No Always-Online DRM Doesn’t Fix the Xbox One

At this point, I think everyone is shaking their heads in confusion and frustration.  One minute, Don Mattrick is telling people to buy Xbox 360’s, the next he’s saying the Xbox One needs to be improved and they’re changing key policies to make it better.

Frankly, whoever’s running the Xbox One ship at Microsoft is screwing up big time.  How do you screw up the launch of something people have been begging for since 2010?  How do you present something in such a complex way that news outlets like ours and others have to explain what you can and cannot do with the hardware you’re releasing?  Shouldn’t the Xbox One be exactly what we’ve been asking for and easy for everyone to use?  Isn’t that the core philosophy behind the idea of a console?

Well, if you’re Microsoft, apparently not so much.

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I will give Microsoft credit for sucking it up and changing their DRM strategy.  It’s the right move and it’s rare for a company as big as Microsoft to reverse their decisions like this.  So in that regard, Good Guy Microsoft.  However, the good doesn’t come without the bad.  In removing the always-online requirement for the Xbox One, Microsoft also removed the ability to share your game library with up to ten people.  This was a huge selling point of the Xbox One for me.  It was the one thing as a gamer that set it above the PS4 and made it a competitor to the PC market (just slightly, mind you).  Now that it’s gone, there goes the Xbox One’s competitive edge from a “this device can do this and others like it can’t” perspective.  Granted, buying a console should be a choice informed by both hardware features and games.  But the fact remains that Microsoft isn’t working with a unified strategy in mind.

What Microsoft desperately needs to do is stop talking about the Xbox One.  They need to gather their people and figure out what makes the Xbox One good and bad and what customers want out of it.  They need to stop having 10 different PR people saying 3 different things about every feature/restriction of the Xbox One.  And most importantly, they need to make a unified strategy that fixes all the issues people have been talking about for two months, and keeps the features that we like.

In short, this is what Microsoft needs to do to make the Xbox One something I’d even considering buying:
No always-online DRM, which they’ve done
The ability to share your game library
Make the Kinect the optional peripheral it is

Now, if the only way to enable game sharing is to have the always-online DRM for users that want to share/use shared games is the way to make it possible, I’m ok with that, provided it’s not required for anything else or at the very least disk-based games.

As far as the Kinect goes, I get that Microsoft is trying to make it a uniform thing that every developer can utilize for all their games, but the fact that it’s required and inflates the price of the Xbox One despite being non-essential is just unacceptable to me.

Regardless of what Microsoft does, they have a long road ahead of them before they can even begin to overcome the negative press they created for themselves over the past 2 months.

What do you think?  Is this reversal of policy, but removal of a key feature, make the Xbox One more or less attractive a product?

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