Gi Live London graphic

Connect with the UK Video Games Industry

Buy Your Tickets Today
Gi Live London graphic

Privacy concerns won't hurt Xbox One, says Bushnell

Serial entrepreneur says consumer backlash against Google Glass, Kinect tech won't matter if they're cool enough

Yesterday's revelation that the US government has been accessing central servers for a host of Internet giants and tracking individuals' chats, e-mails, documents and connection logs for surveillance purposes has sparked a new round of privacy concerns in tech circles. But where some consumers might be nervous about having Google Glass track their every movement and glance, or having an ever-vigilant, always-on Kinect in the living room, Nolan Bushnell told GamesIndustry International that any furor over the new pieces of tech is unlikely to hurt their prospects.

"Whenever I hear backlash, I say, 'Boy, that's going to be more successful than I thought it would be," Bushnell joked. "It's just the reality of the crazy world we live in."

"Whenever I hear backlash, I say, 'Boy, that's going to be more successful than I thought it would be"

Nolan Bushnell

While Bushnell was particularly interested in Google Glass and said the wearable tech will be "important," he didn't offer a prediction for how successful Xbox One would be, specifically. He did however address the decline of the console gaming market. Bushnell ruled out a second crash like the one in the early '80s, saying that one "was really suicide," a result of companies glutting stores with absurd amounts of software. While that upheaval was swift and catastrophic, Bushnell predicted a much slower decline for the current industry.

"I think that the idea of a closed system is going to be increasingly difficult in general," Bushnell said. "But systems die slowly."

While Bushnell said people will always want "the eight-foot experience" of playing games in a living room in front of the TV, he expects TV manufacturers to increasingly incorporate game-playing functionality into their sets. The jack-of-all-trades approach may leave the TVs at a disadvantage when it comes to horsepower, but Bushnell said he thinks it's much more likely that gamers will eventually buy dedicated upgrade cards to plug into their sets than spring for dedicated console hardware.

One controversial aspect of the next-generation consoles has been their emphasis on always-online experience and the ways they could be used to impose limitations on things like used games. For example, Microsoft has confirmed that the Xbox One will need to check in with the company's servers every 24 hours or lose the ability to play games, raising the possibility of a day where those servers are shut down and the system's entire catalogue becomes completely unplayable.

"I'm actually nervous about that a little bit," Bushnell said of how always-online trends would impact preservation of games. "I played games 30 years ago that I would like to be playing right now. Particularly since I have some quirky tastes and some of the stuff I really thought was important, not many other people did. So it sort of fell into the trash heap of society."

While Bushnell believes there are preservation efforts underway, he doesn't think the game companies themselves are doing much to preserve their works. It's an attitude he said was common even decades ago when he was still running Atari.

"With the coin-op game business, I wanted to keep one of every game we ever had," Bushnell said. "But the number of times various people said, 'Gee, why don't we get rid of these old things...'"

Bushnell's current focus is BrainRush, a serious game developer exploring ways of accelerating the learning process through games. Along those same lines, Bushnell is delivering a keynote address at The Serious Play Conference, set for August 20-22 at the DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Washington.

Gi Live London graphic

Connect with the UK Video Games Industry

Buy Your Tickets Today
Gi Live London graphic

More stories

Sony to charge $10 for PS4 to PS5 game upgrades

But the platform holder reversed its decision about Horizon Forbidden West's PS5 upgrade

By Marie Dealessandri

Amiga gets a miniconsole with The A500 Mini

Retro Games offering launches early next year with 25 games included and ability to side-load more

By Brendan Sinclair

Latest comments (11)

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development8 years ago
I'm not worried, I have my tinfoil hat.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
umm how can you have this Privacy concerns won't hurt Xbox One, says Bushnell headline when in the article it states

he didn't comment on Xbox One specifically

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 8th June 2013 3:46am

5Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Brendan Sinclair Managing Editor, GamesIndustry.biz8 years ago
@Todd Rephrased to more explicitly reflect what was meant.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (11)
Rephrased? as in made up? Plus you used the word "Wont "which is absolute. You reported however he said "unlikely", two very different words. Furthermore there was then a qualifier about if the "tech was/is cool enough".

Also Im not sure if you are here in the us but this purposes has sparked a new round of privacy concerns in tech circles is not accurate either. This Prism stuff has sparked outrage all over the country, not just tech circles. I mean its such a huge story that even a guy shooting up a college today killing 5 people isnt getting much coverage. Its all the NSA stuff.

all in all this is a very sloppy article IMHO, this site is often much better than this.

Edited 6 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 8th June 2013 5:51am

4Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Fighting talk but of course PRIVACY matters, and the various attempts by certain factors to mount a media charm offensive to underplay this it is laughable...chances are, they (large corps have no choice but to sign various agreements) are all in cahoots with various govts to allow snooping through every backdoor, nook and cranny available

What Paul Johnson said :)
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Caleb Hale Journalist 8 years ago
Unfortunately, given the attention span of the American consumer, everyone who wants an Xbox One this Christmas is going to have forgotten about these NSA revelations. They are not going to remember Microsoft was one of the companies involved before buying a home gaming console from it with a high-def web cam they set up in their living rooms.

I also think Microsoft is banking on selling Xbox One and its software to a type of buyer that isn't going to necessarily think about playing these things 15 years down the road. The disposable society - the parents who buy paper plates because it's easier than doing the dishes.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
@Caleb - well, I guess that's when gaming goes from a hobby to a true luxury and prices/techs out those who just want a simpler experience. So much for the little guy, I guess. I find it hilarious that there's a "Well, if Sony does this too, I'm buying a Wii U!" phase happening out there lately. Oh, really? Of course, most of those folks just won't because if they thought the Wii U had the games they wanted to play and was worth a buy, some would have made the jump earlier.

THAT said, the whole "We're having E3 at Best Buy!" plan Reggie laid out in that Nintendo Direct video is 100% priceless and it'll get gamers into those stores to try out those demos in droves. That alone beats Microsoft's AND Sony's bigger conferences because folks won't need to see Nintendo's games through the opinion filter the other two companies' games will get. They'll just boogie on down, play what's coming and make up their own minds.

As it is, some of the current 360 owners who live in areas with spotty to no Internet connections are up in arms about the Xbox One, but they can't so a thing about it... er, other than move to an area with better reception (yeah, right) or just stick with the 360 until it's rendered "obsolete" by Microsoft...

Eh, we'll see tomorrow...
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 8 years ago
For what its worth after what I have seen from microsoft (still waiting on SONY).... with privacy concerns, used games issue, always online.... Im probably gonna end up owning a WiiU alongside one of the other consles if I do get them. While I cant say Im actually getting an XboxOne or a PS4. I can say Im getting a WiiU.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
David Serrano Freelancer 8 years ago
For multiple reasons which have nothing to do with gaming, my recommendation to the people I know will be to not purchase the XBO. And not to allow anyone in their home to purchase or install one.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Christopher Thigpen Lead Producer, Kiz Studios8 years ago
"There's a sucker born every minute"
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Zachary Green7 years ago
I agree. Most people are generally willing to agree that government surveillance is bad but are actually unwilling to change their lifestyle in any sort of accordance. Do people think that their phone might be monitoring them when they get a new one? Maybe, but they are still going to buy that new whatever-phone. Same with Xbox I believe, the decision to buy it or not will come from elsewhere, from other reasons, not because of a security issue per say.

Really this is almost a deeper issue then what we may perceive. The fact that the majority of us would rather keep on going with the flow, continue buying these products even though we know they might be against our great concerns, and just keep on ignoring the truth. Ah, but I'm rambling.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.