The Xbox One And Microsoft: We 'Won'. But What Have We Lost?

Imagine. An alternate history where Microsoft leads with the benefits of the Xbox One's 'DRM' policy instead of cowering behind 'explain at a later date' or, worse, drip-feeding confusing, conflicting morsels as scare mongering headlines waiting to happen.

Imagine. An alternate dimension in which Don Mattrick slides across the stage in the manner we've grown accustomed to.

"'Imagine a world where you are always online," he says. "Imagine a world where you can share the video games you buy with ten of your friends. A world where you can share experiences across the globe, a world where you have instant access to your games no matter where you are. Imagine that.

"Imagine a world where your games don't clog up space on your shelves and drawers. A world where you have instant access to a grand catalogue of the games you bought at the click of a button. One click. Imagine that."

"Ladies and gentlemen... introducing the Xbox One."

Imagine.

Today Microsoft announced a complete about turn on many of its policies regarding used games and DRM. Gone is the need to connect your Xbox One every 24 hours, gone are the limitations on trading games.

"It will work just as it does today on Xbox 360," read Don Mattrick's post.

Just as it does today. Today. Right now. In the present we can understand. The present we're comfortable with.

What have we lost? What impact will today's decision have on the video games we play tomorrow? On the prices we'll pay for those video games? On the ease of accessibility to those games.

The first and perhaps biggest loss is the ability for consumers to share games with up to 10 pre-selected people on our friends list. It's a massive loss. When I call my brother in Scotland we talk about games. It's all we talk about. That ability for us to share those experiences, using the benefits of a forward thinking system is gone. Incredibly, we'll have to leave the game disc in the tray if we want to play it.

It works. Just as it does today on Xbox 360.

What have we lost? The potential for a cheaper, Steam like eco-system on the Xbox One? Maybe, maybe not. I'm not sure if always on would have resulted in a better deal for the consumer but now we'll never know. Microsoft didn't make mention of cheaper games as a result of its DRM, but it was a possibility. That possibility has now evaporated. Now we know nothing will change.

Nothing will change. It will work. Just as it does today.

At E3, behind closed doors, talking to people involved with the Xbox One, the pieces began falling into place. Always on. Cloud backed processing. Sharing games with friends. The vision that Microsoft was so terrified of sharing began to make sense. This was a console built for a different kind of future, a console that would have teething problems, undoubtedly, but would give the consumer power in the end. I'm now in mourning for what has been lost: the ability to easily share my games with my brother who lives thousands of miles away in Scotland. Easy access to my games installed on a hard drive I can easily access from the comfort of my couch. There was a vision behind the Xbox One, but that vision has been compromised.

Something something Henry Ford. Something something faster horse.

The undoubted positive from the whole situation has been the overwhelming, monstrous power of the consumer. Watching that show of force humble a major corporation like Microsoft has been beautiful, regardless of whether that force has been misapplied. It's not our fault. We were working with what we'd been given.

No, the fault here lies with Microsoft. Have we ever, ever in the history of the video games industry, seen such a tremendous, catastrophic mismanagement of public relations? It is my humble opinion that the Xbox One is worse off today than it was yesterday. You may disagree with that assessment but the one thing we can agree on is this: Microsoft colossally screwed up its messaging with regards to the Xbox One. It cowered in fear when it should have led with the benefits. When it should have been beaming with pride, it acted like it had something to hide. Now we're all going to suffer.

In an alternate dimension Don Mattrick slides across the stage. He beams with pride at the future proof device he has just unveiled.

In our reality Microsoft has been humbled and broken and the Xbox One works. Just as it does today, just as it did when the Xbox 360 was released almost eight years ago. We won. But what have we lost?


Comments

    Well I read a nice analogy to this:

    Someone punches you in the face, then apologises, how do you feel about them now?

      That's a horrible analogy and totally misrepresents the situation.

        I disagree. I'm tired of gaming companies pushing the boundaries to see what they can get away with, with the assumption gamers will forget if they back down.

          They are pushing the boundaries trying to IMPROVE gaming, trying to move into the future, not see how much they can restrict gamers.

            I like some of their ideas, but the DRM doesn't improve gaming or push boundaries. It's literally a restriction on what you can do with things you buy.

              For the record, it's the Terms of Use that restrict what you can do with the things you buy.

              The DRM just enforces it.

              The sharing entire game libraries with 10 of your friends did improve gaming, as long as you don't mind a constant net connection. In fact that would be my preferred method of sharing.

                The thing is, that feature - with a perfectly reasonable online requirement - didn't require completely unrelated features to have the same DRM requirement. Just because you play WoW on a PC and it's always online doesn't mean you should need to be always-online to play Skyrim.

                They could have segmented those features and people would've got it pretty easily.
                "Treat discs the way you always have! If you want to do things digitally, online, we have awesome new features you can make use of!"
                It's a very simple message.

                  I see your point, but I didn't mind my disc being a once only use to enable my license to be with me and my 10 friends for use. Doesnt bother me at all. But I can understand other people wanting to sell their discs and have it worth something.

        Explain to me how this analogy is wrong and misrepresents the situation?

        Seriously, I want some words to see you back up your statement

          Sure.

          Assuming for a moment that the policies are a punch in the face (i'll get to why it isn't later). Microsoft only stated they intended to do it. So in that circumstance case it would be like someone telling announcing they are going to punch you in the face. You tell them don't and they respond "Ok".

          The "punch in the face" is not really valid analogue either, because its ALL negative with no positive effects at all. I think you'd have a hard time justifying that Microsoft's policies were all negative. There were some pretty damn cool benefits in there.

          If anything, Microsoft is the doctor with the bad bedside manner trying to give us a vaccine that they say will help us, but were too focused on the side-effects to accept it.

          Last edited 20/06/13 12:11 pm

            Oh sorry, I didn't realise you were an apologist. Sure please carry on eating it up when someone back peddles on a clearly anti consumer policy.

              Ahh the old "You disagree with me, you're an apologist / fanboy" line. Some people are just better at being objective than you are.

              Oh sorry, I didn't realise you were an apologist

              This made me laugh.

                I think you just punched piat in the face.

                Last edited 20/06/13 1:08 pm

                  That's a brilliant analogy and totally fits the situation. :P

            Except that Microsoft has had a hissy fit along with their apology and removed features they could have kept, especially on digital downloads, and are now blaming it on you for not wanting a punch in the face in the first place.

              Hissy fit? I've seen pre-schools better behaved and more coherent than the gaming community.

              The DRM enabled the ability to share games with 10 "family" members and disc-less play.

              Removing the DRM, removed the mechanism what enabled those functions.

                That seems vague. Is there more on that? Or is that all they've said?

                Removing the feature is to me like an angry girlfriend who won't have sex with you because she saw you checking out an attractive girl.

                  I would say that having the DRM in place made the publishers comfortable enough to allow that action into their License Agreement.

                  But it's hard to say with any certainty since the License Agreements would likely have been updated when the product is released. But it's a moot point now.

                  Put it this way:

                  Say MS kept all of the benefits they promised and offered none of the DRM.

                  You can install a game on your hard-drive and your account, and never use the disc again. So you can give the disc to your friend and they can do the same thing. In essence, a group of people could all get a copy of the game from one disc. PC games got around this by having serial codes. Not only did those not work without internet connection, when they *did* there were still code generators, and you can't deny people wouldn't get pissy about having to connect to the internet even once to play a game. Yes, you could argue, they could make it that to install a game you would need to connect, and I think that's a jolly good idea, and I'm not too sure why it hasn't been done.

                  Giving gamers freedom is a great thing, but the companies don't want to just invite piracy onto the consoles, and saying "every disc you can buy can be put onto an infinite number of X-Boxes because you never have to check onto the internet" is just asking for it. Yes, you might say, no DRM is great, that's why things like the Humble Bundle do well. Though, I would argue that the reason the Humble Bundle does well is more due to the fact that you can buy it for a cent. It's *cheap*. Very cheap. The average is usually about $5, and when you can massive donations ranging from the hundreds to the hundreds of thousands, that means a buttload of people have been doing just that. Then, you might say, a DRM-free version of any game would probably sell for more. And that's true: but I would argue that that is because many people would get one copy and share it between them, i.e. piracy, i.e. the initial problem.

                  You could also argue that you can do the same with Steam today, by logging onto a whole load of computers and just staying in offline mode. But here's the thing: you need to trust somebody else with your account credentials, and it's also against the rules. Additionally, most games require you to authenticate with Steam initially anyway. If the Xbox One kept it's initial benefits as it loses the DRM, you'd just need to pass the disc around; no-one would have to share any account details. They would make it incredibly easy to pirate games, and that's not what companies want to do. In a perfect world, it would be, but in that world no-one is pirating games.

            Did we all actually care about always online in the long run? Are we not always online anyway? My computer is always connected to the internet, my xbox 360 too, and my PS3. Sure, sometimes they drop out due to one reason or another, and in which case, I just reconnect and continue.

            Why was everyone freaking out about a reality that already exists? It's fine for your phone, it's fine for your computer, your ipad, your existing console when you're playing online, your steam account lets you play offline, sure, but generally your computer is connected to the internet regardless unless there's some technical problem. It was certainly connected for you to purchase and download the games. 24 hour check in would have literally no impact on you whatsoever as an average hardcore consumer if you were doing the right thing.

            Always on wasn't a problem. The Henry Ford analogy is perfect, you have to tell people what they need and explain why they should want it, consumers don't know what they want. How many people were iffy about iPhone having no buttons when it was released? Being touch screen only. But Apple and Jobs said "No, shut up, this will change everything whether you're comfortable with it yet or not, and it's happening." Now everything is touch based.

            I am still more angry at Microsoft than the consumer. Because I am trying to think of a reason why we can't have both (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqc7CEE0ekE) and coming up with nothing. Why can't the console be always online, with the ability to play games from the harddrive with verification, the ability to swap between installed games on the fly, and share games with your 'family' when you have a connection. But when you don't have a connection, swap over to a more traditional operating format, where a disc is required, where you can't share with family without discs, where none of the next-gen benefits exist, in a flexible, consumer friendly way?

              Really well said. I am in total 100% agreeance with this.

              My phone isn't connected to the internet. When my PC disconnects from the internet I can still play the majority of my games.

              Conclusions that we already have an always-online reality are highly erroneous. How much of the Australian population could currently state that their internet connection would have sufficient speed and stability to reap partial or full benefits of the proposed Xbox One features? How many individuals or households in that subpopulation are going to be literally unaffected as average hardcore consumers?

              I will care about always-online as an anti-consumer practice until such a time that it is not technologically untenable. In the meantime, pushing for advanced online functionality should not preclude the retention of an offline format.

              Last edited 20/06/13 11:34 pm

                Yeah I agree there's always people who are left behind. When Xbox first got released I didn't have broadband, I didn't have it for the majority of its lifecycle. I never played xbox live on the original. And sure they made it all optional, but that's when broadband wasn't a reality for the majority of consumers.

                With Xbox One though, we are living in an age where a large enough population of their main demographic DOES have online, and it is time for them to release a new console, and they need to plan for this console to still be in use, and up to date, for up to 10 years. How much changed in the time since Xbox 360 was released? How many innovations occurred? This was Microsoft trying to future-proof their console in a way that was in accordance with exactly how things are moving right now.

                Again, my proposed solution at the end of my comment above makes the most sense. People like you, scrumptatoes, are happy, and people like me, who probably doesn't have a fast enough connection either right now, are also happy.

                  Going always-online was a method for future proofing a closed business environment, not future proofing in accordance with the times. There was no concerted effort to create a gamer friendly platform; an accusation that is simply reflected by the proffered goal of not having any form of long-term offline gaming option, bar the Xbox 360, in an age where the distribution of sufficient broadband infrastructure is insubstantial.

                  Your claim of a business model that accounts for the next 10 years - I'll be incredibly surprised if we actually see this generation last for a whole decade - holds a lot of merit and is common sense for business. However, taking that need for future expansion as reasonable justification to create an anti-consumer vision of progressive online function has quite clearly resulted in a massive backlash. I'm of the opinion that the backlash wasn't misguided, but Microsoft's rationale and response was.

                  As a fun little stab at the end, you mentioned that no connection would result in a loss of next-gen benefits. Are the only next-gen benefits of the Xbox One found in online functionality? :)

                  @scrumptatoes I think there were definitely valid concerns about the way Microsoft were going about things, and i've had an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach of late about the way Microsoft are going about things and what they are choosing to focus on, but there is always a snowball effect with these things. Some informed people raise concerns, some less informed people spread them, and then the idiots bring up the rear until the thing has become an unstoppable force of misinformation.

                  However all my previous comments were written before I found out about the supposed 'family sharing being a glorified demo' thing, where you can play the family shared games for up to an hour, before your session is ended and you're prompted to purchase at retail price. That changes basically everything in my opinion and now I believe, aside from the quick game swapping (only a convenience thing, to be honest), we're really not losing that much at all.

                  And that if Microsoft revealed this at a later date, they would be crucified by the gaming public. But in a way, maybe that's what this industry needs. Something of that magnitude to fix everything.

                  I would say, yes, aside from some useful looking kinetic navigation features i probably won't even use, the online component is one of the few next-gen things about the new consoles. They still use the same controllers, even more common, albeit powerful architecture, and the same closed-minded publishers are still in control, holding the purse strings, preventing anything other than first-person shooters and derivative action games from seeing the light of day. The games industry is what Hollywood would look like if all they released was endless The Expendables and Fast And The Furious sequels. Oh wait...

                I live in Western Australia and not just that I live right down the bottom of western Australia and even if we only get 200kb per second its enough for the xbox one's 24 hour update. I have a PC and I was gonna just have a PC but the exclusives on xbox one made me reconsider. Gaming should not be mostly about the console but about the games and anyway moving to a digital world would be awesome with the always only thing cus it would download at night when your sleeping.

                  I'm in Perth and my downloads through Xbox Live right now move quite quickly, so yeah I don't think that's going to be a massive problem. The cloud streaming could very well be. But it's just too soon to tell.

            You made me smile with that red, only problem with arguing with small minded people is that they will pull you down to their level and beat you "in the face" with experience

          The analogy is flawed because they didn't actually punch you in the face, they just said they would. The punch in the face analogy would have worked if the xbox one was released with strict DRM (the punch in the face) and then removed it and apologized.

            The spirit of the analogy, however, is still very important.

            Let's correct it to be relate more closely: "Someone threatens to punch you in the face, then apologises when you pull a gun, how do you feel about them now?"

            It's still a hostile act, and you're still going to regard them with less favour than someone who didn't threaten to punch you in the first place (say, Sony). And in my corrected analogy, the gun is consumer buying power.

              That's still not valid because a punch in the face is completely negative. There were multiple benefits that came with the supposed "punch in the face" that people complaining about.

              I for one, was loving the idea of having the ability to share games with up to 10 people and to never have to switch discs to play different games. In my head, Microsoft said they were going to take care of us with some modern medicine that tastes weird at first and half the room started complaining that they wanted the shit they were used to from the 1990's.

              Last edited 20/06/13 1:43 pm

                There was nothing good about daily check-in. Nothing good at all. That was all about protecting themselves at the inconvenience of the consumer. Zero benefit. A check-in every time ownership is transferred? Much more reasonable. But they didn't go that way, did they? They wanted to look over your shoulder as often as possible and penalize you if you didn't let them.

                That's more like medicine which gives you the squirts because the company making it wanted to save money on ingredients - a saving which they then didn't pass on in the medicine price. No consumer benefit.

                So yeah, if you want to compare it to giving people medicine which gives them the runs, compared to medicine which doesn't, sure.

                  The daily check-in isn't the benfit itself, it's a DRM system for the benefits.

                  How else do you propose a DRM system for the ability to digitally share games with up to 10 people and never need physical media to switch between the use of games?

                  These are literally the features that have gone away today because the DRM system is being removed.

                  @mattm I can conceive of at least one method VERY easy. So stupidly easy I don't know why they didn't come up with it in the first place to pre-empt the complaints.

                  "Here's an awesome feature - 10 people who didn't pay can still play! But those freebies need to be online for it. Everyone else doesn't have to be online all the time, but do need to log in just once to make sure their copy is legit."

                  One-time check-in to authenticate media, just like Steam. We're familiar with this on PC. Lending? Same thing - owner has to log on to register the lend, borrower has to log on to register the lend, transaction complete, game away forever. Owner can't use until the lender logs in to register the return, at which point they obviously lose their own playing rights to it.

                  It's so simple I can't believe they didn't think of it. It has foundations in the current Steam precedent. It's not a huge leap. It's not obvious 'over your shoulder every five minutes' DRM except in the case where you're doing something which we might even consider exploitative of Publisher goodwill, in sharing with ten people who didn't buy it. That's something I think everyone would consider a very reasonable way of getting a better deal than their current one.

                  When people objected, it was at getting no extra functionality, and a whole shitload of inconvenience. People complain a lot louder about 'losing' something they had than about not having much use for something extra and new. This way Microsoft would have got PART of their way, without pissing off quite as many people.

                  @transientmind - Do you even realise how MUCH of an uproar this all is BECAUSE the whole thing is complicated to understand for the consumer? It's really the majority of consumers backlashing against MS because they dared design a system that is actually hard to understand, and what is hard to understand is automatically assumed to be bad and sinister. Now your system WOULD work, but it's another layer of complexity ON TOP of their old system. That would literally explode the internet.

          Here's another analogy:

          If this whole thing about MS policy and the Internet... was a game of soccer between the two... then any time an MS player accidently nudged an Internet player, the Internet would grab it's eye, throw itself to the ground, have a tantrum and then cry 'foul' for the referee to do something

          Then a miracle would happen - the Internet would stand up again, and suddenly be ok.

      Not only is that a poor analogy but having someone punch you in the face and apologise is still a million times better than having someone punch you in the face and expect you to like it.

      I have to agree, i feel as though Mark wrote this just "because" not because he actually thinks its true. As I find it incredibly difficult to believe the only good Kotaku author would have such a warped opinion.

      We have lost NOTHING, and gained so much more. ButI hear you cry" sharing games between 10 people that don't even have to be your famliy", this was just silly imo. As nice as it would have been, it hardly helps the industry and you have lost nothing since you can still share with real family and friends as usual. That and diskless gaming which is only a problem for lazy mofo's.

      Kinects amazing things are still there, developers will still utilise the cloud to further a games capabilities. Nothing of consequence has changed for the worse, but we the consumer, have gained a large victory for our rights. This is nothing but good news ALL around.

        Thanks for the compliment, honestly, but I try never to just write something 'because'. I feel like this whole situation is a massive grey area. The DRM had some pretty negative things attached to it, but now we have lost things because of the backtracking.

        I guess what I really wanted to get across was that in another universe, where this had been better presented, better explained, we might have been happier to accept it. The Xbox One has really just been one massive PR failure after another. Their messaging has been borked from day one and instead of trying to be open about it, they hid their beaks in the sand and hoped it would all go away.

        And I agree -- I think it's great that consumers still have this super powerful voice, and that we still have a say, I just think this whole situation might have been different if everything was explained in a more succinct way to consumers.

          ...And if they'd ditched the once-daily. I still fail to see how that was key to a wonderful vision of consumer opportunities, rather than a hopelessly flawed band-aid use in place of more intuitive, less-intrusive sharing solutions. If it had been 'authenticate when trying to change ownership rights' I can't see as many people having a problem with it. Then, any comparisons to Steam would've held a lot more weight.

          I disagree - no matter how you spin DRM / online requirements / region locking, they still negatively impact the consumer.

          Steam have shown how disc-less DRM can be integrated into a platform with minimal disruption to the customer, without an online requirement (and without spamming you with ads). The benefits they offer, particularly with their regular sales, far outweigh con of having mandatory unobtrusive DRM.

          There's no reason Microsoft couldn't have followed their model, while still continuing to offer the family sharing and a used games portal. I think this would be a vision that everyone could get behind.

          Last edited 20/06/13 2:21 pm

          I'm sorry but I find it REALLY hard to believe when the media says 'Oh, they just didn't sell their message well enough'. Well maybe that's true sometimes, but in a lot of the times, when the media comes up with a hook (in this case DRM and Kinect BIG BROTHER) and runs away with it, it's really something that NOBODY can control, even the media outlets that started it. All they can do is just milk it for all it's worth. And Kotaku is one of the BIGGEST culprits. You're just like how Fox News just reports based on the worst preconceived fears and notions. You should hang your head in shame.

        II agree with mark that we may have lost out with how much of a debacle the whole thing is and maybe it wasn't as bad as it sounded. I also think the family sharing was most certainly not going to work the way people assumed, and as you said that would be a huge industry loss of potentially 9 sales for each game per parent account, the way MS was trying to curb this behaviour it doesn't make sense that is how it would work.

          How can you be certain of something you haven't experienced? Honestly internets...

          That apple tastes like a croissant even though it's never been in my mouth.... Trust me! I read it on a forum somewhere!

          They could have been planning to do it the way Blizzard does. You have to have the same last name on all the accounts you are sharing between.

            You're right they could have, but even you and I can see how that could, would have been exploited. Microsoft wants you to buy the games and wants to stop you from giving those games to your friends easily, that much is clear, so why would they have allowed it.

            I'd expect they'd do it the way the Xbox Live Family accounts are set up now - there's a single master account with the credit card and access controls, and child accounts that can only buy stuff with credit from that card. Would your friends be cool with asking you for everything? And with you having the ability to restrict their gaming hours and access?

            To be fair though, I did like that they were willing to let you decide who your 'family' is. Non-nuclear families are a lot more common these days.

        The ability to share my entire library with 10 of my irl friends easier and more completely, while allowing me to play any and all of theirs was my best reason to buy an xbone. Now its just exclusives which are pretty meh...

      That might be the case... if you had bought an Xbox One and discovered all of this, then had those 'features' taken away?

      A better (but still poor) analogue would be someone threatening to punch you in the face and instead of walking away, you stand there shouting back at them.

    I'm betting that this was Microsofts plan all along. Will it win lost fans back? Guess time will tell.

      I seriously doubt that this was their plan. They believe(d) in the vision. As Mark pointed out, there are elements of it that make lots of sense.

      My feeling is that consumer interest will now probably be about even in the first year or so after launch. Assuming they don't screw up their message again.

        My feeling is that consumer interest will now probably be about even in the first year or so after launch. Assuming they don't screw up their message again.

        I'm not so sure about that - I think the damage done to the Microsoft's reputation may take years to fix.

        Their back-flip on the DRM / online requirement / region locking puts them on par with the PS4, but doesn't really give customers who jumped ship to Sony a compelling reason to come back (apart from platform exclusives).

        I think Microsoft may have missed another opportunity here - they could have gone one up on the PS4 by keeping the disc-less and family sharing options, and won back the customers they lost and then some.

      I doubt it - if they'd been thinking about this for ages, they'd have leaked the original plan, then come out at E3 with a big "actually, that's not what we're doing, we're going no DRM". Timing it a week after E3 makes it look like a desperate reaction to Sony's dominance there, even if it was a sneaky plan.

    I get the feeling that MS removing the disc-less play & the 'family' member sharing thing is a bit of a sulking 'fuck you' to gamers.

    theres no reason that these two things couldnt happen even without checking in daily (the family thing for sure, the disc-less play, less so, but still...)

    this whole thing just seems immature.

    & for the record, I didnt have a problem with the DRM to start with, i just didnt like how they communicated their message. not that I was gonna get an XBone anyway, but yeah...

      If I can install a game and play without the disc, and you can play offline with my same disc. Why on earth would we both buy a copy of the same game?

      If I’m Bethesda, I can kiss at least 50% of sales for my next single player RPG goodbye.
      Seems pretty obvious why they’d get rid of it….

        same thing could happen with the previous set up.

        check in, disconnect from the net, play whatever game you've 'borrowed', stop playing, reconnect to the net for tomorrows check in. rinse & repeat.

          Part of the native registration plan (or whatever they called it) for games on the Xbone meant that when you used a game on a console that wasn’t it’s native machine (the first one a game was registered to) the online requirement was to check every 15 minutes or something like that.

          It sounds like you could have managed it so you could maybe play on two systems at once, but it sounds like it would have been a pain in the ass. With NO online requirement at all it would be a free-for-all.

            That's right. Check-ins were more regular at the start until people complained, so Microsoft lowered it to once every 24 hours which was too lenient in my opinion because of reasons you mentioned.

            Anyway, I'm really disappointed after todays news. I looked forward to those digital benefits, like I cared about check ins, I have dsl and tethering at home and I never buy used games.

            Today Microsoft said fuck you to the people who preordered, so I reversed my preorder and will make my mind up at a later date.

        This is why MS could have done this:

        Let someone install a disc (which must be verified by Xbox Live first).

        Let that person give the disc to a friend. Meanwhile, the first person can play from the hard drive, but the console needs to check DRM every 24 hours.

        Meanwhile, the friend who borrowed the disc, installs to hard drive - Xbox Live sees that the disc has been used before; finds the account that currently owns the game, and promptly prevents them from playing it. That way - only one person can play at a time.

        It's probably not as easy as it sounds, but I'm saying there could have been other ways.

          So basically , what they initially described, but with the added bonus of, if someone stole your disc, they could lock you out of the game you bought, with possession of your product being permission to lock you out of it, regardless of how they obtained it.

          Back to the drawing board?

    The reality is, the online authentication was going to offend some of the market no matter what (particularly those that simply do not have reliable internet access at all), and they wouldn't have been pleased by any amount of added features and flexibility.

    Supporting the Xbox future and disappointment over what we'll now miss out on just makes you an Xbox fanboy, so you're stupid and your opinion doesn't matter and PS4 fans are going to drink your salty fanboy tears.

    Blame Microsoft, or better blame yourselves Kotaku for inciting the fear and rage

      Kotaku didn't have to incite fear and rage. Microsoft did a pretty good job of that all by themselves.

        Not really. I would have liked to have seen more articles about the benefits of their policies like the game sharing, and instant game switching, instead of inciting fear and rage by pretty much only reporting on the negatives. Unfortunately, not enough people knew about these features we were losing :(

    Mark Serrels, you nailed it. Had the benefits been better communicated in the beginning, the consumer outcry may not have been as extreme. It's a sad day for me. I was really looking forward to X1 being the future, and I believe in that future... I suppose there's still hope that friends/family sharing with 10 others can come back in some capacity with any titles purchased digitally... After all, currently they're just saying it won't be available at launch... but bottom line, the consumer's voice won out... for those of us who believe in MS's vision, we're now taking a step back to accommodate the vocal minority, and that does kinda' suck.

      I agree. I just feel like this is a pyrrhic victory for consumers.
      I for one was looking forward to a PC style method of purchasing / activating online and not having to worry about discs anymore.
      Hopefully they are able to implement online sharing, online activation, etc. down the track when people have cooled down. Because at the moment it feels like the technology has been dragged back in time.

        Yep. I suppose one positive is that *every* game that is released will come out day one downloadable as well... so I my end up just buying digital... and then if the family library sharing ever comes back, all of my purchases will be ready for it... and I won't have to worry about disks... but then again, I might go with discs since I can trade them in, and/or sell them... I just don't know, but I was 100% on board with the previous plan... but clearly I'm a minority within the vocal-gamer minority. :-)

      If we were the vocal minority then where was your voice in the last few months.

      I heard a handful of people get on and express an interest in where M$ was going but the noise was overwhelmingly in the other direction.

      Also, more worryingly for M$ is that a lot of the comments were coming from people who supported them THIS generation.

        "Also, more worryingly for M$ is that a lot of the comments were coming from people who supported them THIS generation."

        Or so they said. Can't trust the internet. Can't even trust me. I'm probably a Microsoft employee ;)

          I own a 360 I don't own either of the other two - I can only speak for myself.

          All they would need to do is visit the Major Nelson's blog and run the log in email addresses against their customers email addresses to get an idea of how many people were jumping ship

    I think the problem is that they were trying to build a future that was too divorced from the present. People (and the infrastructure) just aren't ready for some of the stuff Microsoft were proposing with the One, and because it was so poorly explained (so, so poorly explained), it wasn't clear that actually there were some pretty decent benefits to going that way.

    Instead of sticking to their guns, or stepping back and saying "look, guys, here are the pros and cons of doing it our way, figure out if it's worth it to you", they've said "alright, we give up, keep your discs, but we're taking our toys and going home". It's undoubtedly the best move for them in the present - apparently preorders on Amazon spiked significantly - but maybe if they'd kept to their original plan they'd have made up for it over the next year or two, when people could step back from their immediate emotional reaction and say "huh. That actually is kind of cool."

      Microsoft knows their own market. They know the people who’ve previously bought Xbox’s (Americans, Europeans mostly), they know the people who are likely to buy Xbones and they have a very good idea how many people are ACTUALLY going to be excluded from that market by implementing a once a day online requirement.

      The online requirement hasn’t been brought down by any kind of fact-based consideration of the broadband penetration in Microsoft’s key markets. The market is ready.

      It’s been brought down by a comparatively small number of gamers with a very loud axe to grind against DRM who are drowning out positive media for the machine before it’s even been released on the market.

        It’s been brought down by a comparatively small number of gamers with a very loud axe to grind against DRM who are drowning out positive media for the machine before it’s even been released on the market.

        You don't make a decision on a platform worth billions of dollars based solely on a vocal minority of gamers. If your pre-order numbers drop through the floor however, then you start to take notice.

          Agreed about the pre-orders, ultimately it was sales concerns which ultimately sank the policy (as they always should).

          The point I was trying to make is that the level of negative media was unreasonable and far outweighed the actual impact of the policy, the vocal minority wasn’t just whinging, they were completely controlling the media cycle and ensuring that the important things about the Xbone weren’t being reported as they should have been.

          Imagine if the ending of Mass Effect 3 had gained all the media attention it did BEFORE the game was released. It would have seriously damaged the sales of the game even though the vast majority of people who bought that game probably played through it from start to finish and thought it was great (like I did). It’s not until you get a room full of nerds in a room together that you get the death threats and other hysteria about how the whole series was “ruined”.

          The problem for Microsoft is that the Xbone isn’t out yet for regular people to play (and have it work fine in their internet connected households), the ONLY coverage it’s getting is from rooms full of nerds and those nerds were killing it before it had a reasonable chance to succeed. Dropping this policy takes away the hysteria and allows reasonable consideration of a (now worse) product.

      Look, in a witch hunt, it doesn't really matter what the witch says to the mob. They want blood and they will have it.

    That possibility has now evaporated.

    I disagree whole heartedly with this. Just because one method did not work, does not mean another method cannot. A digital distribution and sharing platform can work, as long as it's tied to an account instead of a machine no doubt. I don't think anyone realistically was against the idea of the machine, like STEAM, needing to check digital licenses once every so often at a reasonable period of time, given you *purchase* digital licenses online, then it's a given you're using a net connection. However it's the disc based requirements that were the kicker. Owning the disc and having those requirements thrown on you were just ridiculous.

    In future, even the near future, a platform can be implemented digitally via the XBone to do this very thing, but I feel more research may be required, maybe experimentation by MS rather than just throwing themselves in the deep end without floaties at first. That's a sink or swim situation and they sunk. There's no guarantee of swimming.

      Indeed - MS can still offer all the advantages of disc-less games, including remote sharing, purely through the downloaded games it already offers, while allowing offline gaming, trading, physical sharing etc for games on discs. Best of both worlds. I don't know why they didn't announce that today, but there's still years ahead.

      It's worth noting that even Steam doesn't require online check-ins. If Valve can allow offline gaming on an open platform like the PC, MS certainly could on a closed console.

      To my knowledge the removal of the 24 hour check in and whatever other DRM in place is by a day-one patch. This should mean that all the (positive) features are still there, just currently deactivated.

      I really, REALLY hope at some point in the future they bring those features back.

        The sharing unfortunately has most likely turned out to merely be a demo service, where you can play for up to an hour roughly before you're diverted to the store to buy the game. So essentially the sharing option is redundant and... well... crap. Definitely not the free for all service Gamers were expecting. Like I was saying in other threads, when thought about logically, there was no way publishers were going to allow their profits to be cut from 100% to potentially 10% (10 sharing 1 full copy? Not going to happen). Traded games is one thing, but outright giving it away is another.

        Other features though I do really hope get brought back indeed, there's really no reason why they can't.

        Last edited 22/06/13 1:26 am

          Quote from the Xbox homepage (xbox wire)

          Give your family access to your entire games library anytime, anywhere: Xbox One will enable new forms of access for families. Up to ten members of your family can log in and play from your shared games library on any Xbox One. Just like today, a family member can play your copy of Forza Motorsport at a friend’s house. Only now, they will see not just Forza, but all of your shared games. You can always play your games, and any one of your family members can be playing from your shared library at a given time.

          This wasn't the quote I was looking for but it's close enough. My understanding was that you (the host of the library) and ONE other family member could be playing games from your library at the same time. They never specified if you could be playing the SAME game at the SAME time (which would've been awesome, and unlikely).

          Regardless of how many people could play at once this would lead to a profit loss, but I would assume the publishers accepted it given they were now making money off used game sales. And now that the DRM is gone and presumably the profits from used game sales, I doubt this feature will return down the track.

          Anyway, the sharing be a demo service that redirected you to the store page, was that speculation or did you read/hear it somewhere?

            From the pastebin from the 'microsoft employee' ranting.

            Before you go getting all selective, reread this: "The sharing unfortunately has most likely turned out to merely be a demo service". Which means it may or may not, I still say it is most likely that. Logically there's no way companies will risk losing up to 90% of their profits so you can share games digitally. It makes no sense in any possible way.

              Yep, I worked top down this morning (up late) and replying to your comment was above reading the referenced article. I'm not gonna immediately accept what the "microsoft employee" says as truth, but I'm going to stop using the (potentially awesome) family sharing as a reason we were better off with the "old" xbox one until more information arises.

    I'm not interested in the XBone. I wanted to be, but I'm just not in the aimed for demographic with the exclusives and media features. That's cool, I won't begrudge MS for that.

    What I will begrudge them for is not having the spine to stick with a plan that actually may have worked to the benefit of the gaming community. Was the XBone really terrible, or just misunderstood because the launch was pissed up the wall by pretentious MS execs? I guess we'll never really know...

    I said in another article, MS didn't really have to back off completely, they just needed to make discs work the same as they always did and press forward with their vision for the digital future with downloadable titles. That way consumers are given a choice about how they want to use their console, instead of having the connectivity forced on them.

      Exactly. My viewpoint was always that Discs should not need the checking but digital content was essentially fine, as long as its not DLC FOR the disc based game. I think the 24 hour thing was a bit harsh, maybe a 7 day policy would've been welcomed a bit more.

        With discs out of the equation, it removes the need for any sort of 'check-in'. The only time the state of your digital library changes is when you are online making those changes...

          Not entirely, the shared profile thing was always going to be tied to checking in, to ensure multiple people weren't on the same account at once (fair enough), but the draconian measures it implemented at other times were just silly.

    They should make it a choice made when first setting up your XB. For people that have steady net connections to still be able to use DRM for the convenience of not needing to insert discs to play.
    It was the way the tried to shove it down peoples throats that was offensive.

      I thought this same thing, but it really needs to be one way or the other for discs. If you don't have to activate a disc based game at least once then there would be nothing stopping someone from installing it to their HDD and then selling the disc to someone who never activates it.

    What have we lost? The potential for a cheaper, Steam like eco-system on the Xbox One? Maybe, maybe not. I’m not sure if always on would have resulted in a better deal for the consumer but now we’ll never know. Microsoft didn’t make mention of cheaper games as a result of its DRM, but it was a possibility. That possibility has now evaporated. Now we know nothing will change.

    That possibility would never emerge. This is Microsoft; they do not know the meaning of a cheaper prices for holder software.

    If they could get away with it, we'd be paying adjusted prices even for Windows 3.11.

    The problem with Microsoft (beside the obvious PR disaster) is they could have offered the benefits without the DRM but chose to play Big Brother and tread in areas they had no right to tread.

    They could have offered digital downloads (I refuse to use the term cloud as I studied that field since its inception by Amazon in 2002 and they are NOT offering cloud based services) and the sharing without the excessive DRM. They could have left the second hand game market alone.

    But in the end, they caved to the near sighted publishers and tried to help them pass the first sale barrier. And for that, they lost out big time.

    If they focused on the consumers and developers they might have been better off. Heck, if they took a page from how things were done back in the 90s and early 2000s (when it was about taking risks and trying any game idea regardless of cost) things might have been better.

    Last edited 20/06/13 11:26 am

      It didn't matter if the online store was cheaper really - I could've bought game disks on special from Ozgameshop (or the like) and still had the benefits of digital ownership.
      I was really looking forward to having a gaming jukebox in my loungeroom but oh well...

        You may not have noticed this but the whole goal was to move towards "Approved" retailers.

        You know how publishers forced Greenmangaming to up their prices for Au or they would no longer be allowed to sell their games?

        This was Microsoft's long term goal.

        Anyone looking for price savings wins on their new stance - no region-locking.
        Grey Imports Ahoy!

          That is a definite plus! Ozgameshop will still be getting my money.

            I hear those guys are great. I'm going greenman for a lot of digital, but when it's console time (Edit: PS4 - jury's still out on xbone), I'll definitely be looking ozgameshop's way. Haven't tried them yet, but only hear good things.

            Last edited 21/06/13 3:58 pm

        You can't hook up your PC and use a free service like Spotify etc to do the same thing?

          I think you misunderstand - not a music jukebox, a gaming jukebox :)
          All of my games on the HDD so I can change between them without handling the physical media.
          Like I said, the benefits of digital ownership and the benefits of retail choice.
          Instead we maintain the status quo.

      ^ This is exactly hoe I see it. Well said

      Just in Microsoft's defence this week you can buy Sonic Generations through Games on Demand for $10, a few weeks ago I got Toy Story 3 and Dark Souls for $10ea and earlier in the year I snagged MG Peace Walker for $5 and Dishonored for $30.

      All of these prices are cheaper than retail AND ozgameshop.

      They may not be discounting quite like Steam yet but this year they have made significant strides in that area.

        And there was the sale around the start of March , Steam style daily specials , 5 -10 titles a day for a fortnight or so - Tekken TT 2 (under a year old), CivilizationRev, RE4 for $10, M&M and Raving Rabbids for $3 , Kane & Lynch for $5 amongst the titles I picked up , just off the top of my head.-

        They've been pushing the Games On Demand sales pretty regularly this year.

          I got Max Payne 3 during those sales for $4.95 AU and sold my disc copy back to eb for nearly triple that.

    Hopefully they'll be able to find a happy compromise in time. It's not hard to imagine with next years spring update they allow the ability to transfer a disc license into a digital one and enable a family sharing option with digital games. I think they still clearly want to move in that direction but now they're just taking a bit longer to get there, and the ability to play offline really is crucial. I think most importantly they need a strong launch year and from the majority of feedback I'm seeing, this move will help that significantly. Am I disappointed they didn't stick to their guns? Yes. Do I think they're about to totally abandon their vision? I doubt it.

    Seems like Microsoft is "in the huff".

    Just because we didn't eat our meat, we can't have any pudding.

    The game sharing would not require the mandatory DAILY online authentication. Maybe new games wouldn't be added until you go online, but that should be an option, not a demand. The recent news about Steam adding game sharing is proof of this.

    If the future of gaming is being told when and where and how you get to play your games, then I'm out.

      That may have been the deal they struck with publishers.

      Whatever benefits we were meant to be getting for the XBone, MS did a truly abysmal job of selling them to us while the negatives were all too clear. Nobody wants a system that phones home. That's something malware does.

      Haha, I've been trying to think of a word to describe how I think Microsoft have acted here. "Huffy" is perfect, thanks :P

    It's hard to have faith in a product when it doesn't seem to have faith in itself.

    “Imagine a world where your games don’t clog up space on your shelves and drawers."

    You mean like if you had the choice to buy digitally?

    "Imagine a world where you can share the video games you buy with ten of your friends."

    I have trouble imagining a an industry that despises used games with every ounce of their being allowing consumers to do this with complete freedom.
    I can already do this, albeit not ten at once.
    Of course the usefulness of being able to share a game with ten friends at once isn't something I've always desire anyway, and certainly not at the cost of other functionality I prefer so maybe I was never the target there... nor was anyone I know I guess.

    ‘Imagine a world where you are always online,”

    Science/Medicine suggests this has many negatives to counteract the positives. I'm not saying it's a demonstrably bad thing, but it's also false and frankly irresponsible to pretend it's an inherently good thing.

    "A world where you can share experiences across the globe, a world where you have instant access to your games no matter where you are."

    My PS3 already lets me do this with digital... and it's not like my physical collection is anchored to my home.

    "Nothing will change. It will work. Just as it does today."

    Never has there been a line said about more things that has been so completely and repeatedly false. Is this what people said when going from the PS2 to the PS3 and finding out we'd still be using discs and there would be no DRM? Because a LOT changed, games became available digitally, account systems that allowed you to download games from anywhere came into being, online gaming came to the fore despite the consoles working offline. Yikes people, change is not inherently good to begin with, and even if you can grasp that, please try to understand change can come in more than one way. The catastrophising of this issue in a matter of hours is mind boggling.

      "You mean like if you had the choice to buy digitally?"
      Except buying digitally locks you into purchasing from the Xbox On Demand store rather than being able to take advantage of more competitive retail prices in Aus as well as overseas.

        As I said in another article, that isn't something inherent in the system, you can easily easily easily have codes ala steam that allow you to buy games digitally from places like ozgameshop. Microsoft not allowing it doesn't make it somehow impossible, it's simply more anti-consumer policy, much like buying games from the xbox store being more expensive to begin with. It actually breaks down to 'I wish Microsoft didn't change this policy that screws some customers because of their other policy that already screws all customers.' Shouldn't you simply wish prices on their store were fair to begin with?

        Also as much as I disagree with higher prices digitally (It should be the other way round), you're still basically saying 'I think we should have our options for purchase limited so I don't have to pay a bit more for what I percieve to be a more convinient option for me personally.' As it stands people who prefer/ need to buy physically can, people who prefer to buy digitally can, and the problem is digital costing more when it shouldn't, which is not the fault of the consumer. Your argument is not one against having the option to use discs with less DRM, but one against what you think is an unfair pricing scheme (I agree with that part 100%).

          Believe me, I do wish the prices on their digital store were more fair to begin with! However that situation is a lot more complicated than Microsoft's policy to screw consumers. There is an issue there with publisher's relationships with Microsoft and retailers which has been discussed to no end on other articles, which I'm sure you've seen.

          I don't necessarily want people's options for purchase limited any more than those who want to trade in / swap physical copies of their games want my purchasing options limited.

      Seeing as you can only ever play w/ 2 concurrent games at any time w/ the 10 family share system I think it's still rather moot =P

      At the moment i can share my game w any amount of people even though it's only 1 at a time.... somehow it doesn't seem so big does it?

    I for one am happy with the changes, discless play is not important to me and let's face it, the Xbone only has a 500GB hard drive. You'd only be able to fit 20 maybe 30 games on it before it was full, and if you deleted a game to fit a new one on and wanted to play the other game again at a later date, you would have to install it again, which would take longer than just putting the disc in.

    I've only got one person in my "family" that's a gamer, and he can't get internet, so the sharing thing isn't a big deal to me either.

    Also, I don't want "always online". The day consoles go always online is the day I become a solely "retro" gamer. NOW GET OFF MY LAWN!

      I'm pretty sure you could plug in a USB HDD for extended storage - same as you can now with a USB stick on a 360.... I'm sure I read that buried in one of the specs sheets they released.
      I was worried about the HDD size until I saw that

    It's funny but I think there's a good chance that we'll look back on today and see it as a massive loss for the console industry.

    With the console industry (apparently) going backwards in the face of modern, streaming, mobile technology we've seen a comparatively small base of obsessive gamers kick and scream until they got exactly what they've always had and they've stagnated console gaming for the next 6-7 years. We've essentially got the Xbox 361 and PS3.1 for our next generation consoles now.

    No matter what you think of them. Microsoft aren't completely stupid. They knew full well they were going to cop shit from some gamers for the online requirements, they also knew that once the Xbone came out 99% of their existing market were ready and able to accept a console which has a once a day online requirement. They know that an online requirement means that people without internet won’t buy their product but they know their market and they decided that it was so few people that it was worth isolating them anyway.

    They aren't saying "fuck off' to potential customers as so many people have said, they want you to buy their console, they just know that the percentage of people who the requirement would ACTUALLY isolate is barely any.

    The problem they've had is that the core gamers with an axe to grind against the requirement have been so hysterical that media coverage of it (and don't forget, gaming media is and the core gaming community are essentially the same thing) has completely blocked out anything else Microsoft is doing in the Xbox space (Online benefits, games, the controller).

    The Xbone is a worse console today than it was yesterday for the vast majority of people on this planet who actually buy games consoles. Today’s decision was done to appease a (comparatively) small share of the gaming market which outputs 99% of gaming media.

      Maybe not so much. Maybe the innovation just has to come from Sony instead of Microsoft if it's to be positively-received. ;)

      Preferably in a way where we're offered instead of forced to join the future, and there are meaningful benefits for consumers while the disadvantages are as few as possible.

      Eg: Daily authentication? How exactly did that benefit consumers, when the goal to monitor licences could've been met by forcing online only when a transfer of ownership occured? Authenticate once to start playing - just like Steam. We're used to it, AND it makes sense.

      They got too greedy, plain and simple - their bright new vision was not going to be all happy and fun for consumers. It was about control, not choice. If someone can bring us that shiny new future in a way that's of actual benefit to us consumers, they'll probably be embraced.

      Highly doubt it.

      99% is more than a bit far-fetched. its a bit naive to think that just because people live in western countries they don't have internet problems. Also naive to think that people who own consoles don't have internet problems. There are people who buy consoles instead of PCs specifically because they prefer no online, no DRM gaming.

      That would make up quite a chunk of console owners and guess what, they are now not MS's target market. Of course people will get upset.

      Regarding this being the future and the way forward... Do you remember SOPA?
      Not everything big corporations want not to benefit the consumer....Scratch that, 99% of what big corporations want are not to benefit the consumer.

      Your online future will be inevitable. In time, it will make its way in one incarnation or another...just like SOPA, it will definitely become a reality. The consumers will fight as long as they can but unfortunately its inevitable.

    Yes Microsoft delivered their message in a horrible way. But because people concentrated one what they had perceived to have lost, instead of the possibilities of the future- By "winning", we have lost the chance for companies to really try and be innovative for fear of backlash.

    It really coincided with the NSA PRISM leak, people shunned that like it was horse meat.

    All of these policy changes made to increase sales for the XBone seems very familiar to the New Coke scenario.....

    That sure is alot of imagines marky boy

    What's with all these lazy people who can't get up and swap a disc? I mean sure if the choice was there like in pc games, but to sacrifice the value of said disc for the ability to not ever use it again?

    People also complaining about games 'clogging' up their shelves, what are you putting on your shelves instead then? DVDS? Books? Pictures of your family? Eugh what a waste, all of those things can be digital now too!

    So now the shoes on the other foot, all those happy with Microsoft's first plan will now shout out and complain just like those who were against it, until now of course.
    I wonder which side will cause the biggest noise, maybe Microsoft need to give it a couple of weeks and compare was there more for or more against. Maybe those who liked the original plan should have gone into bat harder than they did when all the "against" group piped up.
    The age old story is you hear the complaints but never the support. Next time you think a great idea comes along, get vocal in the same way you would if you hated it. This article and many similar ones saying the same thing and making the same valid points should have been shouted from the roof tops from day one... yes by Microsoft, but more so from consumers who believed in it, as consumers are the ones who's voices a heard louder than any company presentation is.

    I don't care either way as I won't get any new console for sometime to come, PC serves me well still.
    There is pro's and con's on both sides, but lets not forget, nothing has been taken away from you since MS have reverted back, you haven't lost a thing because it was never given to you.
    The original plan was not going to change the way we game, connect, share or anything simply because Xbox was the only one who was trying to make this happen. Sony said they weren't interested, Nintendo take care of their own anyway so there is no loss to a new world of gaming, just loss to an alternate console experience.

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