The recently-revealed Xbox One games console has so far been polarising opinion between ‘technological innovation’ and ‘AI will control my life’, though a latest rumour surrounding its development will probably fit more into the latter category, unless you are what is commonly referred to in gaming as an ‘achievement hunter’.
The new features, hinted by Gamesindustry International based on old Microsoft patents found, suggest that the product, through its ‘enhanced’ Kinect camera system (‘Kinect 2′), will be able to ‘monitor users’ content viewing habits’ through ‘a number of ways’.
As an extension to both the ‘Achievements’ feature of the Xbox 360, and the ‘Xbox One TV’ connected viewing system of the next generation, Microsoft could offer Gamerscore-style points for viewing specific content and commercials.
In addition, the patent relating to Kinect 2 also suggests that ‘DRM’ (digital rights management) measures will be tied to the motion-sensor in order to prevent people from cheating a content purchase system, and by ‘cheating’, we mean the heinous crime of having more people watching the video than its ‘purchase licence’ allows.
Essentially, the system would activate in the event of downloaded content (presumably rental) being played, with the motion-sensor camera detecting the number of people in its view (and in a position to be ‘watching’ the content), and blocking the video from continuing if ‘too many people’ are in the room, and offering a prompt for the licence to be upgraded. So you’d probably need to put that hypothetical sleeping baby in your arms somewhere else, it’s in the presence of the content without paying for it…
Away from such controversial plans, the application for the ‘TV achievements’ feature reads: “Television viewing tends to be a passive experience for a viewer, without many opportunities for the viewer to engage or have interactive experiences with the presented content. To increase interactive viewing and encourage a user to watch one or more particular items of video content, awards and achievements may be tied to those items of video content.”
Mainly addressing the ‘people-counting’ proposal being leaked, Microsoft are claiming that they have not publicly committed to implementing anything other than what they have announced, and that not all patents they hold will be made use of, as the American company stated: “Microsoft regularly applies for and receives patents as part of its business practice; not all patents applied for or received will be incorporated into a Microsoft product.”
However, it is believed by ‘industry sources’ that the ‘DRM system’ will become a part of Xbox One, presumably indicating a new ‘tiered licencing’ system for content based on the number of people watching it. With a console that is also ‘required’ to have connected to the internet at least ‘once every 24 hours’, and a new second-hand gaming sales system that will ensure Microsoft and game publishers make the majority profit from re-sales, is there any escape from the new Xbox for anyone who buys one, before the obvious inevitable happens?