Microsoft Does Right, Corrects Xbox One DRM Requirements

eHow Tech Blog

When Microsoft recently announced its newest gaming console, the Xbox One, the company originally said that there were going to be limitations for trade-ins and sharing games, as well as a requirement to “check in” online once every 24 hours in order to verify that your games are legitimate. Why? Digital rights management, or DRM for short. I’ll discuss that in a moment.

That move scared gamers like myself, because this meant that should you want to trade games with a friend — as many like to do with every other gaming console — you wouldn’t be able to.

In addition, the online check-in limitation would keep you from playing games if you lost your Internet connection for any length of time, and DRM protection would mean that you need to own the game to play it. While the gaming community certainly understands that some amount of DRM is necessary, Microsoft’s moves seemed too drastic. After all, we don’t always have Internet connections, and half the fun of gaming is sharing the experience with friends and family.

Thankfully, Microsoft recently backpedaled on its DRM commitments, removing all of those requirements altogether. “An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games,” the company clarified in an official statement. “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.”

Microsoft also said it won’t limit anyone’s ability to share a game, whether it’s used or not, and promised that the system in place on the Xbox 360 today will be the same on the Xbox One. There also aren’t any regional locks.

It was a wise decision for Microsoft — albeit one that came only after a significant public backlash — because Sony has said that the PlayStation 4 won’t be as strict on DRM. That could have meant that potentially millions of customers might have chosen the PlayStation 4 over the Xbox One, simply based on the sharing and online rules alone. Indeed, it’s entirely possible that not only Sony, but others such as Apple and Valve (through its Steam service), could have tempted others to jump ship from Xbox en masse.

So where do we go from here? Right now it seems like gamers are pleased with Microsoft’s decision, though there are certainly other sticky points. Redmond has said it won’t include a headset in the box, for example, though I don’t expect that this will be much of a problem for most consumers. The tougher selling point will be the price, which comes in at $500 – that’s $100 more than Sony’s PlayStation 4 and $200 more than the entry-level Wii U. Rafi Mohammed, an economist and the author of The Art of Pricing recently said that the pricing has the potential to “derail the Xbox One for the upcoming holiday season.”

The Xbox One is expected to launch by the holidays. The launch should include titles like Watch Dogs, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Need for Speed: Rivals, Battlefield 4 and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

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