With the announcement of Microsoft’s Xbox One, there has been a collection of hatred focused on new video game DRM restrictions. Unfortunately many users don’t truly know the actual measures being put in place on Xbox One video games. In addition, there are a collection of new benefits that come with Xbox One games that are being overlooked. Let’s take a look and talk about how Xbox DRM licensing will actually work. My goal is to help you understand Microsoft’s decisions and see some of the benefits of the new DRM system. If you are still angry at the end of the article, which is fine – PlayStation 4 is a great alternative and I hope you enjoy it (Just let me know how good “The Last of Us” really is).
Obtaining your favorite games
Let’s talk about “step one” – buying content. You will be able to buy a video game on Xbox One, physically or virtually, on the same day. Want to jump onto the “no physical media” bandwagon – go for it! Still want to buy discs and display your favorite titles on your shelf – that is cool also.
A promise that Xbox content will be on both disc and digital the same day, means that gamers can skip the midnight lines and start gaming. No more waiting for a game to show up on the Xbox Live marketplace and no more having to sit next to the guy in line who hasn’t showered in a week, to pick up the latest Halo game.
Even if you choose to buy a physical copy of the game, once installed, no discs are required. All of the content you buy will be linked to the Xbox cloud in addition to being stored on your console. Scratch that game disc and afraid you will never be able to play it again – that was the past!
Sharing with friends and family
Here is the best part, because your game is in the cloud, you can head to your friend’s house, login, and play your games there! That’s right, you can actually play your games while chilling with friends at their house; this has been one of the biggest misunderstandings for the console. So go ahead, head to a friend’s house and play Call of Duty Ghosts multiplayer - Microsoft is not stopping you.
In addition to sharing with your friends, any accounts on your Xbox One can play games installed to the unit. Does mom want to play Dead Rising 3? Does dad want to play Peggle? Even if players aren’t related to you, if their gamertag is on the console, they can access any video games installed.
The fun doesn’t end there, up to ten family members can log in and play shared games on any Xbox One console. Which means when your brother heads to his friend’s house to play his copy of Forza Motorsport, he will also be able to access all of your shared games.
Reselling and trading
Now, let’s talk about reselling your disc games and trading with friends. You will still be able to trade in your games at participating retailers. In addition, Microsoft won’t be charging any fees to retailers, publishers, or consumers for enabling transfer of games. Enjoy playing that game and then head to a store to trade it in for something else – reselling is not dead.
Giving your games to a friend isn’t dead either. Xbox One allows you to give your games to friends with no fees attached. There are two requirements though: the first is that you can only give games to people who have been on your friends list for a least 30 days and secondly, each game can only be given once.
The new collection of DRM rules and restrictions attempts to allow friends and family to enjoy each other’s content while ensuring developers get paid. I know a lot of you like to think of game publishers and developers as “the man”, but truth is – the team of programmers and artists working on your favorite titles are trying to put food on their own family’s tables.
Take a second and step back from your viewpoint, if you work on a video game for years and then one bloke pays $50 for it and shares it with half a dozen friends – is that really fair? Sure, it makes life easy for you, but aren’t you slapping your favorite developers in the face at the same time? Xbox One allows you to still play your game with your friends and even completely give it to your best friend later, while allowing developers and publishers to get paid for their content.
Also let’s think how awesome the ability to access your entire library from any Xbox One console, no discs required, will be. In my house we have three Xbox 360s and if I’m downstairs in the living room and want to play a game, I have to trek myself out of my couch and upstairs to my man cave to grab the disc. Now, with Xbox One, I simply turn on the living room console and sign in to access my copy of RYSE. Microsoft’s latest console works closely with the cloud to ensure your content is everywhere you are.
24 hour check-ins
Let’s not forget to talk about Xbox One’s 24 hour check-in with Microsoft servers. This need to check in with Microsoft’s servers goes back to helping to protect one copy of a game being installed onto a dozen different Xbox machines. Remember, Xbox 360 didn’t actually have the ability to install games completely to the hard drive – this feature is completely new for the Xbox One. Microsoft’s previous gaming system didn’t need a check in because you always needed to have the disc on you. As we move into a world void of physical media, a system has to be in check to ensure piracy doesn’t run a rampage.
Other consoles and systems
After reading this, a percentage of you will most likely say “well that is definitely better than I thought, but PlayStation 4 is DRM free.” The answer to that remark is, no – it isn’t. Sony spent a lot of time talking about how they aren’t imposing DRM restrictions on their games and how awesome they are compared to Microsoft. What Sony didn’t spend a lot of time telling you, is that publishers can put DRM content onto their games if they choose to – and let me tell you, most will choose to.
Sony has more of a mess on their hands than Microsoft does; instead of having a system where all of your content is setup the same and accessible from everywhere, you will have a content system in which games may or may not be restricted in various ways. Some games will be accessible from everywhere and some won’t; it will be a toss-up and you better hope you get what you are wishing for.
Many of you shouldn’t even be bothered by the ideas above, specifically PC gamers who have been buying game after game on Steam. The digital PC game marketplace doesn’t allow you to trade with friends or sell for resale. Let’s not forget that after purchasing content you have to go into “Offline mode” if you know you won’t be able to access the web.
I have friends who have hundreds and hundreds of DRM restricted games on Steam, but scream “that’s Bull $%#@” when they hear that Xbox One has some (and less restrictive) anti-piracy methods in place. Excuse me, but – hypocritical much?
Not all of you will agree with me (trust me, I’m ready for the angry comments), but understand that with the slight DRM restrictions in place – Xbox One gains a new generation of features including disc-less gaming anywhere at any time and faster access to the latest game releases.
On a final note, take time to think of the restrictions in place and how they will affect you; Do you actually not have internet at home (and for those who don’t currently, Xbox 360 will continue to be supported for years to come)? How many games do you actually sell and when you do - how many are at a store like GameStop or FYE? How often do you just give away your games to friends -and how often are they people you have known for less than thirty days?
DRM is not your worst enemy as long as it is implemented correctly. Whether you like it or not, developers have to get paid or the industry will collapse. Microsoft is working hard to implement DRM and to continue making gaming a great experience. Before you become a hate machine for the boys in Redmond - let’s remember how much you loved the Xbox 360, Halo, and other Microsoft goodies. Put down your angry fists for a second and think about what is actually happening – in the end, you might feel differently.