,
In theory I'm not bothered about going digital. However, I will stick to discs for games until such times as Sony and Microsoft (and others) give their customers some rights. Been burned enough times with digital purchases where I basically have no recourse as a buyer and have to just accept I've wasted my money on a misrepresented or broken product. At least with a disc I can recoup some of my losses (or in some cases even return it for a refund). For me that is the key thing stopping me going download-only on titles. Oh, and prices. RRP? Reeeeaally?!

Specifically to the Xbox, I really don't get why they don't have it work in a more traditional mixed disc/digital setup, unless their intent was to limit consumers. Every so-called "benefit" of their system would still work if they also allowed you to play offline provided the disc is present. No disc? Have to be online. Got a disc? Can enjoy the game as long as the disc is in the machine. Best of both worlds.

That they didn't go this route makes me slightly paranoid of their true intent, what with some of their recent patents pertaining to the Kinect and its requirement.


at a guess, I'd say this (the no disk check for offline) decision is based on making the discless sharing work seem less and not confusing confusing to joe public. Lets be honest the vast majority have stable internet access.

Seems straight forward to me. All it needs is a message to the effect of "please insert the disc" when you try to play a game offline without the disc in the drive. Aside from that it could use the Internet. Doesn't effect the sharing at all. You either have the disc or you don't. If you don't, no offline play.

So simple I really don't get why they didn't do it that way, if it really is supposed to be an advantage.

Fourjays said,
Seems straight forward to me. All it needs is a message to the effect of "please insert the disc" when you try to play a game offline without the disc in the drive. Aside from that it could use the Internet. Doesn't effect the sharing at all. You either have the disc or you don't. If you don't, no offline play.

So simple I really don't get why they didn't do it that way, if it really is supposed to be an advantage.

I get what you are saying, but am at the same time trying to understand the reason - as there must be one.

when I say confusing to the user, I mean that if they did the disk check thing, then when using a friends game on your xbox (with 1 hour checks as its not your main console), your friend wouldn't have the disk, but also if the game itself was a digital download there would be no disk, so the end result is very different things happening based on a nu,mber of factors that the end user generally wouldn't pay any attention to but would end us frustrating them (some games ask for disk but I have no disk and MS know that, others don't ask for disk and stop working, sometimes after 1 hour sometimes after 1 day etc.) - it could lead to a lot of flaming forum threads and dissatisfied users based on unpredictable end results (predictable to me and you as we try to understand the systems and how they work, but most don't care for the technicalities and base their experience of 'how it works in the end'.

I went back and watched both the May 21st conference and the E3 conference for the second time. What I noticed more the second time around is that they are pushing the cloud for many titles that I didn't even know.

This is from my own memory...

o Halo 5
o Forza 5
o Sunset OverDrive
o Titanfall

This doesn't include the other things like the Halo TV Series using Kinect and the cloud.

I also wonder if I download the same game as a digital download instead of buying the disk, will I still need the 24 hour period since they know I downloaded it? Can I play the digital download offline, since they know that I bought it and installed it or will it block it? It seems like they should allow this. Yes, I know they would have said something, but Microsoft was never organized with answers and they are still vague.

That question seems unanswered for me.

Yogurtmaster said,
I went back and watched both the May 21st conference and the E3 conference for the second time. What I noticed more the second time around is that they are pushing the cloud for many titles that I didn't even know.

This is from my own memory...

o Halo 5
o Forza 5
o Sunset OverDrive
o Titanfall

This doesn't include the other things like the Halo TV Series using Kinect and the cloud.

I also wonder if I download the same game as a digital download instead of buying the disk, will I still need the 24 hour period since they know I downloaded it? Can I play the digital download offline, since they know that I bought it and installed it or will it block it? It seems like they should allow this. Yes, I know they would have said something, but Microsoft was never organized with answers and they are still vague.

That question seems unanswered for me.


yes i imagine it will be needed, as you can still share your games (with the upto 10 people). Also the check updates games, system etc. Silently so they are always upto date.

Let me tell you something. I now live in a Rural area in California. My town has 4 freeway exits and I can walk through my town in one hour and two hours both ways.

I can get 20 Megabits here with Comcast and It hasn't been down in four years.

If you have DSL, then get something else. Cable is a better product most of the time if you have a good modem. Most of the time that the Internet goes out, it is due to routers that need to be power cycled or sometime its the modem that you need to power cycle.

I can only have Docsis 2.0, most of the major cities can get Docsis 3.0 which gives you speeds up to 100 megabit.

IF you can't get Cable or DSL, then all you can get is satellite then that still should work to clear games, it will not work for online gaming. 3G or 4G is going to be better than satellite, however they usually have low bandwidth limits.

Wifi is readily available at most places as well. It's not rocket science kids. Online is not a big deal for 24 hours, sorry. If I can get it, most of the NA should get it too.

Yogurtmaster said,
Let me tell you something. I now live in a Rural area in California. My town has 4 freeway exits and I can walk through my town in one hour and two hours both ways.

I can get 20 Megabits here with Comcast and It hasn't been down in four years.

If you have DSL, then get something else. Cable is a better product most of the time if you have a good modem. Most of the time that the Internet goes out, it is due to routers that need to be power cycled or sometime its the modem that you need to power cycle.

I can only have Docsis 2.0, most of the major cities can get Docsis 3.0 which gives you speeds up to 100 megabit.

IF you can't get Cable or DSL, then all you can get is satellite then that still should work to clear games, it will not work for online gaming. 3G or 4G is going to be better than satellite, however they usually have low bandwidth limits.

Wifi is readily available at most places as well. It's not rocket science kids. Online is not a big deal for 24 hours, sorry. If I can get it, most of the NA should get it too.


This is so right, the 24 hour checkin is a tiny amount of data and will keep trying - if you connection comes backup for 1 minute or less its done.

It is the deal, they are asking that we must do something (forcefully) and instead we aren't getting nothing in compensation. The 24 hours works for MS (and EA) and not for the customer.

Anyways, the main problem is the stability of the service, MS is not popular because their service always on. You can count all the time that the XBL was out of service. So, no matter if you own a dedicated line, if XBL is out then also your console. For example, what's happened (and still happens) with Sim City 2013 and several other services.

Online is a big deal.

Also, exists other problems, for example, since it is online then, the console will be (initially) available in some countries (right now, Japan is out of the list). And, some services will not be available outside USA or will not work properly, such voice recognition. So, it will hurts the amount of customers and it will conclude with less games.

Brony said,
It is the deal, they are asking that we must do something (forcefully) and instead we aren't getting nothing in compensation. The 24 hours works for MS (and EA) and not for the customer.

Anyways, the main problem is the stability of the service, MS is not popular because their service always on. You can count all the time that the XBL was out of service. So, no matter if you own a dedicated line, if XBL is out then also your console. For example, what's happened (and still happens) with Sim City 2013 and several other services.

Online is a big deal.

Also, exists other problems, for example, since it is online then, the console will be (initially) available in some countries (right now, Japan is out of the list). And, some services will not be available outside USA or will not work properly, such voice recognition. So, it will hurts the amount of customers and it will conclude with less games.

nothing in compensation? Are you mad?

You can add upto 10 people to share your games with, and you share theirs, and you don't have to put disks in to play them. Think that through, instead of having to lend a friend a game by giving them a disk, they simply download and can play it whenever you aren't playing it and you can play theirs - because the system is setup to not need disks while also knowing who is playing the 1 licensed copy of the game.

Also you make arguments here based on 'other people' suffering or not being able to get the system at launch - as though it affects me or you?

How do I care if someone else cant use something to the point where it will effect the decision to get that product? That's like saying that other countries the 3g network isn't robust, so I wont get a smartphone because its not fair - jesus its like going fishing to find fault s to moan about.

Nothing about the X1 will have any effect on how I use games or the system other than bring benefits of game sharing (diskless sharing - which is miles better), diskless playing, and being able to download any game I have ever bought in the future (as all games link to my live account).

Also there is zero chance of less games on X1, most people out there will just get one if they have a 360 (because, you might be surprised by this, most people don't give a **** about these kinds of details).

Also the dev studios will love the DRM on the games, which will keep them coming.

Like the system or not, it will sell like hot cakes and no amount of tech forum based chit chat or polls will change this - because MOST people don't go on tech forums or give a **** about the tech details.

I agree that they should've shown us how things look and work on the system. A little walkthrough wouldn't have hurt but maybe they're sticking to this slow dribble of info till November approach.

So here we go.

You can still use disks
You can still lend/sell disks
You install ALL games and no longer need the disk (forever - you can download the game forever more on any system you sign into -steam like)
Any game you have can be shared with upto 10 people - you just cant play it at the same time, this is actually better IMO, as you wont need to take your disks with you once the game is installed on a friends X1
The 10 people sharing your games (and you sharing theirs) is a massive deal, and one I feel people aren't paying enough attention to. If you have 10 friends using X1 and each has lets say 2 unique games, then you ALL have access to 18 games you don't actually own but are allowed to play for free.
Xbox live gold sharing - everyone gets to play online on the houses X1 with just one gold pass - if you have a few wanting online in the family this becomes a lot cheaper than PS4 pretty quick.
And finally the issue most are seeming to be ****ed about, 24 hour checkin - come on folks, the amount of time people have spend online bitching about the checkin function clearly shows they have decent enough connections for ther X1 to make a simple ping like data transfer at any time within a 24 hour period and it pose absolutely zero issue. MS have already said there will be concessions made for serving military folks (something I have heard a few times).

I personally think the benefits of the DRM MS have added will far outweigh the negatives (I personally don't see a negative that will have any effect on me), I get to share my games and play them on all X1's that I sign in on and play my friends games as well, I can trade them easily enough, I can download them if my disk is ever damaged - for life, steam like. I can renew my gold sub only and everyone else in the house gets to play online with my games. Games can be started very fast due to them all being HDD installs with no disk required (on PS4 if its a disk game you will need to put the disk in), I can start the whole system (TV, Cable box etc) by just telling it to start up, change my TV channels, search TV with voice, start games with voice, blar blar blar - I think its one of those things that once people see the system in use and can see the benefits all this nonsense will die down.

I just want to rent games, with no time limit, as I always have, to save me money. I don't play online on my consoles, I usually play coop halo games locally. I do not watch my tv, I have netflix and hulu for that, I do not want to pay more to access the content I already have access to.

Explain how this system benefits me?

Also, quit comparing this to steam, when the xbone is dead in 6 or 7 years, and ms shuts down the 360 servers before that, I wont have access to these games.
With steam, the computer would have to be replaced to a brand new type of system to make it incompatible in the future, which isn't likely. Even if valve goes broke and NEEDS to shut down their services, I will know that they will release a patch to make steam work offline with no server backend at all. I do NOT see that assurance anywhere from microsoft.

SierraSonic said,
FUD

I guess it doesn't benefit you.
You would be better off with a game console, not an entertainment console.
There's a couple of companies that still make those.

You can still use disks
You can still lend/sell disks
You install ALL games and no longer need the disk (forever - you can download the game forever more on any system you sign into -steam like)

You can still lend/sell disks - This is half true. You CANNOT lend disks. You can only GIVE a game to a friend, one time, and that's it. They can't give it back to you, or anyone else. Thanks MS for giving us a feature NO ONE uses. Who just GIVES games away. If that's the case, MS, you should lead by example and GIVE everyone a copy of Halo 5 when it comes out.

You can't sell disks. All you can do, is trade them in to big-box retail stores. So instead of before, where you could get decent money by selling your game on craiglists/ebay, you are forced to accept pennies for your game at Gamestop, who then turns around and sells it $5 cheaper than retail.

(Would like to note, this can sorta be worked around. You could still sell a game on ebay, but then, you would have to add that person on Xbox Live, and they would have to wait 30 days to be on your friends list, and then you could 'Gift' it to them)


Points 1 & 3 are contradictory. Why would you want to use disks, if you can just install them and not use them anymore.

Instead of a 24-hour check-in, why not just tell the user if they are offline, then they must use the disk (after 24 hours) to play the game. That is at least better than telling them they can't play the game at all.

SierraSonic said,

Even if valve goes broke and NEEDS to shut down their services, I will know that they will release a patch to make steam work offline with no server backend at all. I do NOT see that assurance anywhere from microsoft.

And why can't Microsoft do the same? release a patch for the console when its at the end of it's lifecycle, they are much more capable of providing a patch like that.

Hmm!! for the after 24hr check in process you do not need to have a Gold account, so therefore you do need to pay extra, you can game offline, play Halo co-op. About renting games, you can't rent games at launch but an official quote from Microsoft "Loaning or renting games won't be available at launch, but we are exploring the possibilities with our partners. " http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/license

greensabath said,

Instead of a 24-hour check-in, why not just tell the user if they are offline, then they must use the disk (after 24 hours) to play the game. That is at least better than telling them they can't play the game at all.

I've read so many articles about the Xbox One and PS4 and the comment section is mostly filled with nonsense but your comment, your workaround makes so much sense, I hope they do it your way, if they can't find a better solution or may be increase the 24hr check in period but I can see drawbacks to that. I like these constructive arguments.

greensabath said,

You can still lend/sell disks - This is half true. You CANNOT lend disks. You can only GIVE a game to a friend, one time, and that's it. They can't give it back to you, or anyone else. Thanks MS for giving us a feature NO ONE uses. Who just GIVES games away. If that's the case, MS, you should lead by example and GIVE everyone a copy of Halo 5 when it comes out.

I see your point, there is another workaround to that, there is a feature called Sharing games library with your family (10 people) but that doesn't have to be just your family, it could be your friends, they don't need to have the same IP etc to play those games, this way you can share your games without having to go to your friends place to give the disc.

greensabath said,

You can't sell disks. All you can do, is trade them in to big-box retail stores. So instead of before, where you could get decent money by selling your game on craiglists/ebay, you are forced to accept pennies for your game at Gamestop, who then turns around and sells it $5 cheaper than retail.

This is purely hypothetical but I would expect Microsoft or the publisher to set a price for the resale value of a game, it will be a total different system.

greensabath said,

Points 1 & 3 are contradictory. Why would you want to use disks, if you can just install them and not use them anymore.

Discs won't be used to play games but Discs could be used to download the content to your XB1 without using the bandwidth of your internet connection, so this is an advantage.

What's wrong with point 3? XB1 requires mandatory install of the game and after that you don't require the disk, obviously you can't sell it without unlinking the license of the game with your account, we can delete the game or download the game whenever required, game licenses will stored in the cloud.

This is purely hypothetical but I....

As far as Gamestop is concerned, MS/Publishers may have some agreement with them to make it more 'fair' to the consumer in terms of trade-in prices/reselling used games.

If that's true, then that will help alot. BUT, my main point about this system, is that it FORCES the end user to use a Middleman (Gamestop). Before, you didn't need to do that at all.

Discs won't be used .....

Basically, what MS has done, is the FULL digital model, but has a 'medium' of still using discs. At this point, it is still not viable to send up to 50GB per game to your console over the internet. So instead of doing that all digitally, they have just done the same thing, but passing it through a 'disc'. Once you have done that after putting in the disc, the system treats the game on the console just like any other game that is d/l digitally only. Really, you could throw away the disc, and still play the game on your console.

The main issue about this whole thing, is with licenses. MS wants to tie a game to a account, but they don't want (or the Publisher's don't want) that license to be freely or easily transferred between people on a whim.

I see your point, there is another.....

This is kind of a middle-ground with the point above. MS/Studios want 1 game tied to 1 account. But, game-sharing is the exact opposite of this policy. It allows sharing 1 license to 10 people. The reason is obvious for doing this, people would be ****ED if someone in a family of four would have to buy the same game 4 times, 1 for each person that has a live account.

Granted, with the 360, one disc can only be used on one console at a time. But, w/ the new system (Since the disc is a means of transportation only, and the game is tied to one account once it's installed), this allows that 'one-license' to be used on multiple accounts at the same time w/o having to 'transfer' the license back and forth between xbox's.

Also, they figured they would allow the license to be used at the same time, by 10 people, and can tout it as a feature. If they wanted, they could still restrict it to just being used by one account at a time, but they probably feel that this would be too restrictive (on top of what their policy already is)

"Consumers are not ready for a full digital future for games. It will happen, but if Microsoft thinks that its Xbox One disc restrictions will make that future happen faster, I think they will be sorely disappointed."

I don't see this being listed as an opinion/editorial piece.

ahhell said,
"Consumers are not ready for a full digital future for games. It will happen, but if Microsoft thinks that its Xbox One disc restrictions will make that future happen faster, I think they will be sorely disappointed."

I don't see this being listed as an opinion/editorial piece.


Title: "Some Final Thoughts On The XBox One"...

What would that be if not someone's opinion?

I feel very much like the questions I was hoping would be addressed at E3 were totally unanswered, especially regarding the X1's capabilities. I was kinda expecting a "see, THIS Is what it can do" presentation from MS.

It is kinda funny, though, how many gamers around the world hinge on E3 every year, but when you actually attend, it is a trade show like many others. And yea, it is kinda dying down... in the old days, we had only a tenuous connection online. Now, everything is live streamed without a thought, so big reveals aren't as interesting.