Xbox One : Creating A Problem For Consumers
The Xbox One announcement has been met with a tidal wave of skepticism and negativity across the Internet, with all the fuss about the status of used games on the new console stirring up resentment on Twitter and gaming forums.
Yet, there are a few major sites, perhaps more worried about angering Microsoft, that have defended the DRM restrictions of Xbox One, claiming that it is not really any different from restrictions imposed by services such as Steam, restrictions that PC and Mac users have got used to over a number of years.
They are missing the point. Aside from the fact that the Xbox One DRM restrictions are far, far more draconian than those on Steam, the simple fact of the matter is that Steam solved a problem for PC gamers when it was introduced, but Xbox One is creating problems for console consumers that just didn’t previously exist.
Looking through all the restrictions, there is little there that benefits the end-user, aside from the mild plus of not needing a disk in the drive after an install. It is all for the corporate gain of Microsoft.
This will be one of the few things you actually own during your Xbox One ‘ownership’ time. Does look great though.
Let’s go through some of the restrictions.
When you buy a game, you are actually purchasing a licence to play the game, not the game itself, which means the disk is just a delivery method and is ultimately worthless within itself, as you cannot lend it to a friend and only sell it to Microsoft ‘partner’ shops, and only then if the publisher of the game allows it, and we still have no idea of how the ‘fee’ for used games will really work. You can use your game on another console, but only if you are the logged-in ‘active’ user, and as you can’t be logged in to more than one console at a time, you can forget letting the kids use a game on their own machine. You can give your licence to a game to someone for free, but only if you have been friends with them on Xbox Live for 30 days, and again only if the publisher of the game allows it for that particular title.
Confused? Well, as you are reading this site, I have to assume you are a fairly experienced and savvy gamer, so just imagine how casual gamers who only buy the Xbox One for Kinect games, parents looking to buy their children a console, or even our old friend Dave the Gamer, who only buys FIFA and Call of Duty every year and trades them in for the next iteration, will understand the complicated ins and outs of what is essentially a strange contract they will be entering in with Microsoft.
I would think they will buy the console and only start to comprehend the problems when they either try to sell a game or even buy another console for the kids and try to use the games they think they already own on it, especially at the end of the console’s lifespan, when many games could be switched off by publishers dying, changing hands or just deciding to erase a game arbitrarily.
I can only imagine the poor souls in the front lines in shops like Game in the UK or Gamestop in the USA, having to deal with irate customers, told that the publisher of their Kinect party game won’t allow them to trade it in for the latest annual release.
No-one will ever truly own a copy of Forza 5, as the game will stop working the day the Xbox One is discontinued.
That’s without the need to check-in online once every 24 hours, or once an hour if you have logged into your account on another console, which will absolutely baffle the millions of users that have either an intermittent/bad connection, or those that choose to only switch on their Wi-Fi when they turn on their PC. If you don’t have ANY Internet, as 69% of people in the developing world and a staggering 23% of those in the developed world don’t have, then you are as far as I can tell, buying a pretty, expensive, brick.
All of these things, at the very least, will bring confusion and headaches for many, and at the very worst, see people move away from gaming on consoles. So, creating problems that only need to be there to help Microsoft control every aspect of the machine and its users, putting up ridiculous barriers between gamers and games that again, only benefit the corporate bottom line at Microsoft, and making the lives of shop assistants harder than ever.
Steam didn’t do any of this, so the comparison is weak and without merit, and I hope more sites and critics start to treat all of this with the contempt it deserves, no matter how many exclusive games are lined up for E3, as this could be the point in time that, in years to come, that we all look back on as the beginning of the end of the games industry, and the proper start of the interactive entertainment wing of the closed content delivery industry.
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Editor and founder of VoxelArcade and The Smartphone App Review. Favourite games: Uridium 2, Frontier: Elite II, Sensible World of Soccer, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Ocarina, Metroid Prime, Solar Quest, F-Zero GX, Monkey Island 2 and Tetris.