It looks like Microsoft will have cause to start its holiday celebrations early this year. Microsoft announced last Thursday that its next-gen console the Xbox One has matched the PS4’s launch day sales record and has reported sales in excess of one million units. With each Xbox One priced at $499 in the United States, compared to the PS4’s $399, the odds seem to be in Microsoft’s favor.
Despite Microsoft’s early Christmas present, Microsoft spent much of this year on the naughty list. Gamers were particularly critical of the console this summer on social media sites where they bashed Microsoft for policies that they labelled as ‘anti-consumer.’ Some of the most unpopular policies included those which required the console to be always connected to the internet, limitations on sharing and reselling games, and the omnipresence of the console’s motion tracking hardware known as ‘Kinect.’ Microsoft has since reversed on most of these policies.
The Kinect system on the Xbox One carries potential personal privacy and data security concerns. In effect, the device is a sophisticated motion sensor coupled with a microphone that allows users to interact with the console and games through voice activation or body movements. It can literally track a user’s skeletal movements and map them to in-game avatar. The Kinect microphone remains active while the console is in sleep mode to receive voice commands to turn the console on. Even though Microsoft has reported its commitment to privacy concerns, many gamers remain skeptical that their personal and biological information is safe.
Thankfully, a solution to privacy concerns on the Xbox One seems to have already revealed itself.
UPDATE: It would seem that Microsoft is regulating speech in its Upload Studio application on the Xbox One. Users that have utilized what is being referred to as ‘excessive profanity’ can potentially have their Xbox Live privileges revoked under Microsoft’s Code of Conduct. More information on this developing issue may be found here.
Sony’s latest video game console, the PlayStation 4, was released last Friday in North America. The launch was successful. Very successful. In fact, Sony sold more than one million units in the first 24 hours of the launch. It is an impressive figure that is sure to be a record and marks a strong start for Sony in this new console race.
However, Sony will not have long to enjoy last week’s success. Microsoft is set to release this Friday what many gamers consider to be the PS4’s direct competitor, the Xbox One. Both the PS4 and the Xbox One feature impressive technological capabilities, an extensive game library, and versatile multimedia capabilities. At the time of this writing, it is anyone’s guess which will win the hearts and dollars of the world’s gamers.
Of course, there is a third horse in this console race. The Wii U, the successor to Nintendo’s successful Wii console, was in fact the first horse out of the gate in this gaming generation. The Wii U was released last November and like the PS4 and Xbox One features high definition graphics and multimedia features. The Wii U’s sales were low initially but are currently on the rise due to the strong hold Nintendo has on the youth and casual gaming markets.
So why should the legal community care about this latest generation of video game consoles?
Why shouldn’t they?
In particular, this writer advises the copyright and trademark attorneys out there to keep an eye on this new generation of consoles. They are making it easier than ever to share user created content and media online. For example, the PS4 has a dedicated “share” button on its controller intended to help gamers record video of their in game achievements and other content. It is not unforeseeable that the lion’s share of this content will be protected intellectual property. Sony may very well find itself defending against contributory liability claims before the dust settles on its successful console launch.
Sound familiar? Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417 (1984)