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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Xbox One DVR feature: Possibilities and Pitfalls

Xbox One will be launching on November 22, right at the doorstep of Christmas. However it would be facing stiff competition from Sony’s PS4 which would be launching a week before on November 15th in US. This is going to be one hell of a battle where each would be trying to outdo the other in the bid to garner as much attention as possible. Each would be bringing along their own set of amazing features with a hope that they are able to bring some amount of differentiation in the minds of the player. Armed with a host of launch titles, both Microsoft and Sony are bullish that this is going to be the biggest console launch in history.

There is no doubt that both the consoles have some amazing features and capabilities that allow the player to have amazing new experiences. One such feature that Xbox One brings is the DVR. The new Game DVR feature keeps a rolling video of the last five minutes of gameplay, so you can share it online or with your friends. Some games come complete with an Upload Studio feature that lets you edit clips and add effects or voice over before uploading. What would this possibly mean for the individual gamer as well as the industry on the whole?

For starters, it allows gamers to capture and share their gameplay footage with a lot more ease. There would be no more requirement for gamers to get additional software and hardware to capture their gaming clips. It becomes much easier for the not too tech savvy player to capture video game footage and share with friends and family. This would increase the number of player uploading game footage to websites like youtube. How would this help the gaming industry? Increased exposure to gaming clips and the ability to share would definitely increase the chances that people may pick up a lot of games that their friends are playing.

It also allows the gamers to do a lot more with their games and increases the engagement factor. People can play tutor and load multiple walkthroughs of the difficult portions of the game. A lot of people would do so to either help their fellow gamers or boast of their incredible gaming skill. Either way, it would mean a higher engagement level with their game. The ability to share video clips would be specially helpful in games where there are multiplayer modes. I for one would love to upload a video of me getting the better of my friend in our favorite Battlefield game. It is just so much more fun.

The ability to record and share video also does a lot of good for the console as well as the industry on the whole. It would make the console a much more socially integrated device, something which has been a bone of contention for a lot of people in the current generation. It would also give a lot of freedom to game designers to come up with scenarios where the player can share video content with his peers. Different gameplay scenarios can be designed keeping in mind this particular feature. That being said, care would need to be taken while designing the game to keep the action balanced or else too many over the top action sequences would creep into the game just to cater to this feature.

The feature to capture and share video clips would also put a lot of pressure on game developers to really improve the cinematic quality of their games. Some games don’t actually require a heavy emphasis on graphics but this feature may tempt a lot of developers, especially the ones working under the influence of a traditional publisher to go that way, considering the marketing potential of social sharing. A delicate balance would need to be maintained while developing games keeping the video sharing feature in mind or else there lies a danger of skewing the gameplay.

The feature has a lot of potential to do good. It not only allows player to get more engaged with their games but also give the developers the opportunity to bring a lot more in their game. The scope it provides for marketing, word of mouth and social interaction is immense. The final piece in this puzzle can be the kind of  integration it can have with the different social networks. The success of this feature would also depend on one factor, its ease of use and manageability. If Microsoft is able to nail down these factor, it would be a huge boost for their console as well as for the industry as a whole.

Siddharth has been playing games since forever and loves it so much so he decided to make a profession out of it. After completing his MBA, he decided to join EA to learn the ropes of the industry. A Game Producer and Game Designer by profession, while not playing games, he loves to read about them, watch movies and spend quality time with his family. His passion for writing led to the creation of this blog.

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