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Microsoft to Pull Complete Reversal on Xbox One DRM Policies

Sources indicate Microsoft is going to move away from what's caused the company so much headache.

UPDATED: Microsoft has confirmed these policy changes are happening.

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The tug-of-war between Microsoft and Sony just got more interesting. Multiple sources inform me Microsoft will announce what amounts to a complete reversal on its DRM policies for Xbox One today.

What does this mean?

  • No more always online requirement
  • The console no longer has to check in every 24 hours
  • All game discs will work on Xbox One as they do on Xbox 360
  • An Internet connection is only required when initially setting up the console
  • All downloaded games will function the same when online or offline
  • No additional restrictions on trading games or loaning discs
  • Region locks have been dropped

It is unclear what caused this huge change in policy right after E3, a week where Microsoft executives spent days explaining, justifying, and talking about its policies to the press. I suspect Microsoft’s official announcement will say something to the effect of “we've been closely listening to consumer feedback.”

Based on what I’m being told, that’s definitely true.

I've reached out to Microsoft for comment.

Microsoft has taken an enormous amount of heat regarding DRM policies with its new console. Sony became consumer heroes at E3, announcing PlayStation 4 would not treat used games differently, and the status quo would reign. The company released this video, twisting the knife:

Of course, Xbox One is still $499 and PlayStation 4 is still $399. But today moves the needle.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
851 Comments
Posted by Fram

Great, so now we have two black boxes with nothing to differentiate them but price, each being lauded for maintaining the status quo of a long-in-the-tooth generation of consoles we seemingly can't wait to leave behind.

Edited by JackColt

@piranesi: Well said. These DRM Freedom Fighters never take the long-view in that none of this will have mattered 2 years from now anyway, when everything was firmly digital.

All that's happened here is a step backwards in the progress we should be making. And MS doesn't even seem to be winning over the real vocal ones. That lot has seemingly only changed their refrain from "Don't trust them, they hate customers!" to "Don't trust them, they gave in to our demands!"

And all this for what? To keep horrible, exploitative businesses like GameStop and GameFly in business?

I'd gladly pay MS $100 right now to help facilitate the downfall of crooked services like that.

Congratulations, internet, you wanted zero innovation, and you seem to have gotten a guarantee of that for all of us.

Edited by SleepyDoughnut

OH SHIT! Nice on Sony for pushing the consumer friendly attitude and forcing MS to follow suit!

Posted by Nashvilleskyline

Having balls to admit they screwed up and stepping up and "correcting" their mistakes, in my opinion takes way more balls than capitalizing on popular demands despite what your personnal beliefs as a company are. Let's be honest here, Sony was gonna do the same, they just used that weakness as an advantage. Smart. What Microsoft did takes balls.

Edited by hostyl1

@game_pad said:

Good.

Otherwise, if publishers want digital games to be the future, they need to look at what other mediums are doing. Netflix, YouTube, and video streaming did not become popular by making physical media worse. They became popular by being a more compelling product. By being more convenient. Same goes for eBooks, digital music, online shopping, online news, email, DVR, etc.

I will say this. Things like PS+ is a huge step in the right direction, and XBLM in the last year or so has been much better about doing sales. For example, XBLM has Sonic Generations on sale right now for $10, and that's cheaper than I could buy the physical copy at any store, including Amazon. Do more stuff like this, and digital games will eventually take over in the years to come, but it will happen the way it should: by consumers making the choice, not publishers.

This is exactly the right way to think about things. For example, MS could have announced that the 10-man family share thing was limited to digital purchases. This would be an advantage for the consumer and for the publisher.

However, the problem is, MS (and Sony and Nintendo) not only have to placate consumers and publishers, but also retail. They need retail for product delivery and co-marketing. Thus it's hard for them to give an advantage to digital that doesnt exist for retail. They are kinda stuck that way. But if it's really important for their business model to go digital, eventually they are going to have to basically shun retail.

As far as I'm concerned though, this is nothing but good news. It's a win for consumers. I know what the benefits of full rights to physical media are, not just some general allegation that 'the power of the cloud' will make games better. Not only did MS try to force a change on gamers, they did a piss-poor job of selling why these changes would be good. They realized their error and corrected. I give them props for that. We'll see what lies ahead.

Posted by CommanderGermanShepard

@jackcolt said:

@piranesi: Well said. These DRM Freedom Fighters never take the long-view in that none of this will have nattered 2 years from now anyway, when everything was firmly digital.

All that's happened here is a step backwards in the progress we should be making. And MS doesn't even seem to be winning over the real vocal ones. That lot has seemingly only changed their refrain from "Don't trust them, they hate customers!" to "Don't trust them, they gave in to our demands!"

And all this for what? To keep horrible, exploitative businesses like GameStop and GameFly in business?

I'd gladly pay MS $100 right now to help facilitate the downfall of crooked services like that.

Congratualtions, internet

I don't understand your mentality, there is no reason MS and Sony can't still do day one digital downloads with games, it just means the normal way of playing games is still intact.

Posted by PenguinDust

So basically all that blather they've been touting about forging a new game environment free from the restrictions of disc based content has been tossed out the window. I thought they were going to build an online marketplace similar to Steam and the only way to do that was through the harsh enforcement of DRM, persistent online verification, and limiting access to purchased games to a select few within a known group. Was that all a bunch of hooey? What an empty dream of theirs to be cast aside so easily.

Edited by paulunga

SCOOOOOOOOOOOPS!!!!

Worthy news story for your last week in the office!

Posted by Ozzie
Edited by TooWalrus

@mrfluke said:

@toowalrus:

Besides jeff has said all that cloud stuff is just more for server side tech than anything else.

Well, for now. This console's going to be around for awhile, though. I'd be interested in traveling to the alternate timeline Microsoft's just created, where they stuck to their guns, and seeing if the gaming landscape is radically different. Maybe they WERE heavily investing in the future of video games? Who knows.

Posted by Jinto

Xbone 180 is still $100 more, still less powerful, still forces mandatory kinect, doesn't include headset and still ugly as sin.

Posted by Threlnos

Good on them. (This guy's still getting a PS4 though.)

Posted by nickystixx

Xbox 180!!

Posted by dezvous

Just having balls isn't enough for me to buy their console. It's telling they had the gall to do this in the first place.

Having balls to admit they screwed up and stepping up and "correcting" their mistakes, in my opinion takes way more balls than capitalizing on popular demands despite what your personnal beliefs as a company are. Let's be honest here, Sony was gonna do the same, they just used that weakness as an advantage. Smart. What Microsoft did takes balls.

Posted by Oddballs

I imagine Mattrick was told by his bosses something to the tune of 'Fix this fuck up or you're stepping down'. How I would have loved to see that meeting.

Edited by MasterTre

@stimpack: You're delusional if you think that Sony is the antithesis to what you see as the money grubbing Microsoft. Don't forget that about 8 years ago Sony announced a $700 gaming console that they emphasized its incredible HD performance and Blu-Ray and HDMI tech and didn't even bother to include component HD cables, all while eschewing claims that no one would buy a $700 console by saying that "they will buy it because we are Sony." It also took about 4 years to have any semblance of an online network that wasn't total garbage. If you think that Sony really cares about gamer's youneed to pull your head out of your ass, if they didn't hit a home run on the PS4 they would be out of business. Their arrogance with the PS3 put them in a terrible, terrible place.

Was I happy with MS's plans? Not really, did I actually see it effecting me in any way? No. Always online? Isn't almost everyone? Does it suck not to be able to just hand off your game to a buddy? Yeah, but that's not something that I did enough to make a huge fuss about it.

Truth is, we don't know what MS's DRM plans would have looked like in practice. People screamed bloody murder when Steam was the only way to get Half-Life 2, everyone thought it was going to be the end of gaming as we know it. And look now, it is almost universally loved. And had MS been agressive with their pricing as Steam was it could have been fantastic, I know not everyone feels the same, but not having to have the disc in the console to play the game sounded sweet to me.

I am glad that MS listened to the consumers and responded by doing what the market demanded, that is what companies should do. Furthermore, do you think MS cares about used game re-sales more than the publishers, they probably hurt their relationship with devs more by removing the restrictions then we realize.

Posted by clush

Another thing I'll add is that MS probably didn't expect Sony to come out fighting as hard as they did. With MS making the first move with their announcement, it would've been easy for Sony to adopt similar DRM policies and pick a pricepoint a bit closer to the XB1's. Instead Sony chose to capitalize in a big way on all the criticisms towards MS. The slide in Sony's E3 event with the announcement of the price on it definitely looked like something some intern put together over lunch, after they heard the selling price MS was going for. Sony's definitely looking for a fight where MS seemed to be merely looking to maintain the status quo we've had this generation.

All of this would've been a vastly different story if Sony would've had to make the first move with MS adapting to them instead of the other way around. Fascinating, really.

Posted by GaspoweR
Edited by flipscardoo

klepek! klepek! klepek! klepek!

Posted by wibby

Waiting for the $100 price drop now ;)

Posted by Nettacki

@jinto said:

Xbone 180 is still $100 more, still less powerful, still forces mandatory kinect, doesn't include headset and still ugly as sin.

It also still forces you to pay for XBL Gold just to access Netflix and other video streaming services, on TOP of the subscription fees you're already paying for those individual services, as well as not allowing indies to self-publish.

Posted by Viking_Funeral

Smart move, even if the damage has already been done. This will help in the long run, and with thos exclusives, might make a significant difference. I never believed that they'd actually do it, though. Shocking.

Posted by Stimpack

@mastertre: See, this bothers me. I'm not going to read what you've written, because you clearly didn't read what I've written. I said absolutely nothing about Sony and certainly nothing I've said reflects the words you're putting in my mouth. If you want to vent, do it to someone else.

Posted by MattClassic

Holy Christ, in the two seconds it took for me to click the link for this article from the front page and load this page, something like 30 new comments were posted.

Edited by JackColt

@commandergermanshepard:

@commandergermanshepard said:

@jackcolt said:

@piranesi: Well said. These DRM Freedom Fighters never take the long-view in that none of this will have nattered 2 years from now anyway, when everything was firmly digital.

All that's happened here is a step backwards in the progress we should be making. And MS doesn't even seem to be winning over the real vocal ones. That lot has seemingly only changed their refrain from "Don't trust them, they hate customers!" to "Don't trust them, they gave in to our demands!"

And all this for what? To keep horrible, exploitative businesses like GameStop and GameFly in business?

I'd gladly pay MS $100 right now to help facilitate the downfall of crooked services like that.

Congratualtions, internet

I don't understand your mentality, there is no reason MS and Sony can't still do day one digital downloads with games, it just means the normal way of playing games is still intact.

That's it just there-- My mentality is that I have no interest in the "normal" models continuing. I was interested in gaming (including single-player campaigns) augmented by the computing power of the cloud. I was interested in my entire physical library being saved to the unit and accessed instantly without the need to change discs. I was interested seeing more fluid pricing models (like on Steam) come to the consoles.

Now, I'll grant you, there were hardly any guarantees of these. But by removing the DRM restrictions from the physical media, it all but ensures that none of these innovations are possible.

  • A dev can no longer assume an internet connection is available and with it the ability to offload compute cycles to the cloud.
  • There is no chance that you will be able to install a game now and be able to play it without the disc present.
  • Brick & mortar retailers cannot be as flexible in pricing as online outlets, because their margins are too low on new games. Insanely low. Under 10%. That means prices will remain up, keeping even the download-version prices high along with them.

Again, I fully understand that the gaming utopia I WISHED for was far from certain, I am simply lamenting the notion that there doesn't seem to be much chance for it all anymore.

I frankly don't understand the mentality of everyone that just wants things to remain "normal."

Posted by dvdhaus

I am sad that Microsoft did this. I was looking forward to the two different approaches that Sony and Microsoft were taking. One of the key selling points for me on the Xbox One was that my games whether disc or digital would all live on the cloud and for the disc based games I would be able to install them and never have to use the disc again. But reading through the Microsoft update, the Xbone will now require the disc be in the tray. And I kinda like buying the disc instead of downloading 8 GB of game data a couple times a month, because every so often I go over my bandwidth cap and have to pay extra.

As for the other features of the cloud, they will still be there as far as games go. All this means is that game developers that use the cloud for computing A.I like Forza 5 will, will require an online connection for those features. Just because Microsoft did this does not mean those features are off too.

Posted by development

Well, if anything, this makes Sony keep up their end of the bargain as well. This is why competition is always a good thing. We benefit when we speak up.

Edited by Genfuyung

Crazy to see all the people who are now cancelling PS4 pre orders and ordering an xbox one. Do they not realize that Microsoft still WANTS to have these policies? Guess it doesn't matter to some people. Insane.

Edited by growndhog

Biggest MS snafu's:

Xbox 360 - RRoD fiasco

Xbox One - DRM fiasco

Both have and will end up costing them untold millions/billions in revenue, RRoD for their extended warranty and DRM for lost sales/customers. I feel kind of bad for Adam Orth now, if that guy deserved to get fired, I think there's a few more heads at the top of MS/Xbox that deserve to be put on the chopping block now.

Posted by subtek

Congrats on the scoops, Scoops!

It's too late to sway me, though. I've already made the decision to get PS4. I'll consider XBOXONE again after a price drop or two.

Edited by mrfluke

@mrfluke said:

@toowalrus:

Besides jeff has said all that cloud stuff is just more for server side tech than anything else.

Well, for now. This console's going to be around for awhile, though. I'd be interested in traveling to the alternate timeline Microsoft's just created, where they stuck to their guns, and seeing if the gaming landscape is radically different. Maybe they WERE heavily investing in the future of video games? Who knows.

personally i just don't see the cloud stuff meaning much at the expense of losing ways that users experience games though.

videogames should be more inclusive and inviting, not exclusive,

funneling everyone into digital and not even replicating some sort of trade in currency and digital rentals is being exclusive

Posted by NegativeCero

I'm just smiling reading this. Like a large portion of the internet, I was ready to write off the Xbox after E3, but at least now they're giving themselves a fighting chance. Still not buying either one on launch day, but it'll definitely be an interesting year to watch.

Edited by CommanderGermanShepard

@jackcolt said:

@commandergermanshepard:

@commandergermanshepard said:

@jackcolt said:

@piranesi: Well said. These DRM Freedom Fighters never take the long-view in that none of this will have nattered 2 years from now anyway, when everything was firmly digital.

All that's happened here is a step backwards in the progress we should be making. And MS doesn't even seem to be winning over the real vocal ones. That lot has seemingly only changed their refrain from "Don't trust them, they hate customers!" to "Don't trust them, they gave in to our demands!"

And all this for what? To keep horrible, exploitative businesses like GameStop and GameFly in business?

I'd gladly pay MS $100 right now to help facilitate the downfall of crooked services like that.

Congratualtions, internet

I don't understand your mentality, there is no reason MS and Sony can't still do day one digital downloads with games, it just means the normal way of playing games is still intact.

That's it just there-- My mentality is that I have no interest in the "normal" models continuing. I was interested in gaming (including single-player campaigns) augmented by the computing power of the cloud. I was interested in my entire physical library being saved to the unit and accessed instantly without the need to change discs. I was interested seeing more fluid pricing models (like on Steam) come to the consoles.

Now, I'll grant you, there were hardly any guarantees of these. But by removing the DRM restrictions from the physical media, it all but ensures that none of these innovations are possible.

  • A dev can no longer assume an internet connection is available and with it the ability to offload compute cycles to the cloud.
  • There is no chance that you will be able to install a game now and be able to play it without the disc present.
  • Brick & mortar retailers cannot be as flexible in pricing as online outlets, because their margins are too low on new games. Insanely low. Under 10%. That means prices will remain up, keeping even the download-version prices high along with them.

Again, I fully understand that the gaming utopia I WISHED for was far from certain, I am simply lamenting the notion that there doesn't seem to be much chance for it all anymore.

I frankly don't understand the mentality of everyone that just wants things to remain "normal."

But again there is no reason why it won't, there is still the cloud and you still get those benifits from playing online.

I was thinking about having a robot in a game with a voice like glados, that pretty much was Siri in a game so you could have conversations to it via cloud processing which would be pretty cool.

And you can still play games on the hard drive, just download them digitally. It's the best of both worlds.

What is a "brick and mortar" store anymore anyway. I haven't seen one since the early 90's.

Posted by ilduce620

Wonderful work, Patrick. Keep it up!

Edited by smithbenji

@jackcolt: You're welcome, just buy all your games digitally from Xbox live, you'll have the same thing you wanted.

Edited by Cjust689

@stimpack: couldn't agree with you more. Most people simply don't understand business, and this move by MS makes them look weak as a company. If I'm not wrong some of the lead project members on Xbox One, left the team because of these decisions early in development. MS is not making a gaming console anymore it's about putting an "entertainment system" in as many households as possible= money. They'll do whatever they can to achieve that. I as a gamer, can't support a company that is ruining consoles(IMHO), and so easily switches on decisions and policies just to gain more ground. There's not brand loyalty to the customer there. Ill admit it was a good move on their part for those of us who want gaming consoles, but I won't support them as they didn't have the "Gamer" in mind from the get go.

Edited by ptys

Hey Patrick, I'd be interested in what you think about Sony's international pricing strategy Xbox One and PS4. I assure you that two days ago the official Australian PS4 site had the pre-order price as $549.00 on the link I've provided. Alot of Aussie gamers can't understand the extra $50 compared with Xbox One, now they have removed the price? I think this is a common theme with other countries.

Why I mention this is because you noted the US price difference at the end of you post, but with Kinect at $50 more for me, there is no price difference in my region.

Edited by ROTTENCORPSE

Good for Microsoft, one of the few companies that actually listen to their consumers. Reserves for the XBOX one were off the charts before this was announced, I can only imagine they will grow even more. Now I wonder if Sony will backtrack off the charging for online play. I will not be getting a PS4 unless they drop that restriction. I already have my Live account, and I cant justify paying another online service with almost zero games worth playing. Most of the AAA titles will be on both systems, and the XBOX exclusives look insane.

Edited by mythrol

Fuck Microsoft for even having to do a 180 on this. They never should have tried to force one type of way on the consumer by killing the old way to begin with. Apple didn't kill CDs by making CDs illegal. They did it by offering a more compelling product. You want to incentivize me to want to download my games. Not try and FORCE me to.

For someone like me who lives in an area where my Internet is not good, digital downloads are not an option. It's faster to buy the game I want on my way home and install it once I get there. Also the entire 24 hour verification was bullshit and anti-consumer in every possible way. Again. Fuck you Microsoft for having the balls to try and force that on me. And fuck the publishers that forced Microsoft to try and push this on us.

With that said, they did the right thing in QUICKLY and HONESTLY addressing this issue. And I am willing to give them a chance as long as they offer a compelling product and i hope they learned very valuable lesson from this - you don't force the consumer to do anything, the consumer makes you.

Posted by EchoEcho

This isn't a victory, it's holding back progress on consoles for another generation. The policies were too restrictive, but now all the benefits (digital library, sharing, quick snapping to games, less dependence on big box retail model, etc.) are all gone.With this race-to-the-bottom, it's been assured that the next generation will just the same consoles with a bit more power.

I hope they'll find a way to give users a choice to do full-install from disc, but I doubt it.

This all the way.

Edited by PandaShake

Nice scooping, Patrick!

Posted by CommanderGermanShepard

This is cool and all. But my friends were totally sold on the "Family Sharing" feature. Kind of a dick move to get rid of that.

Edited by TastyBread

So is ok now to come out and say that I'm excited for the new Xbox? Seriously, I don't care what other people do, but I'm crazy excited about Dead Rising 3, TitanFall, and future Halo's. I was going to buy the system anyway because I don't ever buy used games or take my console places where there isn't internet. This is great news. Why can't we all just be happy about it?

Posted by Zaapp1

This makes Microsoft look much weaker and will probably piss off the publishers they had appeased. I'm sure they did some number crunching, but if people thought Microsoft was behind before, they definitely are now. The boxes are now identical, but one costs $100 more.

Edited by Xaviersx

They had to remain competitive. A line was drawn in the sand, the sand shifted, a new line is drawn. Competition is good and a b*tch.

Posted by Kurt_Rambis

So, basically, the One is now similar in many ways to the PS4, but with weeks of negative publicity. Well played! But none of that will matter in a few months. I'm glad Sony forced Microsoft's hand. They did us all a favor, even if it was for their own bottom line.

Edited by locolumpia
Posted by Hashbrowns

So is ok now to come out and say that I'm excited for the new Xbox? Seriously, I don't care what other people do, but I'm crazy excited about Dead Rising 3, TitanFall, and future Halo's. I was going to buy the system anyway because I don't ever buy used games or take my console places where there isn't internet. This is great news. Why can't we all just be happy about it?

As a general rule, don't let the internet tell you what to be excited about. If you're excited then be excited. I'm still leaning toward PS4 first, but between future Halo titles and Quantum Break, I expect I will likely own an Xbox One at some point in the future.

Edited by graf1k

It was the right move on their part, and props to them for finally realizing it. That said, I would have never thought after E3 that they'd cave and reverse course before the consoles launched. I figured it would take a dismal launch holiday and maybe an additional quarter of bad sales (kind of like Nintendo and the 3DS price drop) to realize their mistake.

As a consumer though, I am still concerned about the hardware limitations and their negative relationship with independent developers. Legit analysis of the consoles have shown the PS4 will have approximately 30% more GPU "power" than the One, and that could be the difference between 1080p@60Hz and not. We'll have to see. That aside, if they insist on no indie published games, that will lose them mindshare and exclusives over time. Considering the 7th generation of consoles was still such a hard-fought and even battle between Sony and MS, despite Sony cocking up MAJORLY with the price, and the 360 having a full year of sales head start, you'd think Microsoft would be a bit more humble.

EDIT: Also, props to Scoops! Dude has one foot out the door, practically on it's way to Chiraq and he still breaks one of the biggest stories of the year in gaming before pretty much anybody else (from what I saw anyway).

Posted by Klurfs

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

this news is too late

there are too many preordered

console war over

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~