Well well well… look at what happens when people speak out against anti-consumer practices: things can change. We won’t get into all that has been wrong with Microsoft’s Xbox One console since its announcement, because by now, it should all be clear as day. It was clear that the masses (or, at least the most vocal ones) were not pleased with many of Xbox One’s DRM policies, and now, Microsoft has announced that it’s pulling back on a lot of them.
Don Mattrick, the same fella who just last week recommended people buy an Xbox 360 who need to be offline, appears to have had a change of heart. In a news post on the official Xbox website, he states:
“You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.“
Xbox One: DRM Now Left Out of the Box
What does this all mean?
- No more 24-hour check-in: You’ll no longer be required to connect to the Internet at least once-per-day in order to “phone home” and validate licenses. After the initial console setup, disc-based games can be played sans Internet connection. This is great for those who find themselves without Internet connections, like the military or someone who simply wants to go away for the weekend.
- No used games hassle: You will now be free to trade disc-based games at will. There will be no limited number of times that this can be done, and it doesn’t need to go through a third-party.
- No region-locking: That’s right – play your Japanese import on your North American console.
Those points are the upside. The downside is that some functionality will be lost, such as the ability to share games amongst friends (a feature that admittedly had few details up-to-this-point). Other points can be gleaned from an article at Gizmodo, where author Kyle Wagner wholeheartedly believes we screwed-up in forcing Microsoft’s hand to change. I can’t say I agree with him – at all - but it’s an interesting perspective.
With Microsoft changing its policies, has it changed your mind at all whether or not you’d consider an Xbox One as your next-generation console? Personally… no, not at all. This move to me isn’t being done because Microsoft appreciates its customers. We’ve seen countless examples in the past week where Microsoft’s own support vendors have been cocky in their response to fans. And again, Mattrick is the same guy who last week told people that the Xbox 360 is the console to get if you want to be offline – or avoid any of these other gotchas.
Microsoft is doing this because it has to (or, it at least feels it has to), not because it wants to. Given all the evidence seen since E3, I refuse to believe that Microsoft suddenly had a change of heart. And that means that certain measures could just as easily be re-added in down the road, although given all of the hassle, I doubt it’ll happen.
That said, an improvement is an improvement, so for those that must have an Xbox One, this is likely a good change all-around. There are still a couple of issues, as we discussed last week, but they are minor in the grand scheme (though some might not agree, regarding Kinect’s always-on functionality).