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A "Fanboy" Reaction to Microsoft's DRM Retraction

The whole of today has, for gamers, revolved around the monumental bombshell Microsoft dropped this afternoon when they decided to amend their decisions about DRM and change the structure of the Xbox One to be more in-line with Sony’s “open” attitude towards game sharing and to be a console without online check-ins.

At first glance I wrote it off. It was something that I had already figured would be a possibility. With the amount of flack that the company was getting and the pre-order numbers that were starting to be released (along with accompanying articles being published) Microsoft had to do something to address the concerns.

The announcement was going to be a cliff-note in the return of TL;DR. A couple of brief words about what happened, what changed, and a link to the original announcement post from Microsoft directly.

However, the more I think about it the more upset I become that the old generation of gamers are hindering progress just because they don’t understand that a company has rights, just as they have rights as consumer.

Two major features, which were ones that I had personal interest in (one of which was the reason I put down my deposit for an Xbox One as soon as the conference ended), have now been removed from the future release of the console:

·         One-time install of disc-based games, allowing you the ability to switch between games without having to switch between discs and manage your entire collection digitally (while still having physical media, providing the best of both worlds for collectors and people who hate getting up to swap games).

·         Game sharing. For all the bluster of the Sony conference, and those that went online to shout rage because Microsoft wasn’t letting them trade their games in… Microsoft had also promoted a use of digital game sharing with a Steam-like mentality of allowing up to TEN separate people/consoles access the same content and library of a single account. It seems far easier for me to offer a friend a login to play a game, then to have to meet up with them and physically hand them a disc… but apparently that’s just me.

Speaking honestly, and maybe this will get me labeled as a “fanboy,” I think Microsoft was smart to try something new. I love the idea of digital distribution and sharing via a login rather than having to physically swap discs.

I appreciate the fact that Microsoft was building a new console for a new generation. Rather than a console release just being about new processor, graphics card, and a larger hard-drive Microsoft was trying to build an entirely new system for how games are released, shared, and enjoyed by the next generation of gamers.

I found the announcements of Xbox One at E3 this year to be exciting. And as for the downsides that everyone was griping about, and eventually became the downfall of the feature-set I’d plopped down my $500 for? Well, let’s all take one giant step backwards and look at how horrible these requirements to establish the features that I’m talking about really were:

“Always on” – Which Microsoft did say is actually a once-every-twenty-four-hours policy.
Microsoft was going to have us ‘check-in’ once every 24 hours to make sure that we were legitimate. A requirement that is necessary for digital distribution to ensure that we weren’t just installing the game and then selling it to EB (essentially getting a game for free).

In a world without a “disc-in-tray” mentality there has to be SOMETHING and checking in once every 24 hours (to me) isn’t that big of a deal.

I have never gone 24 hours without an internet connection. Even in the days of dial-up internet and 14.4 modems I could get online once a day with no problem. Every single ISP out there is pushing to have faster and more reliable internet at all times. Hell, I’ve even had my Xbox 360 online in a hotel room during PAX.

I’ve never experienced two days without being able to get online. If I did, I would be freaking out at my ISP, not at the company that built the gaming console that I play on.

Disc Sharing/Used Games
First of all, complaining about disc sharing is ridiculous when Microsoft has the system built in to allow you to share your entire library with up to 10 friends/family members. I could not believe people were upset about the fact that Microsoft was going to have you share digitally rather than physically. It’s a silly argument from my point of view.

Second, for used game sales, Microsoft’s discussion about used games ended with “it’s up to the publisher” which is actually the same thing Sony said in their meetings after the conference. At least Microsoft was open with the fact that it was something they were leaving up to the publisher. Sony yelled out “share all the things!” then walked off stage and whispered “share some of the things.” That, to me, is a bigger dick-move. I’m reminded of the saying “don’t piss in my ear and tell me it’s raining.”

Microsoft and Sony were not intending to charge people for “activation” of a disc that was already registered on another account.

First party titles, for both consoles, were DRM free. Microsoft AND Sony both said they would leave the option for charging for activation on the install of a game on another account was at the discretion of the publisher themselves; which, for the record, is how it works today.

So, while I might be in the minority (maybe I really am the only person that was excited for a complete overhaul of how we view media and distribution) there was no way I could, in good conscience, hold my tongue when just yesterday I made the declaration that we were an open and honest video game site that would speak their minds without censorship.

So consider this my “Ian rant.”

Everyone that had bitched and complained about the Xbox One policies for digital distribution, DRM, and used-games policies:

Congratulations. You “won.” We will be continuing the next generation with the same mentalities of the previous generation. Rather than an overhaul of the industry and how we receive/share/play our games we now get the standard console-cycle bullshit of tweaks to the CPU, GPU, and HDD size.

We are now back to square one with the console wars being based on nothing more than the age old debate of Jack Johnson vs. John Jackson for president of the planet.

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[Microsoft's original announcement here]