When the Xbox One was first announced it almost instantly came under fire due to rumors surrounding the system’s DRM requirements.
Eventually Microsoft confirmed the Xbox One would require you to check in every 24 hours, and would limit how/when/why you trade or share games. Additionally, all games would be installed to your HDD completely – with no real need or use for game discs.
During E3, Sony gained quite a bit of positive attention, as the company made it clear they would NOT be going down a similar route as the One. The negative response from gamers got so bad for Microsoft that the company has now completely reversed its plans for the Xbox One – long before it hits stores later this year.
Here’s what Don Mattrick, Microsoft’s president of interactive entertainment, had to say:
“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.”
So what does this mean? Basically, when the console launches this November it will work very similarly to the Xbox 360.
You will not need to worry about logging in every 24 hours in order to keep your system running. You also will no longer need to worry about used games restrictions, as games will no longer require you to install them on your system and will work just like 360 games. This means you can freely trade and sell games as you see fit.
It is important to note that the Xbox One will still require you to have an online connection in order to set-up the system from day one.
There are also some word choice elements used by Microsoft that seem to suggest some of its restrictions might still be in place, though that’s just speculation on my part. For example, Microsoft states:
, “After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again.”
Focus on the disc-based game part. Microsoft hasn’t confirmed whether it is still possible to fully install your titles onto your HDD, removing the need for a disc. If it is, will these titles still require you to check in or limit trade/sell? Hard to say for sure at this point.
Either way, these new changes seem to be great news for those that didn’t like the idea of Xbox One’s restrictions.
So what went wrong in the first place?
Was Microsoft’s plans for the Xbox One so awful? Yes and no. Honestly – somewhat like Windows 8 – Microsoft’s biggest issue wasn’t necessarily that it was bringing huge changes, it was failure to properly explain them.
Windows 8’s new UI and its long-term vision do in some ways make sense (though that’s an argument for a different day), it’s just that Microsoft didn’t really give us a real WHY.
For the Xbox One, I personally believe Microsoft had a clear vision for a future of digital content sharing. It saw the disc drive going away and it was taking steps to move into that direction.
While major opponents of Xbox One restrictions might fail to see this, the online-always and locked-in game approach did open so interesting doors that went beyond just DRM. For example, Microsoft was creating a way to make a “family/friend” group of 10 special users that would basically have full access to each other’s games.
This worked because Microsoft locked the games to specific Xbox Live accounts and could make sure that the games weren’t be used concurrently by all ten users, etc. With the Xbox One restriction removal – this feature is believed to no longer be in the pipeline, unless it still applies to digital downloaded content.
Some of the special TV and multi-tasking features also might have been enhanced by an always-on approach.
The Xbox One’s vision wasn’t so different from the PS4
The reality is that what Microsoft was hoping to accomplish doesn’t seem much different than Sony’s long-term goal. Both companies see a huge future in digital, locked-down content. The big difference here was implementation. Like with Windows 8 once again, Microsoft made the choice to force users to use the new Modern UI in replacement of the traditional start menu – instead of making it an option.
With the PS4, Sony is pushing digital content hard. Downloading will receive quite a bit of focus, and they are using features like streaming to make downloading better than ever. You don’t have to wait for a full download to complete to start playing a game on the PS4, thanks to the power of streaming you could be up and playing in a matter of 15 minutes or so.
Sony is making its digital push, cloud saving and online-focused structure optional. Microsoft wasn’t. With this change to a DRM-free approach, Microsoft’s long-term goal probably hasn’t changed any, they are just taking a few steps back from their more bullish plan.
What do you think of Microsoft’s change in policy, will it be enough to win back over many of the fans it angered or is the long-term damage already done long before the system arrives to retail?