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UPDATE: Microsoft confirms stunning climbdown on Xbox One DRM and online check-ins

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Xbox One vs PS4

UPDATE: 21:55PM

Microsoft has announced that it has listened to user feedback and will not insist on online check-ins for the Xbox One and has assured gamers that they will be able to trade, lend and sell games at their digression without any DRM restrictions. He also confirmed Xbox One games will be region free!

Head of Xbox Don Mattrick has issued a post on the Xbox Wire blog confirming the changes to the company's policy following reports (see blow) late on Wednesday evening hinting that an announcement was forthcoming.

Here are the key excerpts from the blog post:

  • "An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games. After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
  • "Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360."

Beyond confirming the u-turn on used games and DRM, Mattrick also announced that the Xbox One will now be a region-free console just like the PS4. He added: "In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console - there will be no regional restrictions."

Our original story is below...

Microsoft could be about to announce the biggest climbdown in recent tech history by ditching the controversial online check-ins and game DRM plans that threaten to wreck the launch of the Xbox One console, reports claimed on Wednesday evening.

In what would be an absolutely shocking turn of events, home entertainment publication WhatHiFi claims the company is informing game developers of its decision first, with an official announcement coming later today.

The company has received an incredibly strong backlash from gamers over its insistence that the Xbox One must check in online at least once every 24 hours, along with giving developers the ability to restrict second hand game sales and trades.

Sony capitalised on the PR nightmare by announcing that it would place no such restrictions on the PS4's second hand market and insisting that gamers would never have to go online to play locally stored content.

Along with the PS4's lower price, the furore has dominated the discussion since the E3 expo last week; to the point where the games available for each console have become a secondary factor in some quarters.

Despite, arguably, offering a stronger line-up of launch titles, the Xbox One has been surrounded by negativity from gamers, retailers and the media at large. Many have claimed the issue has already become a deciding factor in the Xbox One vs PS4 next-gen battle.

It could be that Microsoft has decided to save face and redeem some goodwill with a shocking change of heart, if the report can be believed.

Usually this type of report could be dismissed as mere speculation, but in this case, the source is intriguing. WhatHiFi, a reputable publication to say the least, isn't really known for its gaming coverage or its reliance on rumour and speculation.

It seems the publication has definitely heard something and judging by its report we'll find out whether its information is reliable sooner rather than later.

There's been nothing out of the Microsoft camp to suggest it is willing to back down and we'd also expect the company to stick with its policy until the console is at least out of the gate. However, stranger things have happened.

While we won't be holding our breath, TrustedReviews will update this story should an announcement follow.

Nick Morrello

June 19, 2013, 8:41 pm

Giantbomb.com reported it first.

toboev

June 19, 2013, 10:02 pm

this?

http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/u...

Phil Jarvis

June 20, 2013, 7:12 am

Right then, better get an order in!
Pleased to see that Microsoft has listened

mothergoose85

June 20, 2013, 8:56 am

This is great news - I'm not surprised though. And I don't mean this in a petulant way either, allow me to explain.

I always suspected the Microsoft was testing the water and gauging the reaction (from the market and Sony) to see what the publics feelings towards this new infrastructure/ecosystem would be. Sure, they probably did develop the functionality but the cost of the development (and reneging on the functionality) would have been offset against any expected loss in profit. I am absolutely sure that this strategy (having a Plan B if you will) was always in the back of their minds if there was a hostile reaction to it.

And now Microsoft get to look good in the eyes of the public ("Microsoft has announced that it has listened to user feedback and will not insist on online check-ins for the Xbox One and has assured gamers that they will be able to trade, lend and sell games at their digression without any DRM restrictions. He also confirmed Xbox One games will be region free!") so it looks like they are doing right by the consumer. Of course what is really going on is they are "doing right" by the shareholders, in this case that translates in to giving users what they want in order to deliver the profits the shareholders want.

Either way, it is good news for gamers!

Hamish Campbell

June 20, 2013, 9:34 am

I don't know. I think it's far too big a risk to take on the negative publicity. They still end out with a negative in the goodwill account after this.

I'm a bit surprised they didn't try to agree on this stuff with sony beforehand, but perhaps cartel laws cover this type of thing. Otherwise, I think they would have hoped Sony would come on board.

I'm just not convinced they would think it's an OK situation to get to, just to test the waters.

Spike Black

June 20, 2013, 10:35 am

Well it's a start, now they just need to make the Kinect optional and allow any HDD to be fitted (with fresh VM's downloading from their servers). They're still on the backfoot regarding raw power though.

But I agree with Hamish on the way they've announced it, if they were testing the waters they'd have asked questions first about DRM through the Live rewards questionnaire not at E3.

My guess is that someone high up at MS thought it would be a good idea and no one spoke against it and stopped them - much like Windows 8.

mothergoose85

June 20, 2013, 10:38 am

I don't have a problem with Kinect being mandatory because I assume over the lifetime of the console it will become a integral feature and enrich the experience. It's probably what makes the £80 difference between that and the PS4.

mothergoose85

June 20, 2013, 10:42 am

I think you're overestimating the impact it will have (I'm happy to be proven wrong if it happens but until then I will stand by my theory) on the overall sales (and that's all that really matters at the end of the day).

As for collaborating with Sony - I'd be surprised if they did! Each company desperately wants to win this console war, they aren't going to work together to even the playing the field. They both need a USP and this is how they get it, trying to "one up" each other.

I'd love to see some figures but I reckon this announcement would lead to a significant increase in pre-orders for the One.

lovespuds

June 20, 2013, 12:52 pm

it's good news for gamers that should never have had to be in the first place. Microsoft were trying to do over thier customers out of pure greed and are now trying to sounds magnanmus claiming to "having listened to customers". No they are listening to the potential shock to thier pocket book because they reallised that in one foul swoop this could have lost them the console wars and all software revenues and hardware development cost, manufacturing preagreement losses not to mention would have hugely impacted those game developers with exclusive games for xbox and also the loss such a failure would have to the company name presence and reputation in homes. Thats a recipe for making a company a fossil dinosaur. Whats also funny about all this is that for possibly the first time it's history Sony is on the right side of the greed/demand equation maybe old dogs can learn new tricks here's hoping anyway (remeber betamax, mini disc, atrac and PC root kit DRM).

Pg

June 20, 2013, 12:58 pm

You sound like a Microsoft rep - "integral feature and enrich the experience". I prefer the choice.

I can't see how I'd prefer having to wave my arms around to navigate a menu rather than use minimal energy and press a button. And £80 is one to two games. Maybe not an important consideration for you, but it is for others.

And Microsoft come out of this looking bad. Only reason for the back down has to be pre-order figures. Money talks. It's not due to the out cry from the public. They didn't listen to us. They didn't care about it before now, even telling people the xbox 360 is the xbox for those without an internet connection.

mothergoose85

June 20, 2013, 1:11 pm

I can see how it came across that way but I can assure you I am not a rep. I am just hoping that, by making it mandatory, the Kinect 2 will give us some useful features. Don't forget, it isn't going to replace using buttons (not in this generation of console anyway), it just gives you options.

It a seriously impressive piece of kit and if it can bring something more useful to the gaming experience then that would be cool.

I'm thinking of some of the FPS games where you had squad commands like "covering fire" etc, if you could just say "Cover Me" and the squad did precisely that. That's a different dimension to gaming that we currently don't have and I feel like that wouldn't be a gimmick.

I also like the idea of being able to do something like "invite [friend] to this game" and not have to go in to the menus to do it. Not sure if that's on the cards at launch but I'd imagine it is coming.

mothergoose85

June 20, 2013, 1:19 pm

Look at it from a commercial point of view and it's a bit different - they were trying to open up additional revenue streams. Bear in mind that they don't make much profit from the consoles themselves.

I'm not saying it is right but at some point we have got to progress from the current model. Corporations rarely make new things with the intention of making the consumer/users happier - the do it to make more money and in some cases they will have identified that happier customers/satisfied users are likely to be repeat customers etc.

In the case of Microsoft, I think they've looked at Steam and gone "well, they don't have used games and it hasn't hurt them". The counter here is that the games are cheaper in the first place so it's not such a bitter pill to swallow and there are regular sales. This didn't sound like it was in store for the Xbox but now that everything is using a PC based architecture the game development costs should go down so hopefully the game prices will too (although this is down the game studios).

I'm not saying Microsoft did the right thing, but as I'm part of a software development team for a company that is really trying to open up new revenue streams as others dry up I empathise with Microsoft. I understand the realities they are facing

lovespuds

June 20, 2013, 8:34 pm

Hi Mothergoose, as a software developer I can hardly see you points as objective/ non biased I don't think I've ever heard a software developer ever not cry hard done by :o). You've mentioned microsoft don't make money of the hardware I'm sorry but thats thier business model they make no money off hardware they make money of the software pie slice the same as Sony. As far as opening up new revenue streams, I'm sorry thats the same rubbish governments use when they talk about bring in new taxes. If they want to make more money then sell things people want don't put your customers privates in a vice and expect them to still line up like sheep. I do understand software developers feeling protective of thier software and industry but introducing more restrictions and draconian controls is not the way forward as people just vote with thier wallet or you kill the golden goose.

mothergoose85

June 21, 2013, 9:51 am

I guess it is a different perspective - I'm a QA/Scrum Master so I look at things differently compared to devs.

I just don't understand why people were chewing out Microsoft for trying something different in this case. They were basically copying steam and the model works for them (because the games are cheaper to start with and usually come down in price). Microsoft didn't say they'd be doing anything like that so we don't know if they would have (they should have added some clarity around this).

We know they have the code so they could easily reimplement all these features down the line if they wished to (for instance, a game could be £40 at launch to buy phsycially but if you bought it via the Marketplace (and therefore didn't have the ability to sell it off as second hand) it could be £25) and run two models concurrently before eventually moving across to the other model entirely towards the end of a products lifecycle.

I don't really think what you've said regarding "developers feeling protective of their software and industry" has anything to do with what is going on here (I may have missed the point you were trying to make so I apologise if this is the case). All of this is commercial lead, the features that have been developed are done so to satisfy a business need (they will have KPI's they need to hit).

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