Remember way back at E3 (in other words, last week) when Sony 'won' the show by basically not changing anything in terms of DRM or game ownership with the PS4? Microsoft and the Xbox One had a PR nightmare on their hands as a vocal segment of the gamer population jumped onto Sony's ship.
Well it seems Microsoft got the message. In an update at Xbox.com Microsoft's Don Mattrick announced a pretty much complete reversal of their policies (hashtag: #xbox180).
Mattrick tells us:
"... we designed a system that could take full advantage of advances in technology in order to deliver a breakthrough in game play and entertainment. We imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing, and new ways to try and buy games. We believe in the benefits of a connected, digital future.
But that's what Microsoft wanted, not what consumers wanted. So he goes on to announce the following changes to Xbox One ownership. First, you'll still have to connect to the Internet for a one-time system set-up (basically this is a Day 1 patch to enable the offline mode), but after that you can play any disc based game without ever connecting again. Second, you can now trade-in, lend, or give away your disk based games in the same way you do today.
So that's what everyone wanted, right? Maybe not, but let's look at what is lost.
You're now going to be back to having to put the disc in the tray in order to play a game. Under the
previous system original plan for the Xbox One even if you bought a disc based game, once it installed you wouldn't need the disc. Downloaded titles can no longer be shared or resold (the original plan allowed them to be). The "10 Family Members can share your game library" and digital cloud library (so you can play your games on a friend's Xbox One) is also off the table.
Lots of gamers see this as a win, but some of my friends are sad to see Microsoft back away from their vision. Mostly it seems like they'll miss the ability to share and give-away digital games.
This also doesn't 'fix' the problem of the Xbox One being $100 more expensive and requiring a Kinect sensor that many gamers don't want. Some seem to think Microsoft might back away from that as well, cutting the price and making the Kinect an optional accessory, but I think that's just wishful thinking based on the DRM turn-around.
It does sound like digital copies of all games will still be available on launch day, so those of us who hate discs can still buy games from the comfort of our couch. We just will no longer be able to give them away when we're done.
I'm sure we're going to hear more about this situation in the days and weeks to come, but for now what do you think? Did Microsoft win you back? Or are you one of the silent few who actually liked the direction they were headed? Have you pre-ordered a PS4 and if so, does this news tempt you into canceling that pre-order in favor of an XBox One?
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.