Tobold's Blog
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Microsoft backpedals

I would have liked to see how DRM actually affects purchase behaviour, but it is not to be: Microsoft backpedalled and removed the restrictions from the XBone, apparently feeling the heat from bad E3 publicity. The Xbox One will now *not* need an internet connection once a day, and will play used (and pirated) games just fine. You still need internet once to set up the console when you buy it, but that is it. In fact there is now nearly no difference between the XBone and the PS4 regarding DRM.

What Microsoft didn't do, and which I think will hurt them much more, is lowering the price of the XBone by $100.

Hopefully this incident will make people more suspicious of claims that an undesired feature cannot be disabled because the system was built around it.
Also, it still requires Kinect to work. So...creepy always-on tracking device in your home plus you get to pay $100 more for it....yeaaah.
They also ditched all their 'brave new digital future' plans along with the DRM, which to me feels a lot like a dummy-spit - taking their ball and going home.

The fact is that daily DRM checks didn't provide any benefit to the consumer whatsoever, and were there exclusively to look over your shoulder and make sure you're not a filthy pirate.

If they'd gone the Steam route - authenticate on activation - they'd have been able to claim they had parity with Steam on user-friendly DRM, and keep the digital aspects which would only force a check-in whenever you're lending out a game, or if you are the one trying to receive a borrowed game. It's reasonable because you can see that it's being used to facilitate something of benefit to you. Daily checks? Not of any benefit to you. Harder to swallow, more resentment.

I can't see why they tied this to the daily-DRM, and although some 'filthy pirates' probably would've taken issue with the more unobtrusive DRM that comes with activation-only, I expect the outcry wouldn't have been what it was.
I am surprised they completely folded on this issue. As Cam says above, I think they rolled back too far on this issue. It is the unavoidable future so we should be at least moving forwards in little steps.
Microsoft didn't back pedal. Publishers did. They wanted the feature but when the proverbial hit the fan they pulled the rug out from under MS. Quite a betrayal.

This announcement by MS is simply them saying "screw you then" to the publishers.

I have no doubt that publishers will simply adopt their own solutions on both systems. Expect more Sim Cities! Personally I'd have preferred a once a day check in.

Be careful what you wish for, this victory is likely to backfire on consumers.

I had no issue with anti piracy features that offered no direct benefit to me just so long as I was not too heavily penalised. To all but a financially insignificant minority the once a day checks were fine.

My PS3 connects once a day to do updates as part of the Playstation Plus package. Yup on PS3 a once a day check in is considered a premium feature!


If you have a modern phone it is monitoring your face, eyes and voice all day long.

So it turns out Microsoft REALLY wanted to screw their users. One more reason to seriously consider another platform.
Rugus, why do you think Microsoft wanted to screw users?

They were being manipulated and were hung out to dry when it backfired. The real villains are still out their plotting....

Not that I consider them villains but that's another argument.

As far as this topic goes, Microsoft are the fall guy. I will give Sony credit for walking the fine line and not getting screwed by the publishers.
The "internet required" stuff was meant to be a "must have", something that was non-negotiable. But as soon as numbers spoke the truth (Sony Vs Microsoft) they promptly changed their mind.

I mean, it's not like Xbone made a 180° turn in few months, supporting the idea that a connection was actually mandatory: it all happened in few days.
Seems like they were ready to adjust to circumstances.

It gives me hope that Windows 8.2 will finally be mouse-ready.
They adjusted when the publishers that demanded the systems for which MS were taking the flack refused to stand side by side and support them.

Or possibly the publishers refused to give unfavourable terms to Sony for not playing ball so MS no longer had any reason to comply.

I don't agree that connecting once every 24 hours was a problem anyway. MS had done the Math and knew that those who could not even manage to do that were not worth keeping as customers. The nuclear sub argument is a weak red herring by those who want free games by borrowing those of friends or pirating.

Single player games are struggling with their financial viability so the trading won't continue. They will stop making such games or the pubs will introduce their own DRM. The days of free or cheap lunches are over.
"Microsoft didn't back pedal. Publishers did. They wanted the feature but when the proverbial hit the fan they pulled the rug out from under MS. Quite a betrayal."

Microsoft isn't the victim here. They made a calculation about the revenues they would get from the online store vs losses from offline gamers and people that wanted the status quo on 2nd hand games.

Weighing it up, they decided the former was worth the latter. It was a no-brainer, as they assumed that Sony would do the same.

They could have persisted with the strategy but were instead out-PRed.
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