The Xbox One’s DRM is gone…for now.
In a move that startled everyone, Microsoft have done a full U-turn on their DRM policies for the upcoming Xbox One. Gone are the 24 hour Internet checkups and the used game policies, in favor of a system exactly mirroring the 360, PS3 and PS4. Unfortunately discless gameplay and roaming libraries have disappeared as well, due to their intrinsic link with DRM. Microsoft caved into customer pressure, seemingly ignoring so-called ‘futurists’ such as myself in the process.
But I think Microsoft made the right call here. If you read the letter than Don Mattrick published recently, he repeatedly uses the key phrase ‘at launch’ when referring to the cancelled features. This is crucial. We are definitely seeing a move towards the all-digital future Microsoft have envisioned for us, it’s just that we’re going to take a while longer to get there. Before this U-turn, Microsoft were forcing new policies and ideas on a consumer base that just wasn’t ready for such dramatic change. Looking back on it, sales would have been affected, as Sony’s marketing was exploiting Microsoft’s policies for its own gain.
Instead of this forceful approach, Microsoft are taking a slower but cleverer route. By stemming the negative publicity, they have the opportunity to sell a metric shit ton of Xbox Ones this winter. Once they’ve got a console in pretty much every home, they can slowly start the push to a digital infrastructure. Allowing discless gameplay for those who want it (and no, digital downloads are not an alternative as Microsoft have a price monopoly there). Implementing more cloud powered games once we have hard statistics on how many X1 users have Internet. Hell, there was a lot of behind the scenes talk at E3 about a move to a streaming model, a la Netflix. But Microsoft have to wait to implement these features. People don’t like change. They need to be eased in slowly. These features were not system sellers, and were certainly not worth Microsoft losing launch period sales. They’re better implemented after widespread adoption takes place. Soon, we’ll have the all-digital dream. Soon.