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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 august
Posted by Brodin

That's great to hear! Now I would just love to hear that xbox live gold is free....

Posted by Zohar

I have gone from "definitely not buying an Xbox One" to "Still very unlikely to buy an Xbox One"

The DRM stuff was not going to strongly effect me me personally, but on principle I mostly disagreed with what they were doing and totally understood why people were so up in arms about it. Xbox still doesn't have any exclusives I care about enough to spend $500 and deal with Xbox Live fees and have Kinect forced on me, so I'm still gonna pass.

PS4 is a definite, PS+ represents awesome value, I like Sony exclusives, Sony has had the right message all along about DRM and focusing on gamers first and their system level stuff is just way more interesting to me than anything non-gaming that MS is doing with the Xbox One.

Posted by OGinOR

Do NOT like.

Don't sell me on the future and then roll it back and deliver me the past. The Kinect interface is fun, but don't sell me on never having to worry about discs again and a game library that's available to me anywhere, anytime and then deliver me a system I can get for $100 cheaper from someone else.

I still have hope that MS's cloud-computing will deliver me at least a glimpse of the future - otHerwise, why am I not just buying the same-old, same-old Playstation?

Edited by MrKlorox

Uh... no shit? Like anybody didn't totally expect this from day one.

Posted by RioStarwind

Great job on getting this story out first (or at least really close to first) Patrick! Certainly a great day to be a consumer of video games. Fight for my money Sony/Microsoft!

Posted by aceofspudz
@oginor said:

Do NOT like.

Don't sell me on the future and then roll it back and deliver me the past. The Kinect interface is fun, but don't sell me on never having to worry about discs again and a game library that's available to me anywhere, anytime and then deliver me a system I can get for $100 cheaper from someone else.

I still have hope that MS's cloud-computing will deliver me at least a glimpse of the future - otHerwise, why am I not just buying the same-old, same-old Playstation?

Agree. I was looking forward to not having to fuck around with discs and not having to pay for broke-ass used game freeloaders. I was looking forward to a system that assumed you were always connected.

Posted by Deusoma

@sickvisionz said:

Well, that ruins anything cool that could have been done with the cloud. If there's a chance people will be offline and unable to access it then it can't be used for anything that would actually be worth having.

I'm going to let you in on a secret, friend. It wasn't going to be used for anything worth having anyway. :-)

Posted by Garviell

Fuck em. They already showed what they think about their customers.

This will probably get back some hardcore xbox guys but meh, i'm still gona go to the PS4.

Posted by Vrikk

I don't care. None of you should trust them until forced to otherwise. Don't believe their "we love you, gamers!" bullshit. You damn well better believe the only reason they are doing this is because they got knocked to the mat before the first round's bell even dinged.

PS4 until the Xbone gives me at least 5 reasons to change my mind.

Posted by King9999

We won!

Posted by AllanIceman

SCOOPS!

Edited by YummyTreeSap

This move makes Microsoft look awfully weak, but ultimately it's probably for the best. I think some damage has already been done, but everyone probably has a short enough memory not to care for the long run.

That said, I'm curious as to how Sony will respond to this now that they're clearly in the driver's seat. Microsoft has been taking quite a few pages from Sony lately—first making XBL Gold more attractive by announcing monthly free games like you get with PS+, now hitting the eject button after Sony had every bit of momentum coming out of E3. Can almost guarantee a cheaper SKU announced shortly.

I dunno. It all increases my potential of picking up a XONE sometime in the future, but I still do think Microsoft looks really silly right now.

Edited by ddensel

Good for them and good for gamers. The $100 difference is a bit stiff, but can be overcome with good exclusives.

Posted by snattu

So, Microsoft got preorders in from the retailers. They were probably trending under even their manufacturing capacity, which is apparently very low due to poor yields.

Posted by Time_Lord

@boozak said:

Now all they have to do is release a cheaper bundle that doesnt require kinect and i'm sold. (I know i'm standing in the way of "innovation" but I dont care)

This as far as I am concerned the Kinect always has been and will be a gimmick give me something that is a true innovation like the Oculus Rift.

Posted by Max_Cherry

We made a difference!

Posted by divergence

well, I was never all that up in arms about their crazy DRM and related policies since I didn't see it affecting me all that much, but this is pretty good news particularly about the online requirement. I didn't think MS was ever going to pull a 180 on all this stuff. I kind of see it as building a framework for the future (the disc-less future) but hey, we aren't there yet so guess the consumer has spoken. The biggest downside for me is realizing that MS could be that out of touch with their customers. I think they are learning a tough lesson over all of this. So long as they learn- of course.

Posted by blacklab

close enough

Edited by ninjalegend

@commandergermanshepard:@jackcolt had made a few points that I do not think make sense. I'm trying to understand how one links DRM to the digital future.

1.(A dev can no longer assume an internet connection is available and with it the ability to offload compute cycles to the cloud.) Yes it can. Just because you have the choice to Play single player games offline with no DRM, what is to stop them? Put online required on the back of the box. The internet is not like some stupid add on like the connect or the move. NO DRM check in just let's developers make games for people who don't always have access. Most people have a way to connect to the internet, but the split only occurs if you exclude people like the PS3 not including a headset. Most people already have internet. Hell, developers already think that as they release games that are broken and need a patch to play right.

2.(There is no chance that you will be able to install a game now and be able to play it without the disc present.) I already do that. I bought Pacman DX and Street Fighter:third strike on my PS3 and leave it at my girlfreinds house. I have not connected that thing in months, but I play those games every so often. No crap DRM that makes me check in. Once you downloaded from your profile to your console, why do I have to check in? Why can't you do the same thing right now? How does crasy DRM make what I do now better?

3.(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.)This would be a good point if change was not going to happen, but you can not stop progress. If once you bought it from a secure site like Live or PSN and it authenticated, why do you need to check in? Why can disks still not go away for the most part. Let the single player AAA games come out on disk, or any other that a publisher thinks they should. For the gamestops or what have you, there will most likely be exclusive gamestop digital dlc, unfortunately. You can't stop progress, but you can make sure people don't take advantage of you just because they can.

Posted by m2cks

@m2cks said:

@jazzycola said:
@borklund said:

They're going to pull a 360 and walk away from the Xbox One DRM policies.

Pretty sure that would mean that they would still be walking towards their DRM policies.

thatsthejoke.jpg

Oh I know its an attempt at a joke. It's a joke that is about 8 years old from Gamespots console war floor.

Getting the joke != acting oblivious to said joke. Also thecakeisaliefalconpunchgiantenemycrabbamthereitis.

Posted by CommanderGermanShepard

@ninjalegend:

I'm trying to understand how one links DRM to the digital future.

DRM = Digital Rights Management...

1.(A dev can no longer assume an internet connection is available and with it the ability to offload compute cycles to the cloud.) Yes it can. Just because you have the choice to Play single player games offline with no DRM, what is to stop them? Put online required on the back of the box. The internet is not like some stupid add on like the connect or the move. NO DRM check in just let's developers make games for people who don't always have access. Most people have a way to connect to the internet, but the split only occurs if you exclude people like the PS3 not including a headset. Most people already have internet. Hell, developers already think that as they release games that are broken and need a patch to play right.

Which is good, let's them take the time to make sure a game isn't buggy instead of just assuming everyone has internet to patch it.

2.(There is no chance that you will be able to install a game now and be able to play it without the disc present.) I already do that. I bought Pacman DX and Street Fighter:third strike on my PS3 and leave it at my girlfreinds house. I have not connected that thing in months, but I play those games every so often. No crap DRM that makes me check in. Once you downloaded from your profile to your console, why do I have to check in? Why can't you do the same thing right now? How does crasy DRM make what I do now better?

Well ofcourse not, then you could just hire games from the store and install them. But you still have the advantage of day 1 digital releases next generation so you can download to your hard drive and never have to worry about a disc again and the offline players can still play their games as well, everyones happy. Would you rather have you disc be worthless after it has been redeemed to the console, or have to swap out discs and still have them have value?

3.(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.)This would be a good point if change was not going to happen, but you can not stop progress. If once you bought it from a secure site like Live or PSN and it authenticated, why do you need to check in? Why can disks still not go away for the most part. Let the single player AAA games come out on disk, or any other that a publisher thinks they should. For the gamestops or what have you, there will most likely be exclusive gamestop digital dlc, unfortunately. You can't stop progress, but you can make sure people don't take advantage of you just because they can.

What is a brick and mortar game shop in 2013 anyway? I'm pretty sure Xbox One will still let you play offline with games you have downloaded online to your console, I can do that with all my Games on Demand games like Dark Souls now, but if I move that content to another console than what I downloaded to I have to re-authenticate it again on the new console which is fair.

Edited by Clonedzero

A great move for Microsoft, though it's obvious damage control. Though they're going to take massive losses from just throwing away bulletpoint features of their new console.

I think i'll still get a PS4 over the XBO because they haven't flip-flopped and had the right message the whole time. Plus their exclusives look more interesting.

Really good job with this story Patrick. I totally said "Bullshit!" outloud as i saw the headline.

Posted by hollitz

I'm more excited that Scoops got to scoop once more from the GB offices than I am about the announcement, but this is pretty rad for xb1 pre-orderers.

Posted by The_Ruiner

Man...I really missed the console wars. Regardless of what you buy this shit is fun to watch.

Posted by Travan

SCOOPS SCOOPS SCOOPS SCOOPSSCOOPSSCOOPSSCOOPS

TRIIIICKYYYY SCOOOOOOOOOOPSSS

Posted by Paindamnation

I'll repeat what I said on another post here so it can be said.

Microsoft never "insulted" it's customers. It tried something new, and unlike all the comparisons to Steam when it launched, it didn't stick to it's guns. If Microsoft said the 24 hour check in is to combat piracy and help game manufacturers and it's only for online play", or better verbiage, not as many people would backlash. All Microsoft did was implement the cloud, which is coming, whether people like it or not, and try to push it. Essentially M+ pulled a Qwikster, the thing that nearly bankrupt Netflix because they wanted to push online, but Netflix had to pull out. Steam on the other hand spent years sticking to their policies and constantly changing and providing feedback, but never compromising on it's infrastructure that it set to create. Most companies will not put in that effort to get the huge reward. Which is why Steam is one of the most used gaming services around, and Sony forced Microsoft's hand. I'll get both consoles, just not at launch.

Edited by LegendaryChopChop

We're still about 5-10 years away from the concepts XBO was pushing. Internet connections is not reliable enough to determine your product stability on it on a 24-hour cycle.

That being said, I will still choose to go discless with my XBO, but I am definitely glad to see they pulled some of the stricter requirements to have a chance this generation.

Posted by AxleBro

I don't know if I hate DRM more than Pussy-Footed Back Peddling...

Edited by infinite_zero00

I'll repeat what I said on another post here so it can be said.

Microsoft never "insulted" it's customers. It tried something new, and unlike all the comparisons to Steam when it launched, it didn't stick to it's guns. If Microsoft said the 24 hour check in is to combat piracy and help game manufacturers and it's only for online play", or better verbiage, not as many people would backlash. All Microsoft did was implement the cloud, which is coming, whether people like it or not, and try to push it. Essentially M+ pulled a Qwikster, the thing that nearly bankrupt Netflix because they wanted to push online, but Netflix had to pull out. Steam on the other hand spent years sticking to their policies and constantly changing and providing feedback, but never compromising on it's infrastructure that it set to create. Most companies will not put in that effort to get the huge reward. Which is why Steam is one of the most used gaming services around, and Sony forced Microsoft's hand. I'll get both consoles, just not at launch.

We're still about 5-10 years away from the concepts XBO was pushing. Internet connections is not reliable enough to determine your product stability on it on a 24-hour cycle.

That being said, I will still choose to go discless with my XBO, but I am definitely glad to see they pulled some of the stricter requirements to have a chance this generation.

these two comments basically sum up my feelings on this whole issue. Thank You for being rational about this really dumb thing to get worked up about.

Edited by mernmern

I understand why people would prefer the PS4. What I don't quite understand is the idea that microsoft's failed attempt to change console gaming was and continues to be a personal affront to many people, especially after they caved to popular opinion. I expressed my opinion to MS via email and tweets and I am happy they removed the 24 hour check in. I could never condone a console that would block me from playing a single player game offline. I sense that many comments are an excuse to express dissatisfaction with the current xboxlive system, which for me, has been great. Heck, it would be interesting if they would allow people to opt into the system they envisioned. There were certainly some positives. Of course, they would have to allow you to opt in and out depending on your circumstances.

Posted by CaptainJudaism

I wonder if after everyone receives their shiny new X-Box 180's after this announce they release their first patch... and put all the DRM back in because then they'd have you money and you'd be SOL. Wouldn't put it past them to do something that underhanded.

Posted by graboids

this announcement makes me question my decision to switch to PS4... or at least makes it something that isn't decided yet...

Posted by l4wd0g

<Sarcasam> Yay! GameStop wins! Developers and creators can go fuck themselves. Yay! </Sarcasm>

Someone kill me.

Posted by TruthTellah

This confirms that Patrick has officially grown the beard as a man and as a journalist.

Edited by mauricehoward921

haha they bitched out.

And for everyone saying sony is finished slap your self.

Edited by mancopter
Posted by Krakn3Dfx

Man...I really missed the console wars. Regardless of what you buy this shit is fun to watch.

Agreed. It's always 100% better when E3 spills into the following week and beyond.

Now we just need Adam Boyes to shoot Drake with an arrow and a new an exciting drama will unfold.

Posted by GERALTITUDE

Yerp

Edited by Fram

@fram said:

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.

If the status quo needs to be maintained for a bit while these companies figure out how to have those benefits without heavily restricting my ability to play games I bought, then so be it. I, and a lot of people, play games years (sometimes decades) after they've been relevant. With the Xbox Ones former policies, once they would have inevitably shut their servers for Xbox One down, I would have a brick when I once had a console and a bunch of games stuck on it that I can never play again. Fuck that. If they need to roll forward more slowly with some of these things in order for me to keep the shit I payed for, fine.

I understand wanting to play purchased games without online check-ins and the like, and I'm glad MS are listening in that regard. However, saying that they'd inevitably brick your console under the previous policies isn't really fair. Also, since their system is obviously adaptable enough to make sweeping policy changes like they did today, who's to say the Xbox One we're playing in three years isn't exactly the console they advertised in the first place?

MS had a VISION for the Xbox One that engaged the always-on nature of the device in potentially intersting ways. Granted, they repeatedly knocked out their own teeth falling over themselves trying to describe that vision, but it was there, and now they have to fall back on that. I get no vision from Sony for the PS4 other than "it's exactly like the PS3" and "Gaikai for stuff maybe" aside from the share button.

Don't get me wrong, I'm really happy that online connectivity for single player games is no longer required for the Xbone. I love the fact that the console is now region free. But we're now looking at two "next gen" consoles that, minus a couple of bells and whistles, have feature parity with the seven-year-old boxes sitting under our TVs today, only with higher specs. That's not what I want from a new console generation.

Edited by DarKnightofCydonia

This is hilarious, but it still doesn't change things. All it does it show that Microsoft has no backbone. This is all about the money, not about caring for consumers. The insanely huge gap in pre-orders between the Xbone and PS4 is definitely what made them change their minds.

Posted by bybeach

That kind of bums me out for some reason. Of course, I was one of the people who wasn't really going to be effected by the old restrictions. But if the console will be 100% playable offline, that means that crazy cloud stuff won't be capable of doing anything crazy enough that it can't be done on a PS4, and that missed potential means that future games might not be everything they could have been... If that makes any sense...

I was curious about that aspect of it, whether it was primarily tech. noise, or that there were solid performance advantages to 'the Cloud'. Simple learning process to experience it, but now that MS has thrown everything in the toilet... Well to be fair they sounded like arrogant jerks with their vision of things. That doesn't mean all was bad or untenable though.

Edited by shinjin977

Seeing a lot of the reactions from facebook and social media. It seems the damage is already done and the kinect requirement is still a talking point for a lot of people (not to mention the price). I don't know what microsoft can do at this point to win back the hearts and mind of most hardcore but this is only a small step.

Posted by Lexus2jz

Hopefully this means the best of both worlds. That being those us who have always on internet still get the benefits of the cloud and those without can still play their single player games. I will be seriously disappointed if we lose all the cool stuff the cloud can do because people don't have internet.

Edited by EpsilonSE

@patrickklepek I cancelled my subscription a while ago because I thought: "Do I really need a Giant Bomb subscription? Nah." But now I see the error in my ways. After all that fantastic E3 coverage, the awesome podcasts, and the great relationship you guys have with developers, I remembered just how great this site is. Now I see that GB got the scoop on this massive Microsoft news before anyone else. I might not need the subscription, but I don't see why you shouldn't have my money anyway. I'm renewing my subscription tomorrow and buying myself a damn t-shirt!

Posted by DaneGod

I think even though this may not quite make amends for their original plans, it's still the right move in order to keep them competitive with Sony.

Although having said that I'm still getting a PS4 because the XBOX One's features are still TV and sports related and I am much more interested in the PS4's streaming technology.

Posted by MachoFantastico

While I'm happy they've seen some sense, this just sort of makes them look even more incompetent. This DRM strategy blew up in their face and I doubt it'll just be forgotten by Microsoft.

Still, you have to laugh. Nice Scoopin, Scoops.

Edited by Ghost_Cat

I think it's a little too late to recover their predicted (initial) user base. Microsoft were being chumps with their DRM polices, took tons of heat, and now bitching out their complex polices to say "You know what? We're going to talk all of it back." It's a good thing Microsoft made this move, but their image is now damaged by very poor judgement(s) and a weaken back-bone. That price difference is still going to be a thorn in their side.

Edited by _Zombie_

Even if they got rid of the Kinect requirement, I still wouldn't buy the console.

Posted by chibio

Okay, thanks I guess?
But I think that the damage has already been done, so I will still go with the PS4, even though the X-Box One has some exclusives, which are intriguing to me.