Microsoft has taken a lot of heat since the unveiling of the Xbox One for their DRM policies and internet requirements. While most potential buyers were up in arms about the idea that the system would handle things differently than the Xbox 360 currently does, Microsoft had a lot of really good points and features that they were trying to introduce. Due to community feedback (and outrage) today Microsoft has issued an update to their DRM, used game and internet connection policies.
For starters, to play single player games, the Xbox One will no longer require an internet connection. After an initial one-time setup (not sure if this is a one-time setup for the Xbox One or, for each individual game) any disc based game can be played offline without ever having to connect to the internet, just like the Xbox 360.
DRM policies have been updated so that there are now no limitations to sharing, using games or trading in disc based games. The system will handle disc based games the same as the current generation consoles do. Downloaded games will be able to be played offline similar to how they are handled today. Microsoft also noted that there will be no regional restrictions on the console.
While many people will call this a victory for the internet and swarms of angry fans, I actually think that this dampens the Xbox One and the plans that Microsoft had. Along with this “good” news, Microsoft noted that some of the previously announced scenarios and features of the Xbox One will no longer be valid. Downloaded titles can not be shared or resold, and sharing games requires the physical disc be in the tray in order for it to be played. One of the promising features of the Xbox One, was the digital library of games so that you could go to a friend’s house, log in on their console with your ID and access all of your games. Now you have to bring your games with you to your friend’s house in order to play a game there. Also if you’ve purchased a game digitally there is no re-sale of that game, a feature that was previously going to be available with the Xbox One’s initial scheme.
This also means that Microsoft can’t guarantee developers that gamers will always be connected to the internet, which can potentially limit features and capabilities that the developers were looking forward to. This also means that digital distribution of games becomes less of a bonus and benefit than it was before, Steam does a great job with digital distribution and charges gamers less per game, now with the changed plans from Microsoft, it looks like digital games will end up costing what disc based games cost so there is no benefit to the consumer.
I for one thought that Microsoft was taking a huge risk with their stances but the short-term outcry was going to be outweighed by the benefits and features that the new system would offer. Now the Xbox One may not live up to its original potential, just because bloggers and trolls couldn’t accept the idea of change to the system. Now Microsoft will have to combat piracy in another way, which in all reality was the largest driver behind the internet connection and DRM policies to begin with. So Pirates, congratulations, you won this round.