Xbox USB Storage Support to Bring 360 Slim?

Microsoft technical documents passed to Joystiq have confirmed that the firm is working on an update that will allow Xbox 360 users to use external USB hard drives to store game data on. Any device looks set to be compatible with a maximum size of 16GB set to be supported. Game saves can be backed up, transferred with ease and even organised into several devices. The update is scheduled for release this year and it looks like the days of the console’s proprietary memory units and hard drives may be numbered. Is this a bad thing?

In many ways, no, this news could bring a much needed revolution of next generation storage units. For too long have Microsoft been charging outrageous prices for storage devices worth not even half of their price. Compatibility for their supported console is the sole reason behind their sales and a lack of support for third-party memory units has shut out any form of competition. But why do Microsoft want to do this? What do they have to gain from the support of USB storage support?

512mb memory card Xbox USB Storage Support to Bring 360 Slim?

It would be nice to think that Microsoft simply wanted to give consumers a break and allow them to purchase larger memory units for less money. Unfortunately, Microsoft is not the kind of company that works in this way.

There must be some sort of benefit for them spending time and resources developing an update for third-party storage support and giving up a very profitable section of the Xbox 360 market and something tells me it’s not to help us gamers out during a difficult financial period. It could be because huge developments in the USB storage market have led to high-capacity devices that simply embarrass Microsoft’s current products.

Personally, I think the update is generally aimed at the much-rumoured Xbox 360 slim. Rumours of the new system are swiftly gathering momentum and it seems extremely likely that Microsoft are set to follow in Sony and Nintendo’s footsteps and create a heavily updated edition of their console. Of course, they are no strangers to this move. The Xbox 360 has a variety of different versions to tackle different sections of the market.

In March 2004, Microsoft launched the Crystal Xbox to celebrate the Xbox’s European birthday. Various other special editions of both Xbox consoles have been released, including the Xbox 360 Elite, Halo branded consoles and Final Fantasy, Forza 3 and Modern Warfare 2 special editions. However, these releases focus centrally on the consoles appearance and memory, offering nothing new in terms of reduced size or better console capabilities.

Xbox 360 Slim Fake Xbox USB Storage Support to Bring 360 Slim?

The Xbox 360 slim is set to change all of this and heavily tinker with the Xbox 360’s current design. In order to achieve a smaller console, there must be sacrifices. Storage is the easiest thing to remove and given the increasingly competitive battle with Sony’s PlayStation 3 – a known supporter of USB storage -the software giant may be amenable to expand its console’s functionality. The general feeling is that an update like this is long overdue. The three USB ports on the console would suggest that Microsoft had thought about USB devices when the 360 was in development. MP3 players, cameras and connection to a PC via USB cables are all 360 supported and now Microsoft have, finally, given way for USB storage to be supported to.

But will this new form of memory offer a new method of saving games, marketplace downloads and music or will they offer much more? Microsoft recently slipped up with the release of the ‘data transfer cable’, allowing the purchasers of the ‘Elite’ console to transfer saved game data and downloaded content from one hard drive to another via a computer. Modders have exploited the method and created content online that can be transferred to an Xbox 360 console and used to change the way games are played.

The most notorious example of modding can be seen on Modern Warfare 2. The popular game has seen modders and hackers corrupt the online community using hacked ‘jtag’ consoles to give players instant 10th prestige and all challenges. Hidden game modes have been uncovered and some games you are put into have double speed or super jump enabled. These modifications can harm a user’s online experience and the USB devices will only make modding easier. The transfer of data from PC to Xbox will now only take minutes using the new support and larger files can now be transferred.

It is frightening to see the amount of mods and hacks currently out there on the Xbox 360 and the USB devices will pave the way for even more. Less serious mods such as Gamerscore boosters, gamertag editors and XP hacks provide less cause for concern, but any modification that affects a users gameplay experience should be a big worry. Communities are now dedicated to console modding and more and more exploits are being created.

Modern Warfare 2 has been victim to continuous glitching and modding from its community and other popular games are set to be attacked. People target Modern Warfare and it’s arguably rushed online to find new glitches that can devastate the multiplayer aspect of the game. The ‘care package glitch’ and ‘javelin glitch’ have largely ruined the online and put off thousands of players. That the patches for these exploits have taken months is an even larger worry. Other games are set to be assaulted by modders.

While the PC community often thrives on its modding community, the console market has never experienced anything so drastic. It seems likely that the support of USB storage devices will pave the way for a new range of modding that could threaten the innocence of the costly Xbox Live. Unless Microsoft find a way of way of blocking unauthorised data using extremely complex security, then Xbox Live could find itself victim to the ever-increasing modding community.

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  • Senny Homes

    Microsoft technical documents passed to Joystiq have confirmed that the
    firm is working on an update that will allow Xbox 360 users to use
    external USB hard drives to store game data.

    xbox 360 slim

  • Senny Homes

    This is an excellent NEWS that X box 360 users to use external USB hard drives to store game data on.
    Any device looks set to be compatible with a maximum size of 16GB set
    to be supported.

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