We’ve been hearing about it non stop since E3, and apparently the vocal minority that we call gamers (Hey, that’s us!) have been able to change the minds of Microsoft and completely change the issues of Always Online DRM, game trading and even Region Free games.
The Xbox one was looking to pave the way for the future of gaming and it’s inevitable path towards a completely digital platform, much like Steam. In order to do such things Developers, Publishers, and Console manufacturers need to work together to make sure that you are truly paying for your games. As you’ve probably seen, there have been hundreds of thousands of hacked consoles that can play burned games and guess what? Each of those is losing publishers and developers money. Even though some would argue that they would never buy the games in the first place, but that’s another argument.
So, Microsoft had decided to have a new form of DRM where it required a console to be connected to the internet at least once every 24 hours to make sure that you’re authorized to play the games that you have installed on your console. They had done this so they can allow your gamertag to hold the license to the game and wherever you go with your gamertag, whether it be your own console in your room, or if you visit a friend in Texas, your game library will be with you. This sounds like a great idea, but at the cost of having to always have your console connected to the internet was a huge turn off for a large majority of people. (Strangely that these people who were complaining all had the opportunity to do so with their internet connected devices… hmm) This is no doubt a huge disadvantage to those who live in places where they cannot get any high speed internet namely overseas, to the members of the armed forces who can be stationed in places like, the middle of the ocean in a submarine or even in the desert in the middle east. They also had an odd thing that said you can only let one friend borrow the game, ever and you’ve got to be friends with them on Xbox Live for 30 days and a whole bunch of other random things that seemed extremely dumb, although they do allow certain retailers (namely GameStop) to clear that so they can still corner the used game market. Microsoft and the Xbox team have released a statement basically saying that after a one-time system set-up with your new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. The once every 24 hour check in requirement is no more and you can use and play your games as you currently do with your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. This includes letting friends borrow your games, giving them away, selling them on Craigslist, Ebay, or any other place you see fit.
Since the days of the original Xbox and PlayStation 1, games have been region protected, so they can control where games are able to be played. You see this quite a bit if you enjoy Japanese games. There have been quite a few Japanese only releases and there’s really nothing you can do about it because the games and consoles are hard coded with region codes that say who and who cannot play them. This was also used in a more negative fashion to our boys down under in Australia. It’s often joked about how it can be cheaper to book a flight to America and buy things than it is to go to your local Australian equivalent store and purchase things. While videogames may not have that extreme price difference, it’s still more expensive. Australian games can cost DOUBLE, the equivalent of $120 American dollars to buy one game. After the announcement that the PlayStation 4 was going to be region free, that really made the PS4 viable in Australia and many other countries across the world, where the cost would normally be prohibitive. This also allows all those odd Japanese games (that i’ll never understand) to be played by those who really love them in the United States. Well Microsoft and Xbox followed suit and now all Xbox One games and consoles will be region free. (We pause to hear the screams of joy coming from the rest of the world)
Now the two issues left to tackle are Mandatory Kinect and the $499 price tag. Will those change? I seriously doubt it.