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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.

Xbox One Controller

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.

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.

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  1. I should say: I really hope Sony take note and don’t do all of this

  2. The ‘death’ of games has been coming for a while. With countless rehashes and next to no new innovative games coming out (those that are mostly come out on Nintendo consoles) Microsoft seems to have plunged that knife into the heart of gaming even deeper! 
    In the next generation of gaming I am going to the consoles which have the GAMES. I don’t care if it is the more powerful or what! I just have the feeling that Playstation 4 is also going to have many of these limitations as well.

  3. The clear difference with Steam, is that your games work on any new PC you buy, and they do not have an arbitrary off switch built into them. Plus I can use offline mode once they have been checked online on install.
    I think this is more pressure from publishers than a need of the manufacturer. I’m not really sure what benefit Microsoft sees from restricting the supply of cheap games, reducing the new games bought through trade-ins.
    The fact that Microsoft has said it WILL allow trade ins of its own studio produced games suggest this isn’t for them. I fully expect that a major publisher (probably Activision or EA) has said to both them and Sony, if you don’t let us do this we won’t release on your system.
    Sadly, both manufacturers caved instead of sticking together for the good of their customers and market.
    Is it any coincidence that just as these consoles are launching EA declares it is no longer bringing any of its major releases to WiiU, the one console without this DRM? I don’t believe so.

    • RobMortimerVA I fully expect Nintendo to go all out at E3. A few surprise announcements and they will deliver games to both casual and mainstream gamers. Microsoft will make the hole they dug up a couple of weeks ago even deeper whilst I think Playstation 4 will be in the middle.

      • Sam Hewitt RobMortimerVA Nintendo have far more of an opportunity than they really deserve with their WiiU strategy so far. I hope they use it.

        • RobMortimerVA Sam Hewitt If it doesn’t start to happen for them between this e3 and Xmas, expect a new Ninty console announcement at e3 2015, and the bringing back of the Gameboy brand. I mean seriously, one of THE top two game-related terms on the planet(along with PlayStation) and they do nothing with it.

        • Simon Burns RobMortimerVA Sam Hewitt Irony is. If Nintendo had waited, and not released an underpowered console, they would have seen the calamity going on right now…
          If Nintendo had stepped in now with a console with roughly the same power as the Onesie, and launch Mario and Sonic games, along with a promise of none of the DRM shite… a lot of people would be shelling out for it, and it would force publishers to accept they can boss people about.
          As we have it people will be left with no choice but to accept draconian anti-consumer bullshit in order to play games. We need something different, I may put something up on that soon…

  4. #fail

  5. Seriously: if they wanted to make discs basically redundant and make the console require and internet connection, why didn’t they just remove the optical drive and go download only? Same result, same control, saves them money and makes it more logical and arguably digestible.

    • Luke Martin VA I have seen loads of people moaning about Phoenix Wright being digital download only for the 3DS, due to not having a physical copy themselves. So maybe this is sort of the reason why they didn’t go down that road. 
      Although saying that, Microsoft seem to be getting everything wrong anyway…so one more mistake added to the rest wouldn’t name much difference.

    • Luke Martin VA The PSP Go. That was Sony testing the water, and it sank.

      • RobMortimerVA Luke Martin VA I knew it was gonna sink, cause I liked it. Any console/phone/system that tickles my fancy is dead in the water for sure. 🙂
        Seriously though, gorgeous little machine, but horribly, horribly overpriced online games. With the PSP sale now on in the PSN store, only now are the games fairly priced for it.

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