The Xbox One: An Invasion of Privacy and Affront to Ownership?

There can be no doubt, given the overwhelming flood of a backlash, that Microsoft has totally screwed up with the DRM software for the Xbox One.  Having to be connected to the internet every 24 hours just to play ANY games is, for the most part, absurd.  But why it’s absurd has had a myriad of explanations thrown at it since we found out about it.

The one that’s stuck best for me is that we’re not talking about downloading games from an online service.  We’re talking about going to GameStop or Walmart, buying a PHYSICAL copy of a game, and not being able to play it unless we have internet access at least once every 24 hours.  Note the emphasis on PHYSICAL.  You are holding the game in your hand, all the data is there, every texture, every weapon, every cutscene, it’s all right there, in your hands on something you can microwave in dissatisfaction if you so choose.   So not being able to utilize that because you’re ISP is awful or non-existent is, in plain terms, stupid.

Of course in 10 years, that’s pretty much going to be the law of the land for consumer software.  Chances are if you don’t have internet in 10 years, you won’t be able to access ANY new software.  The problem is what Microsoft is doing, and this comes from a good friend of mine Nic Gigante, is digital distribution via a physical platform.  We both agree that what Microsoft should have done is go totally digital or not at all if this was the kind of DRM they want to use.  After all, Steam seems to be doing just fine with it’s users not being able to sell, trade, or return copies of their games.

But to make matters even worse, and to address the elephant in the room, your Kinect will always be recording everything you do in front of it and you can’t disconnect it, though you can turn if “off.”

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Again, the issue isn’t just that you’re giving up your privacy or rights to interact with digital content, it’s that Microsoft is applying digital ideas to a physical medium.  It’s a given that everything you do on Facebook is recorded by Facebook.  But Facebook is a social platform that was built for you to share information on and connect with your friends through.  The Xbox One is not Facebook.  I don’t come home after a day’s work looking to share everything I say and do with my game console and, by proxy, Microsoft/The NSA.  I just want to kill dragons in Skyrim.  And if my internet goes out, I can’t even do that.

So I leave you with this question, is what Microsoft is doing good for their customers?  Is having a database of user information like what the Kinect can offer a good way to improve the gaming experience for everyone, or is it just another invasion of privacy by a company looking to make as much money as possible from the people using their devices and services?  Personally, I think it’s the latter, but I’m just being realistic about the fact that that’s true of just about every capitalist company in the world.  Just because it’s true, though, doesn’t make it right.

Leave your thoughts below and let’s get talking about these issues.

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