Thursday, 20 June 2013

Microsoft Get Rid Of Xbox One DRM - Time To Reevaluate The Next-Gen Consoles

EDIT: I just wanted to add in a little note as I'm getting some people saying I'm against DRM and that DRM isn't all bad etc. etc. But I am not anti-DRM. Personally I think it's the future. But right now the world cannot deal with it. We're not ready. And Microsoft were dumb to think it was OK to do this now. Make everything online in 10 years, when EVERYONE is ready and NO-ONE gets left behind. That's what I think about DRM. Right there. So no need to assume anything anymore. 

So, they finally did it. They caved in and the consumers got their way. Admittedly, before I wasn't very convinced by the idea of Microsoft removing the DRM and pre-owned games restrictions and I was pretty skeptical about whether they'd do it or not. So I'm sorry for that. That I got wrong.

But onto more pressing matters. As I mentioned above, Microsoft has removed the DRM 'feature' from the Xbox One. Details? 

Well now you can play offline like you can on the PS4. You don't need to connect to the internet every 24 hours. The only time a connection is compulsory is when you first start and setup the console. However this connection can be achieved even by tethering the console to your smartphone and using, well, 3 or 4G if you REALLY want. From then on in you can play offline all you want.

It's also not region locked so those countries that were excluded before can now use it!

Pre-owned games and discs now work exactly how they do now and won't change. You still need to install games to your HDD but you will now need the disc in the tray to play them. But, unlike before, you can now trade games in, sell them, give them to all your friends etc. There are no restrictions. It's exactly how it works nowadays. The family plan is gone though, so no sharing like that via the cloud.

Here are the exact quotes made by Marc Whitten (some of the below quotes are taken from an interview with IGN. Check out their article too).

“There was always going to be a day one update on the console, and that’s frankly just a difference in manufacturing schedules versus software schedules.

"We just wanted to be clear that that hasn’t changed, that you have to go online to get the software update for day one, then you wouldn’t have to be connected after that.

“We love getting feedback from gamers. My ideal scenario is always that I’m working to build a product they love,” Whitten said. “We still believe in how games and entertainment are transformed by being connected and powered by the cloud, and frankly you’re going to see us really innovate against that experience. But as part of making the changes to allow you to use physical discs the way that you do today, what’s going to happen is your online games and your physical games will work like they do today. That does mean that features like Family Sharing won’t be there. Another example that we think is awesome is that when you move to any Xbox One, the ability to see all of your games in your Games Library. While you’ll clearly only see the ones that you downloaded online, you’d have to bring your physical discs for the other ones."

So there you have it. Microsoft has completely reversed their policy. This. Is. AWESOME. But what does it mean for the PS4? This is where shit gets real my friends.

Sony were steaming on ahead with the PS4 and its anti-DRM policy. However, now Microsoft has removed the online restrictions from the Xbox One, I can really appreciate the console for what it is. The Xbox One looks like a great piece of tech. And I personally can't see Microsoft losing the next-gen console war easily, if at all. In fact, they could win it.

Let's not bore ourselves with minor details and wade through all of the features of the Xbox One and the PS4. Who cares? Let's have a look at what I think could happen and HOW they could happen and what big things will determine which console is more popular. 

So, there are two ways I think the next-gen could go. 

1) Sony gets off to a better start than MS and continues to be slightly ahead of them for a year or so until MS finally catch them up and the race evens out. I can't see the Xbox One lagging behind much at all though. I only mean a little bit when I say the PS4 could be ahead of it. Personally I think it'll be tight, but the PS4 could get the edge over the Xbox One. Just.

2) The Xbox One does a complete 360 and outsells the PS4. Could this happen? Could the console we really thought was going to flop turn around and come out smiling while Sony stare at the drawing board open mouthed, barely able to speak and just about forming the words " the....the....bag..."? COULD IT? Maybe. Yep, I think it's a possibility. And below is why.

As much as I like the PS4 I can't help but feel it's not just under threat but actually potentially losing this battle already. With no DRM in the way it's clear the Xbox One is a superb console and although similar to the PS4, there are some key things it does that could help it gain an advantage of its rival.

So what are the key points here?

Sony fanboys will remind everyone constantly that the 'PS4 is slightly more powerful' than the Xbox One, but let's not get dumb here. Please. The PS4 may be slightly faster but who cares? 3rd party games are going to be made to work on both consoles so a tad more power isn't going to help the PS4 in any way. Only 1st party games can benefit from this added strength but the extra power the PS4 does have is so minor there's no real way it can even be used. 

What is interesting though, is price. The PS4 is $100 dollars cheaper than the Xbox One and I can't see Microsoft really lowering the price much. The thing that really affects the pricing is the fact that the X1 comes with Kinect, while the PSMove is not included with the PS4. Now I don't care about Kinect, and you might not either. However I'll tell you who does like Kinect: the type of people who will be buying a console for Christmas. 
It still looks a bit ugly. But it looks nicer than the PS4's 'sandwich'
 design. You know where you are with a box. It fits into box shaped
areas and is easy to handle. But how do you deal with a slanting
sandwich shape? I don't know. Boxes are nicer.

In fact, as much as Kinect pisses me off, it could end up being a good idea to bundle it with the console. Why? Because families looking for a console at Christmas time are going to compare the Xbox One and PS4 and might come to the decision that paying an extra $100 for a sensor that allows them to play 'family' games is better than buying a PS4 and then having to pay extra for the Move system. And even then, how much is Move going to cost? They may end up paying as much for the PS4 with Move as they would for the complete Xbox One bundle, in which case why not just go with the Xbox because everything they want is right there? 

With no DRM holding them back, no-one has ANYTHING to fear by buying the Xbox One. Nothing. The only thing, and this brings me to my second point, is the worry of trust.

Do you trust Microsoft? I'm guessing no. Do I? Hell no. They didn't listen to us before and now they only just removed DRM. But they removed it begrudgingly. They wanted this DRM thing to work out so much that they stood behind it, standing their ground, not backing down. They tried to convince me and you it was the right thing to do. But in the end the threat from fans to boycott the Xbox One for the PS4 was so bad they just went ahead and got rid of it. They didn't want to, but they did.  
What does that tell you?
Well it tells me that they're not really trustworthy. Sony have done everything we, as gamers, wanted. Microsoft not so much. Do you want to invest in a console that is owned by an extremely unpredictable company? Maybe not...

But the Xbox One has yet another clear winner up its sleeve: its launch lineup.
The X1 has a superb launch lineup of exclusive titles and with Microsoft's new partnerships with the likes of DICE and EA, well, they've got it in the bag really. 

With devs like Naughty Dog, however, it's obvious Sony is going to hit back with some masterpiece exclusives later on. But right now Microsoft is winning where games are concerned. Can they keep it that way for the life of the console? Maybe. But people live in the now, and right NOW the Xbox One is the console with the killer launch-lineup.

The Xbox One also edges over the PS4 where entertainment is concerned. MS has cleared up the gaming confusion and concern that arose after the reveal in May and we can all appreciate that the console is a great gaming device - especially without DRM restrictions. But it's also an awesome entertainment device. The PS4 will be able to do that stuff too, but Microsoft has made it clear that all your movie and TV needs are sorted. Sony on the other-hand has just said that they have some entertainment features and, well, that's it really.

What's more, when it comes to the 'sharing' feature on the consoles, Microsoft win again with there ability to get better partnerships. They have Twitch. Sony have Ustream. I don't like either if I'm honest. I prefer YouTube's streaming service. But fuck me I'd pick Twitch over Ustream any day of the week.

Titanfall looks so badass! 

For me it just seems like Sony were counting on Microsoft screwing up the Xbox with DRM and didn't focus on their own new features. It's as if they sat back and thought "Well, the Xbox is done for. Let's just do what people want and take it easy chaps." But now MS has done a u-turn on the DRM, Sony's console doesn't look nearly as feature-some. Indeed; the Xbox One looks like it's full to the brim of things to do and use while the PS4 is somewhat standard. Sony should have been working hard on new features other than just assuming that they had it in the bag already.

Ultimately I can - and I know I'm gonna get hate for this - see the Xbox One actually doing better than the PS4. While it is $100 more, it comes with Kinect, which is a family favourite, and it is full of features. The PS4 doesn't look as impressive. The launch lineup is great for the Xbox too. And with Sony now charging for the online, like MS, the two are ultimately even in that area. Actually, I don't know about Sony's stance on this but MS are making it so that when you to buy 1 Xbox Live Gold subscription, EVERY account on that console has that subscription. So you no longer need to buy Gold individually for each account.

The biggest thing for me though, is the fanbase. Xbox 360 sold more and had more 'fans' than the PS3. Those 'fans' who were going to jump ship to the PS4 no longer need to swap consoles because, well, DRM isn't an issue anymore. So you can expect all of the previous Xbox 360 fans to stick with the Xbox One because they now have zero reason to buy a PS4 instead. Sony hasn't given them - or anyone really - a unique reason to buy their console, which again makes me think they were counting on the DRM screwing Microsoft a little too much.

Will the Xbox One be better? Ouch. I don't know.
Will the Xbox One outsell the PS4? It's a big possibility that I REALLY think could happen.
Which will succeed better overall? I honestly can't say. I just don't know. 

What I do know though, is that the Xbox One is looking amazing. And Sony are no longer ahead or even winning this fight. If anything, they could be losing it.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming consoles and Microsoft's recent u-turn on the DRM? Leave comments below - I really want to know what you guys think!


  1. "The PS4 may be slightly faster but who cares? 3rd party games are going to be made to work on both consoles so a tad more power isn't going to help the PS4 in any way. Only 1st party games can benefit from this added strength but the extra power the PS4 does have is so minor there's no real way it can even be used."

    It's my understanding though that in the last gen games by third parties were developed for the x-box as it was similar to the pc and easily to port. However porting it for the PS3 was complicated and often the port was worse than the xbox 360 despite being a more powerful machine. This time the PS4 is similar to the PC so third parties will be able to develop for the PS4 primarily then port to XBox, therefore the game should look better on the PS4. How much better? Well the PS4 is technically superior but who knows really til the games are released.

    1. You're correct that devs developed for the Xbox 360 because it was based on the same architecture as PC. This gen is no different. The PS4 is more developer friendly but the Xbox One even has Windows running on it. The PS, as long as it is running a different architecture, will always be harder to develop for. We can expect ports on the PS4 is what I'm saying.

  2. Also when it comes to family consoles I think Nintendo usually have that market. And I can't help feeling a lot of ordinary people won't understand some of the more gimmicky features of the consoles and end up just going on price and games.

    1. Good point. Can't forget Nintendo. I still can't help but think that including Kinect and charging more, as much as it kinda sucks, is also kinda a good idea too. Especially for developers.

  3. Wow I didn't really expect that. u changed your mind too fast man!
    I believe they didn't really listen to their customers. They just saw all the statistics and charts after the E3 and understood that with this DRM thing their share of next gen might be pretty ugly so.. NO! MS is NOT trustworthy.
    on the other hand, I think I'll be waiting for a couple of month after christmas. When both consoles already hit the stores. Then we will Know all about the cons and pros of them. maybe another Red Ring of DEATH (RROD) reveal! Who knows :)

    1. Well I did say in the article that I don't trust Microsoft. They didn't listen to us in the first place so they can't be trusted. However I think it's pretty obvious the only reason MS did change it is to benefit themselves. But that is irrelevant because every company's decision is to benefit themselves somehow. Sony didn't include DRM so THEY would be more popular.

      As a console I personally think the Xbox One looks awesome without the DRM. But I don't like Microsoft.

      Hopefully there won't be any technical hitches with the next-gen consoles though! Another RROD epidemic would ruin everything!!!


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