Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Playing a New Xbox Game

Back in the day - and that day was about ten years ago - when the brand-spanking-new Xbox 360 was finally released, a lot of gamers rejoiced at the prospect.  Here was the realization of years of suggestions and speculation and desires.

I will be the first to admit that the Xbox 360 shocked and surprised me - and it was not just its rush to create what amounts to an online gaming social network - which it did.  It somehow managed to take the lowly old video game disc and turn it into a breathing entity thanks in no small part to its stock hard drive and the ability to install the game disc to it.

Now you could not actually PLAY the game you installed without ALSO inserting its disc in the optical drive because why?  Because DRM that's why.  But still - installing the disc to your hard drive had two very desirable effects - it made load times a lot faster, and in the case of multiple disc games, it made changing discs a thing of the past.

So cool that, all the way around!

Now the Xbox One has arrived - and its internal drive storage is even more important - and not just because you HAVE to install the contents on the discs for every new game you get mind you - but because a LOT of games are now being sold online as digital rather than disc copies.

What that means is that the game resides entirely on the hard drive in your Xbox One and you DO play it without needing to insert a disc as its DRM is managed via registration keys attacked to your Gamertag Account.

We are definitely Okay with that.  What we are slightly NOT okay with tho is the fact that you no longer have a choice about installing a game to your system.

Let Me Put That Another Way
When Microsoft originally announced the Xbox One one of the aspects that it did mention was that games would be played from the hard drive, by default.
When we initially read that I distinctly recall turning to the other games journos in the bullpen at work and commenting - "they better be selling those babies with monster hard drives in them then."

Sadly that was not to be the case.  The standard hard drive was just a 500GB model.  When you do the math for a typical AAA game title like GTA5 or Fallout 4 you are looking at a game that will, eventually, when all of the extra content is factored in, weigh in at a massive 30GB plus of required drive strorage.

That works out to - conservatively - only 16 or so major titles before you are SOL and out of hard drive space mates.

So what was the fix?  Microsoft announced that it would support external drives/storage via USB3.0 and there you have it, problem solved.  Well, not so much really.

You see later it was discovered that some titles do not play nice with external storage, and what is worse, the different models of external drive casing do not necessarily perform in a similar fashion.

When we got our original Xbox One we lucked out and the external drive we chose - a Western Digital MyBook device - and it holds 2TB and it works flawlessly with the Xbox One.  So yeah, all was well for a while.  But then we started hitting peak on the internal drive with AAA titles that had to be installed on it and we ran out of room.

Just before that happened, we were hit with the BSoD and had to send the original X1 in for replacement or repair - and because we could not NOT have an Xbox One (work you know) we had to go out and buy a new one.

If we were going to be doing that anyway, logic argued that we should go with a 1TB model.  And if we were going to do THAT, logic argued we should get the best deal available - which at the time was the Forza 6 version of the Xbox One - so that is what we bought.

Now perspective aside, we have delayed the crisis point for new games by half simply going with the 1TB drive model.  But it is also clear that we are going to have to add a second external My Book drive unit soon because THAT is filling up as well.  

The moral of this story?  Well, it seems that digital content was not the magic answer that Microsoft thought it would be.  In fact it creates problems because it deducts the flexibility of removable media completely!

I don't know what the future of console gaming will be or is - but what I do know is that it will not be a disc-free future.  Not yet anyway.

So how was your Monday?

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