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Remedy Announces How They Will Offer Quantum Break’s Live-Action Series to Players March 3, 2016

Posted by Maniac in Editorials, Game News.
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Quantum Break is scheduled to launch on the Xbox One and Windows 10 on April 5th, 2016. It is currently this website’s most anticipated new game. However, Quantum Break is more than just a game, it’s a four episode interactive TV series which unravels depending on your in-game decisions.

A few months ago, we wrote an essay series where we speculated on the best way that the game’s developer, Remedy, could deliver the live-action series to the game’s players.  After months of speculation (just from this website alone), Remedy revealed exactly how they planned to distribute Quantum Break‘s live-action series earlier this week.  By default, players can stream the episodes online through Xbox Live, but players will also be able to download the all of the game’s video content as free DLC. The problem is the game’s live-action series will not be included on the game’s retail disc. Since this was revealed, the Internet cried foul and called this a form of DRM.  Was Remedy wrong with their plans, or is the Internet blowing this all out of proportion?  Let’s break this down!

First up, we need to talk about how much video footage this game will be including. I predicted that the series would be at a minimum resolution of 1080p, but I didn’t have enough information to speculate about how much video content was produced for the game. Now we know that the show was actually shot in 4K, and there will be exactly four episodes with a minimum of 22 minutes of video footage for each episode. That means that there was a minimum of 88 minutes of 4K video footage shot for this game. Since the game adapts the series to your in-game decisions, many alternate takes have to be included, raising the amount of potential footage beyond the 88 minute mark. Sadly I don’t know the exact figures as to the total amount of video footage this game will have, but you can be sure that’s a lot of footage for a video game!

As I discussed in the essay I originally wrote about this subject, given the way that the Xbox One functioned and its technical limitations, there were only three options for players to watch this live-action series, and they all had their downsides.  The first was to offer all of the video files for the TV series on the game’s disc.  A Blu-Ray Disc currently has a storage capacity of about 55GB, and has the ability to output uncompressed and compressed video files in 1080p at a consistent framerate, although this generation’s hardware doesn’t use that functionality for game discs.

There are a few problems with including the live-action footage on the game’s disc, and the biggest problem is space. The game’s disc also has to include all of the game content’s and as per the rules of how the Xbox One works this generation, all of that disc content must be installed on the Xbox One’s Hard Drive before it can be played.  Given the fact that the Xbox One’s Hard Drive is irreplaceable, and most of them only have a storage capacity of 500GB, it’s a good bet if you have an Xbox One your Hard Drive is probably full. I know mine sure is. Whether Remedy decides to compress the live-action footage or not, it’s going to take up a lot of space on a game disc or on the Xbox One’s hard drive.

The second option is for the Quantum Break series to be streamed entirely off the web. This will be the default option the game will offer players. Nowadays, online streaming is unbearably common, whether it be through services like Twitch.TV, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, or even Xbox Live’s own Movies and TV app.  Depending on your connection speed, online users can stream 1080p or 4K video content to most internet capable devices instantly without risking using any of their machine’s internal storage capacity.  There’s also a precident for this option from previous games Microsoft published.  Microsoft chose to provide the companion series for the recent Halo games, Halo: Nightfall and Halo: The Fall of Reach, via Internet streaming though the Halo Channel app.

However, an online streaming option has a lot of downsides. Video streaming for the live-action series would be entirely dependent on the Xbox Live service.  Since the Xbox One launched in 2013 Xbox Live has had a pretty spotty service record. I can’t tell you how poor the video quality was for each of the Halo companion series on the initial week each series launched on the Halo Channel, or how many times I’ve had to wait days or weeks just to be notified I unlocked an in-game achievement.  That’s not including the times when the service just goes down completely, like it did just last week.  If the service ever went down (again), the player would completely miss out on an integral part of the game’s experience!

The third option is the second option players will be given if they purchase the game at retail or digitally, and that is to download the game’s video content off of Xbox Live as free DLC. That solves the problem of storage limitations on the game disc, empowers players to install the video content only if they want to (and they’re comfortable they have enough free space on their Xbox One’s Hard Drive) and should allow players to watch the video content even if they lose their connection to Xbox Live.

It looks like Remedy decided to go for a middle ground by offering players a choice in how they wanted the game’s live-action series presented to them.  While the game will stream the live-action video content by default, players will be able to download the video data directly from Xbox Live.  It’s not unreasonable to assume that Xbox One owners would have a high-speed internet connection. In fact, all Xbox One systems require online activation before they can be used, and although an Internet connection is not needed for the Xbox One to function after that, there are so many benefits to keeping your Xbox One connected to the Internet, most players choose to do so.

In short, this sounded like a difficult decision that had to be made to solve a technical hurdle with this generation of game consoles. While this decision will not make everyone happy, the logic behind it seems sound. I guess it will be left up to the gamers to decide if they still have faith in this fledging franchise.

Hope you enjoyed this article. More Quantum Break news will be on the way!

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