Victory? Microsoft walks back Xbox One DRM, region-locks


No more 24-hour check, trading and resale safe

Wow. There's really no way to describe what just happened as anything other than a "game-changer" in the console war. Microsoft, in an update penned by Don Mattrick himself, has effectively walked back many of the policies that have made their new machine so contentious with gamers in the first place, including dropping the 24-hour online check-in, region-locking, and restrictions on game resale, lending, and renting.

In the statement Mattrick credits "fan feedback", but there's little doubt that Sony's refusal to follow suit with similar DRM policies on its PlayStation 4 (and its handily capitalizing on that fact) carried at least some weight in the decision. Nothing comes without a price, however, and some features look to be cut as a result of the about-face. More details and some analysis below.

What do you think? Has this reversal changed your decision to buy (or not buy) an Xbox One? Tell us in the comments!

While this change certainly alters the race significantly, I don't quite buy some claims that Microsoft had this pivot in the works "for some time" and were only trying to get "the complete story" out before announcing the alterations. There's simply no benefit to their simply waiting to announce the change when the vast majority of their intended audience had its eyes on E3, where even the mainstream media pays attention. Instead, it took a legendary drubbing in the press and public, plus whatever pressures were brought by Sony not toeing the line, to force their hand.

This is less happy news for the true believers in Microsoft's bold (if unpopular) vision of an all-digital, always-on future. From the looks of things features like the "family sharing" plan and the ability to "roam" one's library from console to console are probably getting the axe, as is the ability to play disc-based games without the disc. Whatever threats used games posed to game publishers and developers (perceived or real) will likely persist as they do today, with folks like Cliff Blezinski predicting dire consequences (ones I don't quite buy, for what it's worth).

That said, this is definitely a win for anyone who was driven away by the previous policy, which was a lot of people. Now it's much easier to evaluate the two platforms on their own merits, and by the games they'll offer. The withdrawal of region-locking makes the Xbox One a much more attractive choice to import and overseas gamers, as well.

Of course, this big one-eighty won't turn the Xbox One magically into the libertarian paradise some hope for. Games that use Microsoft's cloud processing gimmickry, as well as online-only games, will naturally require a player be connected. Many of the platform's most promoted titles, like Respawn's Titanfall and Bungie's Destiny, were heralded as online-only experiences.And doubtless both Microsoft and Sony have every incentive to try to keep you connected constantly, from the PS4's sharing features to the Xbox One's various cloud gimmicks.

But at least players now have the choice. Now players who choose to remain online all the time with their consoles will do so because they want to, and because they recognize the benefits they get for doing so, rather than because the machine wants to phone home to tell its masters (its true masters) that the people playing on it aren't criminals.

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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures



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    Filed under... #microsoft #technology #video games #xbox one



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