For our readers who have never heard of the E3 Expo, it is a yearly event in which video game fans and electronic industry journalists converge on a single spot in order to witness the latest developments in console technology first hand. This year’s expo is perhaps the most important in years due to the anticipated release of the two major video game console competitors’ next-gen products toward the end of this year: The Microsoft XBOX One and Sony’s PlayStation 4. Ironically, much of the debate on which console will ultimately prevail revolves around cloud computing and ownership rights when it comes to the content they download.
For decades video game consoles have captured the imagination of customers and sparked wide debate as to which features are most beneficial for end users. In the early 1980s, Atari’s main competitor was staving off a growing trend of computer programming and floppy disc games from systems such as the Apple IIe. This was due to the fact that the console had blown its console competition (Coleco and Mattel) out of the water. A few years later, the Atari quickly became obsolete once the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) came out, and that console reigned for a couple of years until the 16-bit Sega Genesis was launched. Sony’s PlayStation came along in the 1990s; offering disc-based games and a different control scheme, but it wasn’t until the turn of the century that today’s main rivalry between the XBOX and PlayStation took center stage.
Throughout the years, video game owners have retained the rights to their purchases. In the “old days,” once you bought a cartridge it was yours to keep, lend, redistribute, or sell. There were zero restrictions on taking your game and playing it on a friend’s system or even earning a few dollars by selling it to a video game rental service once you were finished with it. However, with the invention of cloud computing and its entrance into the mainstream, this reality has quickly changed to a circumstance in which those who purchase downloadable content must store that data non-locally.
While this brings a number of benefits to the customer, it also means that the new XBOX One from Microsoft will restrict the use of used games as well as limit game sharing in general. This week’s E3 Expo has already had a polarizing moment when Microsoft announced that the starting price for the XBOX One will be $499 – a full $100 more than Sony PlayStation’s opening purchase price of $399 (both consoles are expected to be available to the public later this year).
On top of this, PlayStation announced earlier this week that single player video games will be able to be enjoyed offline amid thunderous applause from those in attendance. Although the “Always On” concept has gained in leaps and bounds among some gamers, the notion of being forced to have a console connected to the Internet at all times in order to be able to use it has turned off a lot of hardcore gamers.
The Cloud’s Future In Video Games
Regardless of whether actual video game content is eventually transferred completely out of the hands of the customer, it is highly likely that the trend towards Cloud Computing growth will continue for years to come. Although Sony has beaten its rival in the preliminary marketing stages of the upcoming console releases, both devices will rely heavily on non-local data storage as well as integrating other services that require an Internet connection in order to use.
Anticipated sales for both consoles are well into the millions of units, and it will be interesting to see how new cloud technology is combined into the hardware once it has been released.