Recently, Microsoft let loose the information that they were changing their policies on the Xbox One. Reversing the used game DRM and the online check in requirement, Microsoft made some massive strides to improving the damage done already. Making their system more consumer friendly can only help things, but the way they went about it may have actually made things worse. Earlier, we looked at what may have brought the changes, but now let’s look at what it may mean for us.
Presumably after the extreme backlash they received from just about everyone, Microsoft made the switch to the open ended platform everyone wanted. No longer will there be any DRM on used games. They will operate just as Xbox 360 games do now, and, as a result, gamers can no longer take their disc game collection to any console just by signing in. This seems, to me anyway, like a feature that would have gotten minimal use in the first place. Not only is this more friendly to consumers who buy and sell their games, but it benefits companies such as Gamestop as well as Microsoft themselves, when more people buy their system. This decision is the biggest of the two, and will result in the most gained sales.
Along with the DRM reversal comes the axe to their 24 hour check in requirement. Now the system will only need to be connected during the initial setup, to download the day one patch getting rid of said requirement. While they are still shunning the low income families and consumers who do not have or even desire internet, it is a massive step towards what people wanted.
Since the reveal in May, Microsoft has stood by their decision to have these systems in place for the features they desired to have in their system, so the timing behind this change is strange, especially having gone through E3 just days before toting their policies. Such an abrupt change in the core workings of the console, while still a good thing, could steer some consumers away from their erratic nature. While this change in DRM may have been due to pressure from the publishers or maybe just gamers, but it does reveal Microsoft as the sole cause of such restrictions. It was previously rumored that those same publishers were forcing their hand, but with Sony opting for no used game locks and now Microsoft dropping it as well, it almost looks like nothing more than a cash grab that went bad.
The removal of the online check-in, however, is both a gift and a curse to those who may not have a reliable internet connection in the first place. To put forward an edge case example: if someone who does not have internet service in their home wants an Xbox One, they could buy one and go through initial setup at a friend or relatives house. However, with Microsoft’s extremely lofty promises of making the console more powerful through “cloud computing” means, I can’t help but see that internet requirement as a necessary evil. Even now, Respawn Entertainment has said that their game, Titanfall, would not be possible without Microsoft’s server setup. Down the road, as developers can take more and more advantage of the technology they promise, we will end up with games that, similar to a PC, will not run on the hardware alone, and requires those computations from the cloud. Granted, Titanfall is an online-only game, but they won’t all be. This could be a problem down the road, should Microsoft deliver even a fraction of their goals.
Microsoft made strides to improve their image after getting ripped apart by gamers and media far and wide, but it may be too little too late, or even a momentary change of heart, that could have them flip right back to the previous mindset. As it stands now, they are attempting to sell an inferior setup of components at a larger price than Sony, so their work is far from done, but they can’t be blamed for trying.