You may have seen that Xbox boss Phil Spencer made a few comments this week on the importance of game preservation. The reception to his statements have been somewhat mixed, with a few naysayers criticising the company's approach to preservation in general.
During the Kinda Funny Gamecast earlier this week, Spencer said he wished the gaming industry would "come together and help preserve the history of what gaming is about", delving into his fears for the future:
“I do worry a little bit about losing our artform and the history of it. When I think about old ROMs and MAME and these things of where these old games are going to go as the hardware that’s capable of running those game. I really wish as an industry we’d come together to help preserve the history of what gaming is about, so we don’t lose the ability to go back.”
However, it appears these comments have rubbed certain listeners the wrong way — both media publications and the wider gaming community. Kotaku put out an article this week titled: "Xbox Boss Wants To Preserve Games While Threatening Game Preservation", which criticised the goliath that is Xbox Game Pass.
They suggested the increased number of players signing up to the service reduces the amount of people buying games. In their own words: "You don’t get to spearhead a movement that’s contributing to the erosion of the very idea of ownership of things, then also say you care about game preservation!"
"The fact is the more people who move to Game Pass the less there will be buying games, and the longer this goes on, and the more influential the idea becomes, the less games will be sold, and so the fewer games will be out there that people actually own."
On the other hand, IGN India made comments regarding the Xbox Series X's use of DRM, something which the company has previously acknowledged could be handled better. The site references a video from Modern Vintage Gamer which claims "the Xbox Series X is unable to play games without connecting to Microsoft’s servers". While that's not strictly true (you can set your Xbox as your Home Console to continue playing), it's described here as a "band-aid" fix.
The main issue IGN India is raising is around the use of Smart Delivery on physical discs. While native discs for Xbox Series X work fine, discs built for Xbox One require a hefty internet download to upgrade to the next-gen version.
"Native Xbox Series X physical games like Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition work fine. It installed off the disc and ran as it should offline. This should in theory mean that games that are solely for the Xbox Series X should work both offline and online. However with Microsoft’s focus on Smart Delivery, it means that the current crop of Xbox Series X discs that run on Xbox One as well are essentially coasters."
Some Twitter users have also expressed their concerns with Xbox's requirement of an internet connection during the console's setup process. According to the official Xbox website, to use your console offline "you must be online when you set up Xbox for the first time. After your console has updated and you’ve added your profile, you can go offline."
There are still undeniably some issues in the Xbox mainframe stemming from the early Xbox One days when former boss Don Mattrick seemed to want to kamikaze the brand into oblivion. While many have gained a lot of benefit out of Xbox Game Pass (us included), there's a community of people who worry about the future of physical media.
But it is worth noting that the Xbox team has done a lot of good when it comes to this topic. They've worked effortlessly to bring many games to consoles via backwards compatibility and have even brushed up hundreds of titles with 4K enhancements and FPS Boosts. That's not even mentioning the work being done with Xbox Cloud Gaming.
For a large majority, DRM and Xbox Game Pass won't seem like much of an issue, but for a certain group of users, they believe it threatens the future of the games industry. Hopefully there's a way forward that keeps everyone happy.
How do you feel about Xbox's stance of game preservation? Let us know in the comments below.