Microsoft drops DRM for the Xbox One: Just what this means for you

By Swapnil Mathur | Updated 20 Jun 2013
Microsoft drops DRM for the Xbox One: Just what this means for you
  • After facing a PR nightmare and a major backlash from fans over the new DRM policies, Microsoft has decided to do away with them completely, and in the process, killed some the next-gen console's most anticipated features.

Hell, it seems, has frozen over. After the huge outcry over Microsoft’s ridiculous DRM policies for the Xbox One, the Redmond giant has decided to drop the restrictions on the console altogether. This is a major step for the company that could affect its image in both good and bad ways, but the real winner here is the consumer, and Microsoft apparently doesn’t mind taking a slight hit when it comes to its consumers’ happiness.


Microsoft's Changes to Xbox One Policies
So, what exactly has Microsoft changed and how does it impact you? Read on.

1) No More 24 Hour Online Check
By FAR the most inconvenient policy implemented by Microsoft, the requirement of the 24 hour online checks has been completely dumped. We are hoping this also extends to the 1 or 2 hour online checks in case you are playing on a friend’s console, but the fact that you don’t HAVE to get online every 24 hours for Microsoft to verify the contents of your console, is great.

2) Bringing the Good ‘Ol Days Back
Trade your discs, lend them freely. Play Frisbee with them for all Microsoft cares, with the new policy. Earlier Microsoft had stipulated that you won’t be able to lend games to your friends (save for that one special one), or be able to sell them off to your friends. The reason was that trading or reselling takes away revenue from the developers, whom the company wanted to support. However, there was too much of a backlash from gamers over the draconian ruling.


Microsoft has stepped forward to please its main audience, the gamers, and has said that they will be dropping this restriction as well and gamers will be able to trade, resell and lend their Xbox One games just like they have been able to with the Xbox 360. Somewhere, there is a legion of fanboys rejoicing.

3) Microsoft’s View of One World
Another turnaround the company has made is with respect to region locks on the games. The company is now saying that there will be no region locks on the games that ship for the Xbox One. Not a huge deal at first glance, but now you can buy your games from anywhere in the world and rest easy that they would work on your console. There is no price to peace of mind.


Just What This Means. Is It a Good Thing?
This was all the good news, something to throw in the face of the competition, albeit, after facing a PR nightmare. However, all good things come with strings attached and to all those who cried foul at the new policies (which we covered weren’t THAT restrictive to begin with), Microsoft has listened to your tantrums and dropped the DRM, but in the process, we have lost something GREAT Microsoft was trying to do. Here is what we mean:

1) No More Full Installs
Since the 24 hour online checks have been dropped, Microsoft had no way of verifying what was being done with the discs. To make sure they system isn’t going to be wholly abused, Microsoft has done away with full-installations of games onto the Xbox One. What this means is that the game disc will HAVE to be in the tray in order for you to play the game. This move prevents people from using one game disc to install the game over multiple consoles. If you want to play a game, you better have the disc.


2) Got a Family? We Don’t Care No More!
During E3, Microsoft had announced a Family Sharing Plan, where your entire game library could be shared with up to ten family members. Now because the 24 hour online check has been done away with, the family sharing plan has had to be scrapped. Digitally downloaded games can’t be shared anymore and if your family members want to play a game, they need to pop the disc into the console. They can’t just run it off the console without the disc because, well, there are no more full installs.

Let’s take a minute to examine just how much we’ve lost out because of the unnecessary drama created over the DRM policy. Earlier, as a user, I could have accessed my entire game library on ANY Xbox One console, and played the game. That isn’t possible anymore as the game disc is required to run the game. You can no longer install a co-op based game on your system and give your disc to a friend so you both can engage in co-op game play without having to invest in two discs.


Now that there is no point of game installations, will Microsoft still go ahead with the singular “500GB” version of the console, or will it also release a cheaper version with less storage space? Will the tantrums over the “always-on” Kinect (which actually isn’t always on, but let’s not upset the sheep) lead Microsoft to release a version of the Xbox One without the Kinect?

At the end of the day, Microsoft tried to push for a new model in the console market, one which seemed a little oppressive at first glance, but brought some serious benefits along with it. However, given how most people are just resistant to change, with complete disregard for whether it is good or bad, we now see Microsoft rolling back to the Xbox 360 model, which isn’t such a good thing.

There is still time till the console hits the market and we hope that Microsoft will take the time to figure out how it can bring back the amazing features like full game installs and family sharing to the console without alienating the sheep.

Swapnil Mathur
Digit's resident camera nerd, (un)official product photographer and the Reviews Editor

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