Microsoft Listening to Reason? DRM-free XBox 1?

… Wow.  I don’t know what to say.

Honestly I was planning to post my review for Spec Ops: The Line, but as I was checking the news on the Escapist Magazine’s site I saw this article: “Microsoft Drops XBox One DRM Restrictions.”

Apparently it’s true.  According to one of Microsoft’s Presidents, Don Mattrick, Microsoft is completely reversing a lot of its previous design decisions about the XB1.  In his statement, Mr. Mattrick said,

Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback.  I would like  to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to  reshape the future of Xbox One.  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.  We appreciate your passion, support and willingness to challenge the  assumptions of digital licensing and connectivity.  While we  believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud  for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both  physical and digital content. We have listened and we have heard loud and clear  from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds.

Rereading this, I can’t help but laugh.  It’s like they were actually surprised people didn’t some company telling them how to play their games.  But oversights aside, what does this actually mean for the system?  Here are the changed features:

  • No online requirement!  The biggest change is that your XB1 will no longer become a giant brick if it isn’t connected to the internet every day.  A connection is required for the initial setup, but after that you can play offline.  Obviously you still have to be online for multiplayer & to make use of the Cloud features.
  • Used games aren’t blocked!  Game discs will work the same as they do now.  You won’t have to input codes that tie game copies to your account.  You can resell old games, buy used games, rent games & trade with friends.
  • No region locking!

Essentially, these changes mean the new features of the XB1 (now officially dubbed by the gaming community as the XBox 180) that logically require internet do while those that shouldn’t be affected by offline access don’t.  Which, in my opinion, is the way it should have been in the first place.  Seriously.  If Microsoft had done it this way they wouldn’t have to back pedal now.  Of course, there are still a few unanswered questions, like what is the policy on digital games.

I have to admit, I’m surprised.  With all of the effort Microsoft was putting into justifying the XB1, I was certain they would let the company crash & burn before changing things.  I figured the infrastructure of the console couldn’t be changed at this point.  It makes me wonder why they didn’t do it this way in the first place.  If these requirements weren’t actually required, why foist them on gamers in the first place?  I mean, for months before they revealed the XB1 gamers were fretting over whether or not the next consoles would put these sorts of restrictions on them.  Microsoft had plenty of time to realize how bad an idea this was.  Maybe they thought they could sell it & it took nearly the whole of the community raging against it for them to realize how screwed they were.

Still, while I’m glad Microsoft has come to their senses, I’m still a bit leery.  If Microsoft can just change their policies like that, who’s to say they can’t change them back later once people have bought the system.  I’m not entirely comfortable giving my money to a company that’s already shown they care more about publishers than gamers.  But I also think we should show support when companies do change their ways for our benefit.  For now, I’m just going to wait & see.  I don’t plan on buying any new system right when it first comes out (I’ll probably wait until the beginning of the new year).  I’m still leaning towards the PS4, but at least now I’ll be sparing the XB180 a glance.  Hopefully by then we’ll know if Microsoft is going to stay true to their word.

– GamerDame

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