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.
[source kotaku.com, via in.ign.com]
But gamepass is an option not mandatory, so to those who want that game preservation then buy a series X and buy your games physical whilst those who don't care can focus on gamepass whilst saving hundreds to spend on other necessities
I don't really agree that you have to actually own the games in order for them to be preserved as long as the company in question continuously makes them available. The way I see it, as long as these games are never removed from the platform (i.e. they're still purchasable and/or accessed via Game Pass) then the term game preservation has been fulfilled. Just because I don't own certain games doesn't mean that they're gone for good or that I can't play them in the future. That's the whole advantage of focusing on one continuous platform compared to Sony who "believes in generations" and doesn't let you access older games on newer systems.
Then there are those people who believe that Microsoft is going to force you to subscribe to Game Pass in order to access their games and completely remove the option of being able to purchase them, either physically or digitally. That's never going to happen because Microsoft's philosophy has always been about given consumers different choices. If you want to subscribe to a service, you can. If you want to buy your games, you can. That's never going to change.
As soon as i saw Kotaku and IGN are the ones moaning i instantly dismissed it as a non issue.
No defending Xbox on this topic. They have themselves signed deals that meant their own first party games are delisted. GPU is their focus and if they had their way we would all be on it and so many games would be lost forever. For at least two gens they have focused almost entirely on the opposite of game preservation - they want disposable gaming. Content deleted and move on to next title - here obviously everyone will defend them but he is just better off not talking about something he stands against.
@LtSarge good luck playing the old forzas….
These are flagship games for Xbox that are no longer available
@Stocksy You do realise that the only franchise that happens to is the Forza series and that's because of licensing issues with car manufacturers. Not all first-party games are like that.
@Stocksy I mean, I literally own all Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon games physically so I won't have to worry about not being able to play them.
Rather than always crying about Xbox why don’t you demand for a decent backcompat from your favourite overlord?
@LtSarge so what happens when developers go bust? Or stores get took down like the ps vita store will eventually (again)
D+ doesn't release their original shows on DVD/Blu Ray, if D+ was to close down then outside of piracy those shows would be lost. Of course things are very different with Gamepass but you do have to wonder what the future has in store when streaming and services as well buying digital are the go to thing nowadays.
But... Game Pass doesn't stop you from buying games. Game Pass and game ownership aren't mutually exclusive concepts.
@UltimateOtaku91 If studios get bankrupted, then games will cease to be sold both physically and digitally (delisted). There's nothing you can do about that either way.
That's the whole point with my argument in that Microsoft will continue to offer the exact same games on their newer platforms starting with all the ones available on Xbox One and onwards. When Sony wanted to shut down the PS3 and Vita stores, where would you go to buy those games? Nowhere, because you can't buy them on PS4 or PS5. If Microsoft decides to shut down the 360 store, you can still buy tons of 360 games on Xbox One or Series X. Yes they should've tried to include all of them but their focus on backwards compatibility came late during last generation. At least they've tried to add a lot of games, that's more than Sony has tried to do. And according to Spencer, they still haven't given up on adding more BC titles.
Xbox has a lot of issues in the preservation department they need to do better on. But they're leagues ahead of Sony and Nintendo.
@LtSarge digitally they would be delisted yes but physically you would still be able to buy them second hand and if you already have the game physically then you can play it whenever but digitally it would cease to be playable
How about adding more to backwards compatibility if you truly believe in game preservation, it's been over 2 years since the last titles were added.
Gamepass doesnt void the ability or want/need to buy games we want/need(?). The DRM thing on the other hand, is a little concerning.
Everyone is so obsessed with being able to play Keith Courage on their TurboGrafx/PC-Engine in the year 2067. I support this, really I do, but I fail to see why the industry needs to cripple itself with outdated technologies to satisfy the collectathon needs of a segment of users. Why can't it be both? Personally, I'd rather more users had more access to more artistic works than a scant few obsessives being able to play Mad Dog McCree on the Sega CD.
(I say the above with peace and love as a recovered game collector that sold off my entire collection of physical games last year, including every known US Vita release, etc.)
Also, why isn't everyone down on Steam for the same things? What's different about Microsoft in this case? I get that Sony and Nintendo have been flat out stupid about back-compat and legacy gaming, but Microsoft feels like the only console manufacturer to care at all. So it's a work in progress - give em some time.
@SplooshDmg “Sony doesn’t allow you to play your PS3 owned games disc or digital on PS5 nor does Nintendo allow you to play your Wii U owned games disc or digital on Switch. I don’t see articles about this.”
lets be honest the only ones who actually care is GOG as they offer DRM free games
Doing a pretty good job in my opinion. FPS boosts and backwards compatibility. Better then selling remakes after remakes. Better to try and make these games available then nickle and dime customers. Wasting developers times porting games over because customers didn't want the consoles in the first place. I loved my WIIU and seeing all those games coming over to the switch is wasting away my patience with Nintendo. I want to see new games on my new consoles and a way to access old content that I've already purchased digitally. I don't see how it's that difficult to do this besides the console maker losing money. In the end, they are losing my trust and my money because I'm not supporting "complete" editions and remakes anymore.
@UltimateOtaku91 No, even if you own games digitally and they become delisted, you can still play them whenever you want. You can even redownload them should you want to play them on a newer system (if they're available through BC that is).
@LtSarge well that would depend on the game/system, I can't download my PT demo on ps5, I couldn't download my ps3 games on ps4 or on ps5.
Nothing wrong with preserving and offering the old games especially if you have paid for them.
It’s is a great idea and GPU is great Value and serves this well.
There is an however, 8 months in a not a new AAA game to show off my new series x and really it will be 1 year since release when we get FH5 the first AAA game from in house studios.
Nintendo are just as bad with dam remakes from years ago, and I can’t remember the last time their in house AAA studios made a game.
Sony are doing a lot better overall with new game releases since launch and also cleverly used 2nd party studios like Sumo Digital as as well.
I remember the days when I had all three old generation consoles and there was a NEW AAA studio game every month almost to pick from one of the three consoles.
The game front in gaming market really AAA wise from in house studios really has changed is seems to be worse off for it.
@UltimateOtaku91 That's what I'm trying to say. Sony doesn't care about BC while Microsoft does. For example, if somebody bought the first Forza Horizon digitally on 360, you can still play it on your Xbox One even if it's been delisted. I know that because I own the game digitally.
For some reason Nintendo with the Switch are proving a business model that says you can bat out any old HD remakes, make zero in house AAA studio games and sell nearly 90 million consoles.
It’s dam worrying, as if a business doesn’t need to make and invest in new AAA games to sell a console then economics wise, share holders will love that.
@Senua been literally tons of articles slating Sonys approach to BC (and perhaps rightly so) but a lot of the talk was prior to launch of PS5 and has died down.
I will say I didnt see much of it around Nintendo. They get a free pass in the media quite a lot.
Kotakus take was ridiculous. Claiming GamePass in anyway cripples preservation is as absurd as claiming Blockbusters existence back in the day, or GameFly today, also are sabotage to game preservation.
However, many of the other points are valid.
Xbox consoles should be usable out of the box. MS needs to fix that already. Internet requirement should not be necessary.
Smart delivery disks that come with the Xbox One version of the game in the disk also should just run the legacy version in BC mode if no internet connection is available.
Finally games that just can’t fit in the disk need to be clearly marked as such.
Other than that, Microsoft simply needs to commit to maintain a singular Xbox game store and never shut it down (unless they go out of business) and do everything in their power to keep all future Xbox consoles backwards compatible with anything that can run on an Xbox One. If they stop building consoles, that better happen at a point where Windows Desktop OS itself is capable of 100% Xbox console runtime (all the way to Xbox one) and the Xbox store be moved into Windows itself.
I cant knock Phils point here and I think the reaction is a bit harsh. Hes talking about from a personal point of view and a lot of what he said was right.
Microsoft are just so heavily invested in Game Pass now that any impact on the principal of preservation and game ownership has to be accepted.
@Tharsman most things on Kotaku are ridiculous these days.
I really don’t see Game Pass as an issue.
The DRM OTOH really needs fixing. That isn’t acceptable. And while Xbox is currently doing well regards BC we need some kind of commitment that this will always be the case. They’re doing more than Sony or Nintendo on this front though.
@Jaxx420 I will say I didnt see much of it around Nintendo. They get a free pass in the media quite a lot.
more than a free pass, it’s just understood arguing with Nintendo is like arguing with an tree.
To Nintendo’s credit, when it’s viable they have attempted 2 gen BC at least on their handhelds, and they did it on their disk based consoles too.
They didn’t have Wii U BC on the switch because it is just nonsensical to bulky up that device for the sake of adding a disk drive, and lack of a second screen made it not viable to provide 3DS BC.
But for the most part, if I was to go to a retro store 30 years from now and find a working Wii U, or a Switch, and some games, I can just snatch it, hook it up, and play the games (so long they are not online games.)
I do find it humorous that Xbox always seems to be the one to get crapped on, when it's competitors practices are much worse for preservation. Ummm which console is the only one offering backwards compatibility all the way back to it's first console? Sony is obviously, the worst offender in all of this. It took much kicking and screaming to get them to finally, even allow PS4 backwards compatibility. Even Nintendo has fallen from grace on this. With Virtual Console being such a great option, now completely missing from the Switch.
In reality, only a select few amount of people really care about physical preservation. This is really just a gripe for collectors, not for gamers. Heck, I have Blu Rays and DVDs and tbh I haven't played one in years. Are these people equally upset with Netflix and other media streamers for what they are doing? Doubt it...
FWIW, half the game I download on Gamepass, I end up buying. These are also games that I would have waited for a steep discount or just never have played at all.
@Grumblevolcano Exactly. I would like to see more bc titles added but ive pretty much gave up on that now since nothing has been added for a couple of years now.
@TheIronChimp What's left though that is even good at this point? Other than licensed games like Lord of the Rings that would be a nightmare to get on BC.
I feel like this discussion is faulty at its base, because the term "preservation of games" wasn't defined first. One group seems to think the term means "ensuring that games we bought are still playable after decades", while the other group seems to mean "keeping the code of a game SOMEHOW runnable, so that it is - in principle - accessible SOMEHOW", like on emulators in a gaming museum. Depending on where you're comming from, the argument MS cannot be the spearhead with their Game Pass is either somewhat correct or absolutely incorrect. People will not come to a solution, if they continue to mix this up.
Games are not 'physical' - the Physical aspect was a means to get the games to the people to play them. Preservation of games is about the 'code' and the assets. To often, we here the 'code' is not available, some assets, audio files etc are 'lost' despite the fact those games are now on a physical format somewhere.
A good example is the Original code for Ninja Gaiden has been 'lost' so any remake/remaster etc has to go from Ninja Gaiden Sigma. The Source code as it 'existed' has been lost.
In Film, TV, Music - that can be the Original Master tapes - Even if the music or programmes were sold and can be easily sourced, that is not the same as having the Original Masters...
Game Preservation is about Preserving the Source Code and all the assets for that game forever. Often, that 'source code' is lost because it evolves into the sequel or next project. Its NOT about the plastic disc/cart you have, its about preserving the 'master' copy much like preserving the Master Tapes for all other media. Some has been preserved by transferring to Digital
"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.""
OMG this point is beyond stupid!!! Can't even wrap my head around the lack of logic involved in this. You can still play Xbox One games in their Xbox One forms straight up, just like Xbox One did. But "er muh gerd Smart Delivery (which is a totally free upgrade service) requires a hefty download to upgrade it to next gen". Well no fking $ht Sherlock!!! How else will it be upgraded from an old disc for free?!? "And the discs are then rendered as coasters". They've been coasters (with a simple, occasional DRM scan) since last gen on Xbox One and PS4 where the heck have you been? There's a reason for that. The games are too process intensive to stream directly from the discs. They have to be installed to the faster read/write of a hard drive in order to run at the graphical fidelity they are made. How on earth does this IGN India person have a job and not understand these kinds of basics?
@BAMozzy Nailed it. And really, that's a more concerning issue that is going on with gaming. The developer industry needs to work better at preserving source code. I wonder if some sort of database foundation, solely devoted to source code preservation could be something they could come together on? Hacking risks has been a big thing with source codes being "lost" as we've seen recently as well.
@trev666 Exactly. They are all about click bait and get traffic based off hate clicks and visitor anger. Its 100% the reason I am on this site.
@SplooshDmg hey Nitendo and Sony are preserving old games the best by selling them to you again at a higher price. You can keep buying it forever and not worry about it going away. Really the true game perservatists...that a word? It's ok if it's not as it BS anyways.
Kotaku is an absolute joke of a website with a bunch of wannabe journalists who write clickbait articles all the time..
Worst thing about this is that you can play more older ps games on your ps5 than you can play xbox games on series x/s.
With psnow and all ps4 library it is around 4500 games. On xbox there is only like 3200 games.
Shame on playstation for allowing more games, shame on them.
So you know how movies and TV basically transitioned over to be mostly part of big streaming services?
They still have options to actually purchase and own them either digitally or physically. Same for music.
So yes, you'd probably have less people buying games than now, but that's part of an industry evolving.
Developers will still get paid either method.
@LtSarge I agree with you regarding this. Preservation is at an Industry Level - meaning that games are preserved by “being available” which is exactly what Xbox is fantastic at.
Preservation does not mean we each get a copy of every game in our home.
Xbox is a positive for preservation; just not for physical copies.
Delistings are the biggest cause for concern - and yes Forza gets delisted which is a big shame but if you bought it before hand it’s all good. Switching off the Vita or PS3 store is a huge loss as so many games will become unavailable.
@lokozar You nailed much of the divide. These are different issues and Xbox' role is different in each.
With the push for back compat Xbox is doing more then anyone else to try and preserve this stuff. I was playing Toobin on my series X today. That blew my mind. Lol
This has been my core issue with GamePass from the very beginning, and why I will personally NEVER subscribe to it or any other subscription model. Just like most other online business models, it's weaning consumers off of the idea of any semblance of ownership or control. And in turn, some of their most basic RIGHTS they had back when this great hobby was still outside the "mainstream", all under the guise of convenience.
You can literally buy any game currently on Gamepass. Until that isn't the case these people really should pull their heads in. They come off like music execs every time a new type of music media came out. All doom and gloom and cassettes/internet/mp3/streaming is going to kill the industry!
@Scenes Toobin!? How we're you playing that?
@MetalGear_Yoshi the midway classics free on good this month. Also Spy Hunter, Rampage, Gauntlet and Smash TV. 😀
@Scenes Oh, that has Toobin! Awesome.
Yes Xbox has some issues with DRM, at the very least Xbox One games should be able to be installed without an internet connection and cross gen games should have a Series X disc edition available to buy.
However look at what the have done, you can buy games from the 360 and original Xbox and play them on their latest console, not only that but if you happened to play a 360 game years ago then they still even have your save file waiting for you. Can PS5 play PS3 games? No and they were about to close it's store as well and continually ignore their own history, PS Now exists but it's just a streaming service where you can't buy the games. Oh and then we have Nintendo who's only way to play it's legacy titles is a subscription and even then it's very limited and worse then what was on offer with the Wii some 15 years ago.
I do wonder why the Xbox is bashed in this regard when they seemingly have done more then the other 2 combined and despite not having the history that either of those have. There seems to be a huge bias towards those two in the media and gaming public but when you really think about what each is doing, then Xbox is doing at least as much for gamers and in most areas, far more
@BAMozzy well said and for me Xbox is doing far more to make their games, old and new, available to everybody, regardless of how, where and when they want to play and even how they pay for them then the other 2 combined. Without repeating what I said just above, what are Sony and Nintendo really doing to preserve their games from generations past?
@Neverwild the PS5 isn't playing any of them though, I can pick up a compatible 360 or og Xbox disc and just put it in my Series X and play that game at much higher quality then the original version, all without paying a monthly subscription. Ironic that one of the main criticisms in the article was the Gamepass subscription and your defence was a subscription
I'll give the DRM criticism. They maybe need to look into that, although it doesn't matter much to me as my internet is down maybe 1% of the time every year.
As far as the game preservation thing, that's kind of ridiculous. Like others have said, just because Game Pass is all digital doesn't mean that hurts game preservation that much. The vast majority of everything that's part of their huge backwards compatible catalog is available digitally. If that doesn't change, who cares? Xbox still has vastly superior backwards compatibility, and this is coming from a person who also owns a PS5.
Ownership of games and preservation of games that are no longer supported by modern hardware are two different topics.
Preservation in Phil’s context is ‘the ability to play old games’.
Kotaku’s point is ridiculous. Preservation has nothing to do with ownership and everything to do with access. The content is precious, not the medium — and certainly not ownership.
Xbox obviously wants to foster a “preservation” market, but they narrowly mean backwards compatibility across generations of hardware. Gaming Preservation is more about making sure software is rescued from failing physical mediums and hardware, and — more challengingly — online and networked games.
More concerning is how to preserve Sea of Thieves, for example, when the servers go down. It does not matter one whit about who and how people own games now. Owning a disc doesn’t not guarantee you can play it in the future anyway.
Such a disingenuous argument from that hack site.
@Benjamin 100% this. People conflating the two to make it about themselves and sound more important. Both are valid, but separate issues. Game preservation, however, requires you to think beyond yourself and about future generations.
People that want to buy physical can or will buy physical. The assumption on more Game Pass = less purchases needs to have some data and research to back it up rather than just a claim. Pretty sure I still buy a stupid amount of games even though I have game pass & I even buy retro games. Definitely a weird argument, if we can digitalize games & download them to cartridges or memory cards, tge only difference is your preference on it being on an original disc / cartridge / etc.
This is so dumb, all this "concern" is coming from PS fanboys. No one is FORCING you to buy game pass. I'll go back to buying physical when publishers stop making games $90 CAD (+$100 with tax). Laughably hilarious that this topic has gained any traction at all...
Reading the other comments, it looks like I don't have to add much, as everyone thinks it's stupid to claim Game Pass prevents or destroys game preservation. Not to mention, games featured on Game Pass are all discounted, so if you want to own it forever, that'll be the time to buy the game.
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