No, Xbox One’s DRM Reversal Didn’t Doom the Industry

So What Have We Learned?

Again and again, we’ve been told that the all-digital future is inevitable; Microsoft’s entire public justification for the features gamers hated so much is to facilitate that transition. And this view is almost certainly correct, at least in part. Music streaming services like Spotify have become standard in how people consume music (Youtube views are even counted in determining if a song is a hit), and movie streaming services are a huge part of how people watch film, to the point that Netflix is now in the business of original television programming. It is obvious based on the success of Steam that gamers will trend similarly.

But something people keep forgetting is that you can still buy records. You can still by MP3s. You can still by DvDs and Blu-Rays. People have embraced streaming for its convenience, but when they want to shell out real money for the movies and music they love, they spend it on media they can actually own and do with as they please. Presumably no one thinks this is crazy. And yet the future of gaming is widely assumed to be the total abandonment of physical media, a move completely unsupported by past observable consumer behavior.

Honestly, if music and film are any guide, people are still going to want to at least have the option of full ownership. Gamers don’t like digital games because they care about clutter or wish they had more space on their media shelves for books or something. The only thing that makes the digital future sound so cool is the promise of convenience. Instant – or near instant – access to games with an easy point of purchase to facilitate playing the game you want as quickly as possible. Or put another way, record stores aren’t dying because people stopped giving a crap about music, they’re dying because it’s so much easier to visit iTunes or eMusic, where you have limitless ability to search and preview albums before purchase, and can buy the second you feel like it with no lines.

Microsoft didn’t offer any of that, and consumers knew it. What it offered instead was a bum deal in which consumers were forced to surrender their rights in exchange for a slew of bitter inconveniences, inconveniences that were offered up in tones that suggested outright contempt for consumers. People tend not to enjoy signing on for something that looks like it’s going to suck, but they especially tend not to enjoy it when they’re also being mocked and insulted by the people asking them to do it.

Honestly, Microsoft introduced a product with features that everyone hated, and then, when it was made painfully clear that this was going to hurt its bottom line, the company changed course. You might think this dooms the industry, but I happen to think a business that gives the consumers what they want will do just fine. Especially when that industry consistently out-earns the film industry.

We’ll get to that digital future, eventually. And hopefully, when we do, it won’t be something simply imposed on us, but the result of dialogues like the one that just played out with Xbox One. Considering that core gamers are among the earliest adopters of multiple technologies, we needn’t insult them by suggesting they’re afraid of change. They aren’t. They simply did not want what Microsoft was selling. The company therefore made the precisely correct decision and deferred to its customers.

You want to save the industry? That’s the only way to do it.

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13 Comments on No, Xbox One’s DRM Reversal Didn’t Doom the Industry

Ellis

On June 25, 2013 at 10:08 am

Why is it a surprise that games journalists have chosen to suck the d*cks of Microsoft? It’s no different from you and Ian kissing the asses of every ‘liberal,’ feminist, anti-corporate or reverse-racist spokesperson on the planet. In both cases you’re letting your deep-seated, naive and often uneducated beliefs cloud your judgement. The only distinction is that games journalists deepthroating games developers isn’t anything special. Games journalists using a games website as a platform to vent their spleens on socio-political issues they have limited-to-no understanding of is a bit more of a problem.

Patches

On June 25, 2013 at 10:30 am

You sell your Xbone “naked”, then those that are interested register for the 24h/DRM/10 members service (free or for a fee)… Problem solved…

BTW, if MS is interested, I’m available as a consultant for a million$ a year…

Ross Lincoln

On June 25, 2013 at 11:10 am

Patches, you’re a dangerous genius. Please use your powers only for good. :)

eddie

On June 25, 2013 at 11:19 am

I have been waiting for you guys to post a rebuttal to all these idiots for the last week. Thanks again for being awesome gamefront

Rick

On June 25, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Thank you Gamefront.

I originally found Gamefront during the Mass Effect 3 ending debacle. You guys were a beacon of hope and reason during that time (I still secretly hope and believe in the indoctrination theory), and I have been a constant lurker ever since.

Thank you for the articles, like this one, that you post, and the points-of-view you bring to the conversation.

R-man

On June 25, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Great job on the Used Games section. Honestly, I don’t really like buying used too often… however, I enjoy the option, and I definitely do not have the extra funds necessary to buy all the games I want, so I have to ration out my dollars and cents to buy only the games I desperately want… The ones that I think look to be worth the full price of $60. I think I’m a good example of what a consumer would be in a No Used Games world. And I also believe that if there were no used games option, there are some games I never would’ve gotten into to begin with… If I had never bought a used copy of Mass Effect, for example, I never would’ve gotten into the rest of the trilogy… Because I would have never known what I was missing. I wouldn’t have been anxiously waiting for the release of the next two and I never would have bought Mass Effect 2 or 3 brand spankin’ new. Yeah, I could’ve bought those used as well… but why would I? I loved the first so much that I wanted my own brand new copy of whatever they were selling. Actually, I feel that because of the used games market, it puts more pressure onto the developers and publishers to put out a much better game so that people WANT to buy it new. The majority of people will buy something brand new (maybe even pre-order it) if it’s something they KNOW they absolutely can’t go without, or that will give them the satisfaction they are looking for when required to pay $60. I feel like the used games market puts a good kind of (and much needed) pressure onto the people who make and sell the games. I feel that, without it, the quality of games in the overall market would probably begin to fall.

Chris

On June 25, 2013 at 8:43 pm

one new title which see the developer getting paid or 4 used titles which they see 0 dollars of. i wonder which one i support.

Of course im a PC gamer. ive seen how this world plays out. and i like it.

matthew s

On June 26, 2013 at 8:08 am

I like used games because it gives me a chance to try a game im not sure about and if I hate it then its not so bad because I didnt pay that much.

I bought a used copy of uncharted drakes fortune when I first bought my PS3. There wasn’t a lot of games to choose from and the demo was ok but I wasnt sure if it was worth paying full price for as it was a new ip. It vost me half the price used and I fell in love with the game. So when the second and third arrived I bought them day one brand new. And it means ill be buying the last of us brand new.

R.J.

On June 26, 2013 at 12:38 pm

I’m curious, if MS backing off on the used games is somehow going to bring about ruin for the industry, why were we not hearing these people calling for Nintendo and Sony to implement such features? Apparently, two out of the big three knew that getting in the way of people trying out new games is a bad idea, even if that is by sharing among friends or buying a used copy. I’m pretty sure that listening to what your customers want is a good thing for a business since it, you know, makes people want to buy your product.

Kakyo01

On June 26, 2013 at 11:42 pm

a friend of mine had my copy of inFamous 1 because he liked the sandbox-concept but did not know if he would buy a game like that (he isn’t into superheroes, etc)… he played it and before you know it he bought inFamous 2 full price.

giving a friend access to your games can result in increasing the publishers income… without playing with my game for a while he would never bought the game… he would have skipped it…

making it hard / impossible to give your games to your friends will hurt the publishers income in the long run even if they gain some money at the very beginning

Dratkin

On June 28, 2013 at 4:26 am

For the first time EVER, I am zero interest in the Xbox. I was a big fan of the original Xbox and the 360 but I am just not interested in the Xbone as some are calling it.

quicktooth

On June 28, 2013 at 6:21 am

Bless you mates :D . I’m delighted that Gamefront’s (highly *unusual* in this industry) integrity shine forth some more. You know who I don’t read the articles of? Dishonest people who have no opinions of their own but act as a sort of relay service for slightly reworded press releases. I don’t need to waste my time with them, and I don’t. Nor do I need to pretend they are “journalists” and “news articles”. If I want some company’s spiel, I’ll go to them directly. *Gamefront’s* journalists have actual opinions, insightful industry commentary, and is one of the few sites I enable ads in my browser on. Yep you heard me, I turned my adblocker off (on Gamefront). Why? This gives the people I want to support money (and I will buy the stuff advertised if it looks promising). Put that in your pipe and smoke it, numerous corrupt game journos- you daft b@astards. Try to get me to lose MY rights, will you *shakes fist*

Mike

On June 28, 2013 at 10:44 am

I don’t think I will be buying this one. Especially after releasing Fable 2 only on xbox, that ruined faith in them from me.