Microsoft Reverses Xbox One DRM And Online Policies

Posted by Bob Muir on Jun 20, 2013 in Videogames |

Xbox One

As much as Microsoft tried to impress with the Xbox One at last week’s E3, they and all the developers working on games for the system couldn’t shake one thing: the shadow of the console’s DRM and online policies. Microsoft hoped to steer the conversation away after Sony showed them up with their support of used games and no online requirements, but very little they said was positive in the eyes of gamers. It’s likely that shareholders also weren’t happy with Microsoft’s stock dropping while Sony’s rose. Microsoft’s narrative even suffered after Jimmy Fallon got a big applause from his audience for mentioning that the PS4 supported used games. Well, it’s finally happened. After all that, Microsoft has blinked.

In a statement on their news service, Xbox head Don Mattrick announced that feedback had been taken into account and they would be changing several Xbox One policies. Games would now be treated just as they were on Xbox 360. There will be no constant online connection needed to play games, no check-in every 24 hours to play offline. Games will be able to be traded, lent, and sold just as before, which means used games will play on the system no matter who played it first. Because of this, the whole license system for retail games will be abandoned.

Of course, there will be trade-offs. The most inoffensive one is that the system will require an online connection when you first buy it, simply to download a patch changing the way the system works; but after that, you’ll never need to connect again if you’re just playing retail games. Downloaded games will function as they do now — something I consider to be a fine system — but will be unable to be traded or lent to other players. If you install a game from the disc, it will still have to be in the disc tray to verify that you own the game. And the Xbox Family Plan, where you can unite with 9 other people to associate licenses with and play them anywhere, will not be offered.

While there were a few interesting ideas to come out of Microsoft’s original plan for Xbox One, the actions were very anti-consumer and hurtful to the continuing value of games. This is a sign that consumer desires can directly impact a company’s decisions; Microsoft and their shareholders clearly weren’t happy to hear that their policies would result in many consumers switching to PS4.

Now the question is how much damage has been done. Many have already written off Microsoft and placed preorders for PS4, the console that seems to respect them as consumers. While I’m happy to be able to pick up the Xbox One, which features the controller I’d prefer to use, I can’t help but wonder how many multiplatform games I’ll buy for the system. Microsoft has listened to reason, but sown distrust among its audience. Predictions now are tough, but Microsoft could still be reeling from the damage they’ve done to their image for years to come.

Source: Xbox Wire

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