Does a new report confirm that Xbox 720’s always-on web connection will eventually lock-out second hand games?
VGLeaks has taken a look at the Durango-codenamed device’s purported software development kit (called an XDK – Xbox Development Kit by Microsoft).
The Hardware Overview in the device’s documentation details summarises both the device’s need for a permanent web connection, and how it will use that to install patches and keep games updated.
"The console will be ready instantly when users want to play, and will always maintain a network connection so that console software and games are always current," a screenshot posted by VGleaks – and embedded below – shows.
"With this ‘Always On, Always Connected’ design, users will quickly and easily enjoy their connected entertainment experiences, with no waiting for the console to restart or install updates."
The documentation also says the device will not actually need to read optical discs once games bought for them have been installed.
This, coupled with the always-on connection, would appear to confirm previous reports that the device contains stringent anti-piracy and anti-pre-owned technology prohibits the resale copying of discs.
Edge reported that detail earlier in the year – and many were skeptical at the time.
But the documentation reads: "Every Durango console will have a hard drive, although its exact capacity has not been chosen. It will be large enough, however, to hold a large number of games. All games will be installed on the hard drive. Play from the optical disc will not be supported.
"Durango consoles will have a Blu-ray Disc drive. Disc media will be used for distribution, but during gameplay games will not use content from the optical disc. An installation system is being designed that will allow gamers to begin playing while the game is being installed on the hard drive rather than waiting until installation is complete."
Gamers and retailers will not be best pleased by this, should the machine’s design lock-out second hand discs as speculated.
Second hand games are a lucrative part of the specialist games retail model – and consumers should in principle have a right to sell on the content of physical goods they buy.
It will be interesting to hear Microsoft’s answer on the matter, and whether it thinks the ownership and licence agreements around buying games software have changed in this more web-centric era.
The question is, have the team at Xbox been watching the recent SimCity debacle – and have they just ignored vocal gamers’ reactions to being forced into always-on connections by third-party publishers?
But then again, the documentation does start with this disclaimer: "This documentation is preliminary and subject to change."
Maybe, hopefully, some things are still to be decided.
That Durango documentation screenshot: