Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Microsoft Reverses DRM and Always Online Policies for Xbox One

I don't really want to keep writing post after post about the Xbox One, but the story keeps unfolding.  I had to at least mention the DRM policy reversal.

Microsoft made one of the biggest "about face"s since, well...I don't have a good reference.  Maybe some Charlie Sheen/Two and a Half Men reference would work.  Basically they had some forward thinking ideas about how gamers could consume and "share" games in the next gen.  They had the idea of tying games to your Xbox account.

I had no problem with this as I rarely buy used games.  I either want to be first on board for a high profile multiplayer game or I buy into the hype and by the time a game is released I can't live without diving right in.  Recently I've been wanting to get games on day 1 to eliminate things being spoiled.  I've had a busy week so I've not been able to finish The Last of Us so I'm trying to dodge every blog post or YouTube video about it because these days a week after a game is out, people think it's ok to put spoilers in the headlines.

Anyhow, I know I'm not everyone and I know that used games are a popular way to save a few bucks on the title.  But, I can totally get behind the game developers having their own DRM policies like Online Passes.  I know my 12 year old nephew just thinks that forcing $10 on top of a used game seems like robbery and no matter how much I tell him that the developers won't make any money off the resold game and they're providing a service by running the game servers online won't make him see it differently.  But the industry really should continue to be more strict on this.  I was sad to see EA cave under consumer outcry over Project 10 Dollar.  I'm sad to see Xbox change direction on their next gen game policies and it's not just because I want Sony to "win" the console ware (though I do because I'm a bit of a fan boy).

The fact is I often side with the business.  Yes the music industry was incredibly bloated and the labels have too much control and they were slow to adapt, but that doesn't mean that piracy isn't stealing.  Yeah they need to price music at a cost the market can bare and the MP3 was a major disruption to their industry, but we shouldn't "stick it to the man."  Stuff like that is one of many factors that forces the price back up.

When it comes to games, we need to really start looking at it for what it is.  Software.  We buy the physical disk, because it transports software to our console.  Game software, especially with the expectations we have today with patches, DLC, online multiplayer, etc... is more of a service than we'd like to admit.  If the Xbox One would have foregone the optical drive and just had downloadable games, what would the story be?  Probably still the same, but it's because of expectations set by the last generation.

Let's look at mobile games.  I certainly can't sell it or share it.  Well, I can kind of share it through my iTunes account and that seems reasonable that my wife and I can share the same game purchased by me.  Guess what?...that's pretty much what Microsoft was thinking.

So, anyhow now the Xbox One will require a Day One Update to it's whole OS to drop the always online requirement and make people change disks to play a game like they do today.  Next time you need to get off the couch, search through your game boxes, snap open the case, take the previous game or movie out, put it away, open the next case, put the game in, walk back over to the couch, scroll through the menu and launch the game, don't ask yourself if there could be a better way, because there was, but you'll be doing this routine for the next decade anyway.

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