Hi, I just wanted to drop everyone a note and ask them to please make sure to NOT purchase the upcoming XBox One.

Why you might ask, what prompted this?

In short it is the horrendous DRM and privacy problems built into the machine itself. I’m sure that it will play games well enough, but the rest of it is a nightmare.

Let’s start with the simpler to explain part, privacy. The XBox One requires (and comes with an updated Kinect). The Kinect has a camera and microphone built into it. The XBox One will not run if the Kinect is not plugged in. If you turn off the machine, the machine isn’t really turned off and neither is the Kinect. After all, if you say a certain voice command the machine powers back up. Sure that is kind of cool the first few times, but it means it is sitting there robbing you of electricity all day every day while it sits and waits for the code phrase. Listening and waiting.

Wasting electricity isn’t the main problem. The fact that it can be listening (or watching) when supposedly powered off is. I don’t see anything that makes it impossible for someone to send you a system update that effectively turns an XBox One into a dedicated spying device. There are already people out there that have fun turning the webcams built into laptops into spying devices, why should the XBox One be any different. It might be more difficult than a random laptop but I doubt impossible. Of course with the Prisim stuff in the news the most likely suspect to want to upload such a thing would be the government. Why stop at reading through your phone logs when they can watch you while you play a video game. They can make Microsoft add a back-door to any XBox One they want without letting anyone know. The next one in line to spy on you is of course advertisers. Do you really think Microsoft won’t sell your private conversations for some extra ad revenue? It is an Orwellian nightmare that the customer has no good way to control. The best solution is to not let it anywhere near your home.

Another major problem with the system is game ownership. When you spend $60+ on an XBox One game at your local retailer you get a disc, but the disc is somewhat unimportant. You see it is really just install media. Every game you play on the XBox One MUST be installed to the system’s hard drive. After that you don’t even need to keep the disc.

You may ask yourself how they would stop you from just passing the game disc around to anyone and everyone. Well, the game has to be registered to the console over the internet if it has already been registered to someone else it simply won’t run on your machine.

So what if you are tired of a game and want to give/sell it to someone else? Guess who gets to insert themselves as a middle-man and gets to allow / disallow the transaction. If it is a gift, the game can only be given once and then never again and only to people you have been “friends” with for at least 30 days (so much for Craig’s List). If you want to sell it, only select retailers will be allowed that have an “arrangement” with Microsoft.

What is to stop you continuing to play a game after selling it to GameStop or giving it to a “friend”? After all, if the install disc is no longer required couldn’t you just keep playing after selling it? Nope. You can’t because the system now requires that it log into the internet and communicate with the mother ship at least once a day. After you have sold/gifted the game it will of course be removed from your machine.

Wait a minute you might ask, why can’t I just not hook the XBox One to the internet? You could try, but it will just refuse to play games at all.

Q/A Time:

  • What if I only play single player games do I still need internet then.  Yes.
  • What if my internet goes down for a day or more? No gaming for you, not even single player games.
  • What if I only have dial up internet? Not good enough.
  • What if I only have cell phone internet? You had better hope the XBox One doesn’t decide to download multi-gigabyte updates. I suppose you had better keep that cell phone connection next to the XBox One too.
  • What if I want to take XBox One to Grandma’s house? Grandma had better have high-speed internet and give you her password or else no gaming for you. Dial up won’t cut it.
  • What if I have high-speed internet but my parents won’t let me connect the XBox One to it? No gaming for you, you may as well return that $500 doorstop before the return window closes. Actually with double digit percent numbers of XBox 360 machines not being connected to the internet, I expect to see an awful lot of returned machines. If I were a retailer, I wouldn’t be happy about that. Expect to see restocking fees.
  • What if I’m a military person called to serve somewhere without consistent internet access? No gaming for you.
  • What happens when the next XBox after this one (lets call it XBox Purple just because it is silly) comes out and Microsoft decides that it is no longer profitable to run the servers that the XBox One authenticates to? Guess who just lost all their games? It’s you! Didn’t you learn anything from Electronic Arts killing off online access to all of those XBox 360 games? Ten years from now, Twenty years from now do you want to be able to go back and play a game you paid for? Too bad it is no longer profitable for Microsoft to run the servers. Even if your game system and disc are in perfect condition and connected to the internet, if there are no authentication servers you can’t play. So much for preserving culture and history. Go and read up on Microsoft’s Plays 4 Sure music DRM.
  • Didn’t Sony get hacked and have their online systems wrecked for over a month a while back? They did, don’t forget people had credit card numbers compromised too. What is to stop that from happening to XBox One? Well, the servers might be better patched, but otherwise………nothing. Guess who doesn’t get to play for a month if that happens to XBox One. It’s you!
  • What if I just don’t have internet access either due to being poor, or in a place where it is not offered. The head XBox guy says you could buy a 360 instead, of course seeing as how they will probably stop making new games for it shortly I can’t say I would recommend following that advice.

As you can see the whole system is a privacy nightmare, and a horrendous leech slurping down your expensive internet access without asking all so that it can serve it’s own digital kingdom that you are only a serf to. Anything you buy through it could be lost at a moments notice even if you did nothing wrong. As soon as it is no longer profitable don’t expect to be able to play any games you purchased with your hard earned money ever again.

Seeing as how Sony likes to install rootkits on your computer because you might theoretically rip an audio CD to MP3, and that they like to take away advertised features you already paid for (Other OS) because someone might be able to hack through that, I can’t say I recommend the PS4 either. At least it is the only game system at E3 this year that didn’t manage to be given a really STUPID name.

I wish I could recommend the STUPIDly named WiiU (yes the Wii is also a STUPID name). However, with only one person getting a game pad and everyone else demoted to Wii-motes I really can’t recommend it either. Since there are no replacement game pads if it breaks you may as well buy a whole new system. Since it doesn’t have a centralized account system, good luck getting back any downloadable games you already paid for if the machine breaks. Oh and as of the writing the are precious few games to even play.

Maybe it would be best to just skip a generation all three look like stinkers. Just do me a favor, if you find you must buy one of them, make it something other than the XBox One. I don’t want such anti-consumer methods to spread. We are already saddled with garbage like on-disc DLC, and online-pass I don’t think I can take any more of this junk.