Opinion: Microsoft is Shooting Itself in the Foot With Xbox One DRM
A number of rumors have been circulating about how the Xbox One will handle DRM. Some say it will require an always on internet connection, while others say it will have to connect to the internet only once every 24 hours. Some rumors say that people will have to purchase used game licenses when you play a game on someone else’s account, while others say that you will have limited access to your own account on other people’s consoles. The reality is, none of these rumors have been confirmed, so it’s quite possible that Microsoft isn’t even considering a DRM policy on their console.
Let’s play a small game of “What if?” shall we? Let’s assume that Microsoft is going to instate some harsh kind of DRM policy that will require used game licenses and connections to the internet. I have a few choice words of wisdom for this as of yet unconfirmed Microsoft… this Hologram Microsoft as it were.
WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU THINKING?
There are numerous reasons why draconian DRM policies are bad ideas. Maybe you have been sleeping through the releases of SimCity and Diablo III, Hologram Microsoft, but their DRM schemes essentially destroyed one of the two biggest franchises in PC gaming. Are you really coming at this with the attitude, “But we can do better?”
Also, do you have any idea how many gamers you will alienate by enforcing these policies? First of all, you will alienate the entire professional gaming scene. These scenes live by hot swapping in multiple copies of games to several different systems. Need a copy of Street Fighter on the system at row C seat 3? Swap it in from one of the casual systems. The thought that each and every system needs an account for each and every game being played would make it nearly unthinkable. It would make events like EVO or UFGT impossible to run!
You also alienate just about every professional organization that wants to use an Xbox One in their event as well. Anime and Sci-Fi conventions won’t be able to have gaming rooms, if only because they won’t be able to access the internet easily. Heck, even massive gaming conventions like PAX will have problems with their console renting model because they will never be able to be sure that the license for a game will match up with the console they are renting out. Actively getting a license for every game on every console would increase their running cost EXPONENTIALLY! Right now, they can make do by having only one or two copies of a cult classic like Disgaea in their gaming library. Now, they will have to purchase that game for nearly 200 systems, as they will for every other game in their Xbox One library!
It goes without saying that you end up alienating people with low disposable income. These people tend to purchase the games that they really like in coordination with their friends. That way they can trade games back and forth in order to be exposed to more titles. Forcing them to purchase licenses won’t cause them to suddenly have more money to spend on your console. If anything, it will cost you money, as they will instead choose to purchase a system that lets them continue trading games in their low income, and not spend what little money they have supporting your product.
And finally, you are alienating anyone who had a sane concept of owning property. What you are suggesting, is a model in which we never actually own video games. Instead, we are just leasing the right to play them from you, oh high and mighty Hologram Microsoft. Anyone who believes that they should have the right to actually own property is going to be turned off by these policies.
But here is the real kicker, Hologram Microsoft. There is already proof that your policies are aiding your competition. Fans have already begun the #PS4noDRM campaign, asking Sony to not be as hard with their DRM policies as you are. Guess what? Sony is supporting this! They are responding to the campaign positively and are reassuring their fans that they won’t instate policies as controlling and limiting as yours. This is proof that you are already losing business to the competition and your console isn’t even out yet!
So please Microsoft, take some lessons from Hologram Microsoft and don’t institute the DRM policies that you are rumored to have. Honor the traditions of pro gaming tournaments, game trading, and used game sales, and make a console that fans can be proud to own, not a console that tries to squeeze every last penny out of them.