In a move that has sent awe-confused ripples through the gaming community and set every gaming and technology internet forum afire, Microsoft has reversed their stringent DRM and online restrictions for the Xbox One. I have been around for every incarnation of a “next-gen” console since I was given a NES for Christmas back in the late 1980’s and I have never seen anything like this. For “features” that were touted by several high-ranking MS employees to be intricate and fundamental to how the console works, this reversal on their own policy creation is confusing and shocking, to say the least. It’s like a politician flip-flopping on their own failed policies, trying to sustain damage control. But is the damage already done? Can Microsoft regain the legions of once XBOX faithful to their floundering console (which hasn’t even been released yet) who have already claimed to switch over to Sony’s PS4, or is it to little, to late? Also, if it’s this easy for MS to remove these features 6 months before the consoles release that they apparently worked so hard to implement, whose to say that they won’t again reverse their policies once the Xbox One has a solid foot hold in the market via a firmware update?
MS certainly has an uphill battle to climb from here on out, but this policy reversal may have done more damage than good. Even though many gamers, journalists and bloggers were criticizing MS for their anti-consumer approach towards their next-gen console, many also considered the Xbox One’s always online and DRM to be true features of a next-generation console. The capability to share any game that has been installed on your system amongst 10 designated family or friends and the new features to be able to resell or share your digital downloads on Microsoft’s always connected landscape have now been removed in favor of the more tried and true tangible copy of game lending, selling or reselling. Here is the full blog post from Microsoft Xbox Chief Don Mattrick, straight from the horses mouth:
“Last week at E3, the excitement, creativity and future of our industry was on display for a global audience.
For us, the future comes in the form of Xbox One, a system designed to be the best place to play games this year and for many years to come. As is our heritage with Xbox, we designed a system that could take full advantage of advances in technology in order to deliver a breakthrough in game play and entertainment. We imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing, and new ways to try and buy games. We believe in the benefits of a connected, digital future.
Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One.
You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.
So, today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. Here is what that means:
- An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
- Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.
In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console — there will be no regional restrictions.
These changes will impact some of the scenarios we previously announced for Xbox One. The sharing of games will work as it does today, you will simply share the disc. Downloaded titles cannot be shared or resold. Also, similar to today, playing disc based games will require that the disc be in the tray.
We appreciate your passion, support and willingness to challenge the assumptions of digital licensing and connectivity. While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content. We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds.
Thank you again for your candid feedback. Our team remains committed to listening, taking feedback and delivering a great product for you later this year.”
-Microsoft Xbox Chief Don Mattrick