Microsoft backtracks on Xbox One DRM and "always online"

19 Jun 2013

xbox one

Microsoft has announced it will remove DRM restrictions on Xbox One games and the need for you to have the Xbox One "always online".

Sources told whathifi.com earlier today that Microsoft was set to announce the changes, with games developers being informed first.

A post on Xbox.com now confirms the changes: "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."

The post by Don Mattrick, President, Interactive Entertainment Business, thanked people who posted "feedback" for their "assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One". 

The Xbox One was announced last week at E3 alongside the new PS4, with Sony's new PlayStation drawing first blood thanks to the higher Xbox One price and apparent restrictions surrounding games and offline play.

Microsoft announced that users would need to connect the Xbox One to the internet once every 24 hours in order to keep playing. 

DRM (digital rights management) would also seemingly restrict you from sharing Xbox One games with friends or indeed selling them on second-hand. 

Sony was quick to capitalise, changing the PS4 launch to poke fun at the Xbox One's perceived restrictive nature and highlighting the fact that there would be no such issues aroud the PS4 (even if PS4 games publishers' can seemingly still choose to add DRM).

It seems Microsoft has listened and has changed its mind on both DRM on Xbox One games and the always online requirement. 

Microsoft signed-off the announcement by thanking gamers for the "candid feedback", saying the Xbox team, "remained committed to listening, taking feedback and delivering a great product for you later this year."

HANDS ON: PS4 review

MORE: PlayStation 4 vs Xbox One

by Joe Cox

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Comments

"... maybe in 8 - 10 years time ..."

With current tech I agree but if these consoles are to be with us as long as the PS3 and XB360 that'll change fast.

One example would be the new H.265/HEVC standard slated to replace H.264 video encoding. It supposedly offers a 35.4% average bit rate reduction* promissing either better quality or lower bandwidth requirements.Then you've got FTTC and FTTH connectivity roll-outs ramping-up even into more rural towns.

I hope tech like this means your estimate of 8-10 years can be halved.

 

* Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Efficiency_Video_Coding.

"Combined this with live-feed FLV scenes streamed from a central game server and you can have a hugely detailed experience without the intial download pain."

This surely exacerbates the situation - instead of downloading the FMV once to the console hard drive, it has to stream it live every time you play that scene. Try that on a typical rural broadband connection and you could be waiting for an hour to load each scene!

I agree that probably one day, most games will be downloaded rather than put on to a disc. But I don't believe it will be mainstream for this generation of consoles in the UK. Well, maybe in 8 - 10 years time when they start to go end of life and the next batch is about to be released and only if ISPs have sorted out the ageing UK infrastructure so that >80% of the country can get 50 Mbps or more as a standard.

If the games are still done on 1080p then I do not know what the big deal is, Xbox 1 gets a Blu Ray player? But I am in for the Ps4.You do not get short changed by Sony....PSN is free

No developers have ever said the current consoles have maxed up their processing power.

Upscaled games or movies to 4k then that would be new....??

MS never got anything right first time round!  

At E3 they got a kicking and the xbox 1 will be in the PS4's shadows....given the two machines are about equal why does MS charge more?

Stick to your buggy Windows. We do not need two consoles, there can only be one!

We are seeing evidence of a change in game construction that avoids the huge download pitfall.

Games such as Mechwarrior Online offer a complete FPS experience on the PC but the install package is relatively compact (1-2GB). This is just one of a growing catalogue of games that can deliver a fully featured experience without crashing into bandwidth restrictions.

That said for story-line driven games such as The Last of Us there are huge chunks of textures and full motion video this a much greater challenge. In that case the developers have grabbed the opportunity of Bluray data storage and luxuriated in the benefits.

Even here however times are changing. With the increased power in the next-gen consoles developers can increase their use of on-the-fly content generation where the install contains the bones of the game and how to build it - the console then generates it live without massive storage overheads. Combined this with live-feed FLV scenes streamed from a central game server and you can have a hugely detailed experience without the intial download pain.

Ultimately it's a very exciting time for consumers and game developers. The technology is developing at great pace and the companies delivering it to our doors are having to rapidly adapt their strategies to grow and survive.

"Physical media will be the number one choice in gaming for many years I think, due to the file sizes."

Indeed - I just saw The Last of Us is available to buy through the PS Store on the PS3 - it's a 24 GB download. If you're on a fast, unlimited broadband package, that's okay (though it's still going to take a few hours to download even then), but anyone on a fairly standard broadband package is going to be stuck buying this "over the wire" as (a) it'll take days to download and (b) it'll probably take them close to using up their entire month's download limit.

So for these people, discs are still going to be the only way to get new full games for quite some time.

Physical media will be the number one choice in gaming for many years I think, due to the file sizes.

Microsoft made a big deal about how connectivity was essential and utilising the power of the cloud.

I guess it was all lies to justify their DRM measures.

Pre-order numbers and competition were enough to convince them to change their stance. Previous actions confirm it has nothing to do with treating consumers right.

While change is often welcome the devil's in the detail.

I'm an avid Xbox gamer, I love to buy games on disc, but I'm very aware this is a dying medium. Smartphones and tablets have driven this change and Microsoft's own Xbox Arcade and Steam on the PC are helping to toll the bell on physical media delivery in gaming.

Microsoft's original decision was therefore perfectly understandable if somewhat short-sighted. It was pushed along by games publishers desparate to get a handle on second-hand revenue where users sell the discs but purchasers still have to by a license from the publishing house. Arguably they should have left disc sales to die gracefully but instead chose to push through the inevitable.

While Microsoft's latest announcement up-ends this business model it also kills the re-sale of digital content. This was a potentially great asset to all Xbox users and Microsoft alike.

Most future content will be bought discless. Mobile devices are solely driven this way and are some of the biggest gaming platforms out there so users are comfortable with media delivered this way. The gaming industry is keenly focused on in-game micro transactions at present so future gamers should expect to spend the vast majority of their pocket-money on online content. Reselling that content is potentially more valuable than reselling physical media which has been subject to use wear/tear and aging. For content providers digital content removes the overhead associated with physical media.

It remains to be seen whether Xbox users have lost more than they could have gained today.

To late now? the console still has months to release and you say the damage is done, your of your rocker!

People moan they don't get listened too and when they do they moan some more 

 

Good move by Microsoft as it demonstrates that the company does listen to its (potential) customers and react accordingly.

 

however, like Sony, this does not stop publishers Implementing their own DRM for games on the new console.

 

I'd wager that games dependant on online play will require some authentication to prevent the same game being played concurrently on different machines using the same account.

 

 

Too late now, the damage to reputation has been done and it's been dismissed by gamers. It's a shambles like Windows 8. Ballmer must go.

 Doesn't matter, they are still greedy SOB's for even thinking about placing the limitations. They removed the limitations cause they got scared of losing money, not cause we began to rant.