Earlier today, Microsoft actually came out and confirmed some details about it’s new system the Xbox One.
(You can get the info from Major Nelson’s blog http://majornelson.com/2013/06/06/details-on-xbox-one-connectivity-licensing-and-privacy-features/).
There are some really great features coming, in that one can play their games anywhere at any time on any system as long as that user signed in. That’s actually really cool. Having games fully installed will really help with load times. There are just some general cool things coming to the system…
The cost of having those features, however, puts a really sour taste in my mouth. The Xbox One comes with it’s very own system wide DRM. Now, you remember what happens when most publishers push crazy DRM restrictions on people. It usually blows up in their face. Read EA with SimCity, Blizzard with Diablo 3, any Ubisoft title pre-2013.
I honestly don’t mind DRM on PC games. It’s a way for the publishers to combat the rampant piracy problem that plagues the PC gaming market. Which is actually why most publishers stick to the console releases, because it’s much harder to actually pirate console games and get away with it. Having DRM on a whole system is going to be awful. I am actually in disbelief that Microsoft would go through with this. Sure you will be able to sell off, or even gift, your old games to retailers or friends (read: only authorized retailers), and the buyer doesn’t even have to pay a service fee to have it activated on their own system. Not too bad. However, the system needs to do a check every 24 hours to see if you’re connected to the Internet. The quote for this, I thought, was actually pretty funny “Because every Xbox One owner has a broadband connection, developers can create massive, persistent worlds that evolve even when you’re not playing.” Microsoft hasn’t actually sold a single Xbox One console to a consumer and they are already saying that everyone already has one, apparently, and they have broadband internet.
I know for a fact that not even every Xbox 360 owner has access to a broadband connection, and some live in areas where cell phone signal is pretty scarce. Which was another point Microsoft made on their web page, they even mention after saying everyone has a broadband connection that even if you don’t you can use a mobile data connection (like a tethered cell phone, or data stick). They say it’s just to see if you have patches and updates available, or if you’ve sold the disc based version. What if you need to actually apply a patch to your game? Some patches can be several hundreds of megabytes. People using a mobile data plan don’t always have that kind of data to spare. Many Data plans at entry level, in Canada specifically, are only good for 500mb/month. There goes all your data for a month.
How hard is it to have a mandatory installation that still requires the disc? Install all the necessary data to the drive then just do a disc check, that’s how it works now on the 360 with the optional installs. This way instead of having games in a cloud (where load times are probably going to suffer) you can just bring a disc to your friend’s house, or sell it to anyone, or do whatever you want with it. Sure, you’d have to sit through a 5-10 minute installation of the game before you can play it, but I’d rather have to wait for that time than have to have my console connected online at all times. Heck, the PS3 requires a 5-10 minute installation for most games as it is and Sony doesn’t need to check the status of your system every day.
It’s not that I personally don’t have a broadband connection. It’s the principle of the matter. There is no reason to institute a wacky DRM on a home console. It’s understandable for some PC games, I even wrote an article about why EA was right in putting strict DRM on SimCity. Having a whole system need to do a check online is just insane.
This debacle and the lackluster announcement of the system initially has solidified in my mind that I will not be buying into the Xbox One… that being said I’m not buying into the PS4 either. Looks like I’m taking that money and building a PC, where there is DRM, yes, but it’s a case-by-case basis. I won’t have big brother checking to see if my desktop is connected to the Internet at all times.