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Xbox One Changes DRM and Connection Policies

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Power to the people!  Power to the Gamers!

We are not ones to be held back by technology, especially when we’re the ones begging for its advancement at every possible turn.  And while Sony may have made the biggest noise at last week’s E3 in regard to the lack of DRM on their upcoming next gen PS4 console, it’s the reaction of those announcements by the fans that we believe helped push Xbox One’s policies in a new direction.

For a time, it was all just rumors.  But they were pretty well founded rumors.  Microsoft always seemed to sidestep any questions on such policies, unlike Sony, who used their E3 press conference to throw down the gauntlet and unambiguously show people where they stood. It was a sassy move to say the least, and was the very public first step that rallied the gaming community behind them, claiming that Playstation had “won E3″.

Originally, the next gen Xbox was supposedly going to force gamers to keep their new console connected to the internet at all times, forcing at least one daily check-in to make sure that nothing fishy was going on with the system.  No check-in meant that the system would lock itself down until a check in could be made.  Gamers weren’t happy, especially those who weren’t especially interested in the system’s more web-friendly features.  Some people just want to play and play on their own.  Oddly enough, some gamers play to disconnect from everything else. Then there was the policy on no used games, preventing people from even sharing games between friends.  You couldn’t take your new copy of Call of Duty to a friend’s house to play.  In every way, Microsoft was pissing off their diehard target audience.

And the early pre-sale numbers were bearing that out.  Never mind that the Xbox One costs $100 more than the PS4 and that Gamestop had just stopped taking pre-orders for the Xbox One altogether (their business model has a considerable stake in the used game realm and, well, they all quickly hit their very low per store allocation limits)… people were just outright mad.  But the good thing is that Microsoft heard them and as of this afternoon, they’ve changed their tune.

On the official Xbox blog, Don Mattrick, President, Interactive Entertainment Business, stepped up to clarify the company’s stand on the Xbox One’s feature set in regard to these controversial topics and it seems that we’re getting everything we asked for.

From the official Xbox blog:

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.

As much as we gamers love the evolution of our technology, it seems we aren’t so ready to give up our traditional formats, which is fine… for now.  Eventually, the shift will happen – with Microsoft, with Sony, and even with Nintendo.  Someday in the near future, we won’t be carrying around discs in clamshell cases. But until the companies find a way to make the process less invasive, it will be a long, troubled road to that not so far off destination.  And it will only happen once the companies find a way to make it look like it was OUR idea.  Then playing a game offline via a disc will be as retro as playing a vinyl record or seeing a movie shown on a 35mm projector.

What do you think?  Have we won the war or is this only a small win among the many more battles to come in the world of console gaming?

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