Not really great for customers though, is it? What if your cloud storage system simply gets turned off, Megaupload-stylee? Bye bye all of your storage. I don't think a lot of people are suddenly going to be happy moving their whole games collection to something like that. And it's still not going to be unlimited or free.
I'm not necessarily advocating it, but its definitely the way the future is being rolled out. Convergent technology where you access all of your content and services from single user account. Social Media, email, games and everything else all linked to a single user account with all the data stored online and accessible from whichever device you're using.
That's the probblem though, having to deactivate an older device before a newer one can be used (which can be a fiddly, time consuming, pain in the posterior), thereby limiting the devices you can use your paid for content on. I can understand they don't want multiple people using something that only one person has paid for, be even so...
Its incredibly simple in reality, you sign in to your account, it lists your authorised devices and you click the one you want to de-authorise, then simply sign in with your new one. Xbox Live, Sky and Apple all use this method and it takes no time or messing about at all and its all instantaneous. Its unlikely many people will want more than 5 devices to be able to access their account simulataneously so you can have a handheld, a console, a smartphone, a tablet and a PC all active at the same time and when you replace one you simply de-authorise the old one, its not like you continually have to switch device authorisations on the fly on a daily basis.
They want people to embrace this so they're going out of their way to make it as user friendly as possible. A few years down the line once its all widely adopted, certainly in the case of cloud storage I don't doubt there will be talk of server costs, storage costs and the inevitable introduction of subscriptions based on the amount of storage people want to retain.
Possibly. It'll be interesting to see how the collapse of the main high street retailer affects things. Joe Public is pretty unpredictible at times. We might well see the masses embrace digital downloads, or the first main digital download only console might be a disaster of epic proportions like the PSP GO. I'd imagine that Sony, Microsoft and (especially) Nintendo are still a little reluctant to go quite that far just yet.
I'm fairly sure next gen will be the transitional period. I'm sure they'll all come with conventional storage media and over their lifespan it will be slowly phased out until at the end its more or less download only and the gen after that will be dedicated boxes geared for online content. There were all sorts of reasons that PSP Go failed none of which really apply to the current market or what they're doing with it.
Again the tale of the Ipad, Iphone and Ipod and all the other smartphone/tablets that have followed in their wake (not to mention the increasing popularity of portals like XBL and PSN) would indicate that the market is not only ready to go digital but that anyone not capitalising soon may well miss the boat entirely.
I spend more money and play more games from places like XBL than I do at retail nowadays. In the case of original 360 games, sometimes they will be £5 or so more expensive than in a shop but then they don't have the associated costs with going to the shop to buy it so it works out about even. I actually like the fact that I can sit on the sofa, controller in hand and access an entire library of games rather than having to disk swap etc, I can download demo's, try before I buy and browse any DLC.
Obviously I'll be less enamoured when the 360 finally dies after the new gen machine is launched and I find that I've lost everything I purchased online for the 360 forever because none of it works on the new system and the old 360 servers are not there anymore so I have no way to re-download the old content on another machine. But then that's kind of the thing they're going for. No pre-owned, no secondhand, no physical ownership.
I have what has to be one of the sh*ttest internet connections in the country (1Mb when the winds blowing right) and I can download a full sized 360 game in around 6 or 7 hours on a normal day and in less than 12 hours when its slow. Almost as fast as a normal day at the shops and a lot faster than ordering from an online shop so the timeframes involved really aren't an issue, particularly for the 70% or so of people who have access to Fibre, Cable or at least reasonable ADSL who can do several GB in less than 2 or 3 hours. The 360 will also download while its switched off so I can order a full sized game in the evening and its there ready and waiting when I get up the next morning or before I leave for work and its ready to play when I get home.
There are lots of advantages in terms of accessibility, but there are pretty much parallel disadvantages in terms of value. Although I suppose that it can be argued, even physical media doesn't last forever. Just ask anyone who's still trying to make regular use of tape, disk or early CD based media from the 80's and early 90's, how they're holding up these days.