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Daily Reaction: Microsoft Drops Xbox One DRM & Allows Used Games – What Now?


With the recent announcement that Microsoft is dropping their 24 hour check-in and block of used games on Xbox One, the Daily Reaction crew of Seb and Dan discuss what this means for the industry as we move forward.

Dan: In an announcement on the Xbox blog, Microsoft’s President of Interactive Entertainment, Don Mattrick, released a statement saying:

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.

Honest, I don’t know what took Microsoft so long to recant all of the bad decisions they have been making over the last few months. The design concepts they implemented with their Xbox One became a noose around their throat, that only tightened the more they tried to talk about it. Now, Microsoft is trying to stop from choking on their own decisions by saying that “your feedback matters” – which could be true, as the recent figures coming off of Amazon’s poll show that only 5% of people voting were going to pick up the Xbox One, and 95% were looking at the PS4. Although, more than likely with all of the rumblings of GameStop taking issue against the XBO, I could see that being the biggest factor for MS to write this apology letter.

As MS have now decided to backpedal away from the DRM issue, they will have to spend a great deal of time fixing public perception as well as reteaching what the real facts are surrounding the now duly named “Xbox 180”. The belief that the Xbox blocks games and requires a check in will persist with some gamers well past launch of the console, as information is easy to get the out to the mainstream the first time, but they rarely keep up to date with the news. Similarly, early in the PS3’s lifecycle the system was trying to shake off the stigma that it had no games, a problem that many gamers believed to be true for years after launch, despite having many first-party exclusives.

Sadly, Xbox gamers who were pissed off that they will have to pay $100 more to have their Kinect always watching and listening to them will still have to deal with those issues, but at least now they can use their system. Microsoft really learned a lesson this generation – don’t be stupid.

Seb: Yeah, this is a huge decision and, finally, a smart one. Ideally, MS should never have gone down the DRM route in the first place, of course, but it’s good news that they finally came to their senses. They never talked to publishers about it – if they had, they would have realized EA and Ubisoft didn’t want to charge, rendering it pointless. They never talked to GameStop – if they had, they would have realized that the PS4 would be pushed far more. They never looked at their own stats – if they had, they would have realized that 30 million 360 owners don’t use XBL and so don’t connect to the internet with their console. They never talked to consumers – if they had, they would have realized that we’d go batshit crazy. And they never counted on Sony not following them – which made the PS4 the clear choice for many.

Finally they’ve listened, and this is a victory for the consumer, make no mistake about it.

But it still puts them in a very tricky situation. Much of their online plans centered around the check-in, with the ‘game sharing’ and special account features all requiring this 24hr-check in to exist. Hell, that was the whole point of the check in, they claimed. It future proofed the console and made it perfect, they claimed. In numerous interviews they said that the fact that all the consoles were connected was a ‘game changer’, that it meant developers could create ultimate online experiences unlike anything on “other platforms”. Now their entire XBL plans for the next 10 years are in disarray, they’ve got to start all over trying to work out what makes the console special, and they only have a few months left before launch. Oops.

It’s also worth pointing out that the One still requires a one-off internet connection at the start, so that’ll stop the really internet challenged players from getting it.

So what does this mean for the PS4 then? Of course that’s one big unique selling point taken away from Sony’s console, and that’ll mean that less people will have a reason to buy it. Crucially, retailers will also not completely favor it and push the product so that they can make more profits on used games.

This news will hurt the PS4’s sales, but the fact that the Xbox One DRM issue ever existed will count in their favor – consumer confusion is going to remain, Sony gets to look like the good guy and people still won’t trust Microsoft not to screw them later on. Plus, they’re not the ones having to rewrite their online plans overnight.

The playing field has been leveled considerably, and purchasing decisions will come down to loyalty, games and price. The console war is back on, folks.

But we should all agree that this is a good move for the industry. This is a wake up call to platform holders and publishers that think we’ll accept whatever they shove down our gullets with a smile on our face. And, if MS is now in the habit of listening to feedback – change the name, it’s stupid, no one likes it and it’s a lie because it’s not ‘all-in-one’, you need a cable box too. Oh, and let me disconnect my Kinect so I can game naked in peace.

What do you think of the news? Are you ready to pre-order an Xbox One now? Do you trust Microsoft after they recounted on their previous statements? Share your thoughts in the comments below, email 180 jokes to [email protected] and check in on our Twitters every 24hrs at Seb ‘n’ Dan.