Breaking: Microsoft Caves, Xbox One DRM Removed
We’ve known all along that Xbox One’s ridiculous DRM and always-online1 requirement are completely insane. That became especially apparent after the epic pantsing delivered to Microsoft by Sony on the first day of E3 2013. But has the company finally realized its mistake? That’s the gist of a sensational change to Xbox One policies announced by the company just moments ago.
In an update to its infamous Xbox One clarification page, the company has announced the total reversal of the controversial always-online requirement, as well as the equally controversial bans on used games, and lending and trading between friends. Here is that statement in full:
Last week at E3, the excitement, creativity and future of our industry was on display for a global audience.
For us, the future comes in the form of Xbox One, a system designed to be the best place to play games this year and for many years to come. As is our heritage with Xbox, we designed a system that could take full advantage of advances in technology in order to deliver a breakthrough in game play and entertainment. We imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing, and new ways to try and buy games. We believe in the benefits of a connected, digital future.
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.
So, today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. Here is what that means:
An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.
In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console — there will be no regional restrictions.
These changes will impact some of the scenarios we previously announced for Xbox One. The sharing of games will work as it does today, you will simply share the disc. Downloaded titles cannot be shared or resold. Also, similar to today, playing disc based games will require that the disc be in the tray.
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.
Thank you again for your candid feedback. Our team remains committed to listening, taking feedback and delivering a great product for you later this year.
Simply put, this is a spectacular victory for gamers, and for consumers generally. It is also a delicious cap to nearly 3 months of a peculiar marketing strategy that appeared to be based upon outright contempt for the consumer.
In early April, Microsoft Studios Creative Director Adam Orth incensed gamers by when he responded to people who objected to the requirement of a persistent Internet connection by crudely mocking rural residents, and by drawing false equivalence between gaming consoles and cellular phones. In the ensuing firestorm of criticism, Orth resigned from his position (almost certainly as an alternative to being fired outright), but the company’s subsequent behavior demonstrates that it hung him out to dry when, in fact, he was expressing something close to the party line.
Perhaps the most notorious example of the company’s consumer-focused misanthropy came the day after E3, when Microsoft President of the Interactive Entertainment Business Don Mattrick gave an interview to Geoff Keighley, during which he delivered this very smug response when asked about people who are simply unable to consistently connect to the internet: “Fortunately we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity, it’s called xbox 360″.
That he did this less than 24 hours after Sony’s reveal that PS4 would have none of Xbox One’s unpopular features and would be $100 cheaper made his comment seem especially clueless, and in the days after Microsoft essentially stopped talking to the press.
As for why this is happening now, clearly, Sony’s positioning Playstation 4 as the anti-Xbox, along with increasing vitriolic criticism from observers outside of the gore gamer world, played a role in convincing Microsoft that it was making a terrible business decision. I also can’t help but wonder it there has also been a serious drop in Xbox One preorders. But perhaps the coup de grâce was an absolutely scathing editorial by the Navy Times, which called Xbox One “a sin against all service members”.
As our own Phil Hornshaw said on Twitter, “just remember that you are the vocal minority and it doesn’t matter what you think because CoD players.” Indeed.
Congratulations, gamers. You’ve earned yourselves a drink.
1) once every 24 hours is functionally always-online, no matter how you look at it.