Microsoft Planning USB Storage Connectivity for Xbox 360

An online report suggests Microsoft will soon be offering Xbox 360 console owners the ability to plug in USB devices, though any such device would first require a compatibility test.

Microsoft is planning to announce USB storage support for its Xbox 360 game console, citing the "increased market penetration of high-capacity, high throughput USB mass storage devices." The report comes from the video game blog Joystiq, which said it obtained a document written by a senior software programmer at Microsoft, and reveals the USB storage capability would come through an Xbox 360 system update this year.
The blog also posted screencaps of the system software that showed a USB device connected to the console as a memory storage device. Joystiq also reported any USB device used would require a compatibility check and require a minimum of 1GB of storage space. "USB storage devices may, however, have far greater memory capacity than MUs (at the date of writing, the largest MU is 512 MB), and may therefore support previously infeasible operations--such as installation of a full disc-based title," the blog quoted the document as saying.
Xbox owners will also reportedly have two options on how the USB device is used by the console, with "Configure now" and "Customize" settings that allow a user to choose between occupying the entire storage capacity of the device or limiting the usable storage space to 16 GB, respectively. While companies such as Microsoft and Sony are offering consoles with large memory capacities or the ability to connect storage devices to their consoles, another company is attempting to lure customers to cloud-based gaming.
Earlier this month, OnLive, a deliverer of on-demand, instant-play video games, announced the PC and Mac versions of its game service would begin rolling out to consumers on June 17 at the E3 video games trade show. The OnLive Game Service is an on-demand video game platform capable of delivering games via a broadband connection on virtually any PC or Mac, via a small browser plug-in, or on an HDTV, via the company's MicroConsole TV Adapter. OnLive will charge customers $14.95 a month to rent or purchase games from publishers including Ubisoft, THQ and Electronic Arts (EA).
All this news comes amid a gloomy period for the video games industry. Sales continued their decline in February, down 15 percent compared with the same period last year, the NPD Group reported last week. Year-to-date, industry sales are down 14 percent, to $2.4 billion, in comparison to the same period in 2009.