Microsoft Drops DRM - I'm Still Not Happy

NOTE: This is a blog, not a news article... and this is stream of conscience:

The backlash was so great against the draconian DRM schemes proposed by Microsoft for the Xbox One that they have completely changed their policies. According to, the Xbox One has changed DRM policies. Here is a brief overview of what has changed:

  • Will not require you to be "always on"
  • Will not check in every 24 hours
  • Will require one-time validation when you first setup your console
  • Downloaded games will work when offline
  • No region locking
  • Sharing and used games are fine

I have seen so much news regarding all of this today and it has been very positive. It has been all over FB and at the top or Reddit. I'm not going to be. I'm not a hater, I'm a realist. I mean, I clearly do not care much for consoles (personally), but I do feel they have a place (until PC's and portable computers take over the living room). 

Here's my problem. Microsoft seems to have no idea what they are doing at the moment. They are not listening to their users. They are making products based upon a future that they want to create. This future is similar to the one that might exist some day, but their future is not quite there. Look at Windows 8 for the desktop. They are acting like Steve Jobs yet they do not have the knack for interface that he did. They have required their desktop users to jump through hoops to do the same things that users could easily do on Windows 7. Steve Jobs was able to excel in this. The difference is that he was a user himself (and a creative genius/wacko). He created products based upon what he wanted. That's how he got away with ignoring the audience and the test groups. MS seems to be designing based upon corporate interests. They have enough money that this is kinda working, but it's bad news in the long term. It forgets the most important element: The customer. 

Most of their recent actions have been extremely anti-consumer. It's all about the fucking bottom line. We're not customers anymore. Other companies are customers and we are products that MS needs to abuse, extort, harvest, etc. And many of us are willing to pay for the privilege of being extorted. 

When the policies that made up the DRM scheme surrounding the Xbox one started surfacing I was not baffled. This behavior was totally predictable when you realize how they are operating. They did not change their tune because they want to take care of the customers. They changed their DRM scheme because the customers were generating so much negative press that to continue pushing the DRM would have caused serious, irreparable damage to the company. It took a massive backlash for them to realize this... because they never took the good of the customer into account when coming up with this nonsense. The audience should not be forced to freak out for MS to see that what they were doing was wrong on a very basic level. 

Before the Xbox One had been announced, MS patented the spying technology that will be used in the Kinect. This is one of the most anti-consumer patents I have ever seen. It clearly shows you that the customers are the product. Wendell and I sounded a warning on The Tek but many shrugged us off. Now, the Xbox One is on it's way and the Kinect is still part of the equation. I do understand that MS has promised that some of the worst features will be toned down, but it is still not in the best interest of the consumer. To catch you up on the Kinect, watch our Rant:30 on it:

First, you can not simply point it at a wall, cover it up, block the mic, or unplug it unless MS or the content publisher allow you to. They might, but the device shouldn't have the capability in the first place. Second, this is not the same as data harvesting that goes on with Steam. Steam does not watch you, weigh you, listen to you, or limit what you can do based upon the number of people present. It also does not audibly ask people to identify themselves when it doesn't recognize them.

With the Kinect, MS is building a massive database of all of us. This database is where the value is. Marketing types will pay top dollar for this information. It will also help MS target you with the most appropriate ads. 

This is beyond what is happening on FB. I do not argue that FB is good and this is not a contest. I think FB is a terrible company and we are stupid to use/trust them. We allow the abuse because we like the functionality. 

Ultimately, this is not just about MS. This is about a shift in the way media is delivered. It is about a shift in where companies assign value. Before the customers were most important. Now, customers are like cattle in a slaughter house. They would sell you so fast if you were worth more dead than alive. Thankfully, you are worth more alive.

I expect we will see many companies shift to DRM schemes similar to what MS is pioneering with Xbox One and I expect the DRM to gradually get worse. MS said that they have heard the cries. I am betting that they are going to gradually ease us into this DRM. By the generation after Xbox One, maybe, we won't cry so hard because we will be conditioned. 

It is rare to find companies that care about the public/their customers. Members often question me for being more positive about Google and Valve than I am about Apple and MS. Well, Google is a monster that could destroy the earth. However, they have created a world in which they are everywhere and they benefit from what benefits us. Their devices like Google Glass could be terrible for privacy and such, but at this point, the seem to understand that the individuals are important. Their business is extremely different and many others strive to be like them... I could write a book on that, so enough for now. 

Valve has Gabe. Gabe understands the people and he seems to look out for us. If Gabe were to leave I would be extremely worried. I am trusting Valve with a massive library of games. I am also trusting them with private information. Gabe has been benevolent and seems to have surrounded himself with good people. 

That's why I'm more positive about Valve and Google...

I could be wrong about all of this. MS could be looking out for us now... but I doubt it. I don't think they have had am epiphany moment. They are responding to all the anger and hate by changing the DRM scheme. They are doing this because the negative press was going to harm the bottom line. I don't think they are truly doing this because it is in the best interest of the customers. 

What we need to do now is exactly what we did. Freak out. Scream on reddit. Scream here on the forum. Tell them that we will go away... all of us, as customers. They will not have their beloved database to sell without us. Help them realize that it is better to do what is best for the audience. 

Ultimately, I still do not think the future looks good for privacy/DRM. We may create enough demand that benevolence becomes a profitable business plan... but greed... greed... greed. Sociopaths are blind and only function based upon greed. Doing what is best for us just doesn't make sense to some of these sociopaths at the top of these businesses. Even if it ads up on paper, it's going to be a tough fight. It may require legislation, but that is a grim prospect as well. The best option: ignore evil companies and take our business elsewhere. 

It's too late for XboxOne... My eyes are on playstation 4 now... what they are doing is just damage control and it is not about listening to the customers... Good article :)


Nice rant


THANK YOU!  Someone finnally put this into words that doesn't turn into a console war

Could not agree more, the damage control is insane. I still feel like they will slowly implement the DRM features after everyone buys the console. Oh well, it's pretty nice over here in the PC space.

I thoroughly enjoy your writing style, Logan. Well-written, and well-worded.

However, I agree with a majority of your points. I just can't make myself give any kind of shit about the Xbone, or the DRM stance Microsoft takes with the Xbone. I am about freedom, in every sense of the word, in every aspect of life, so console gaming in the concept is unappealing, that I just stick over in my corner, gaming on my PC.


pc for days

If PS4 had introduced DRM features, Xbone would not have shifted its stance. It's all in the "game" theory, worried about the competition, not about the customer.

Still don't think I'm going to buy an Xbone... Even though I like the controller's feel, I really want to play KH3 and FFXV... Sorry MS, Halo won't save you this time. :P

Reading well-written posts like this makes me feel bad about myself because I could never articulate my thoughts like this as well as you just did. I completely agree, although I still think MS has damaged themselves heavily through this week of utterly horrid PR. 

I think consoles are changing from gaming to smart tv/netflix boxes. I still love the design. I have no interest in sony's games nor nintendo's games. I want to play gears of war and halo, but Microsoft won't put them on PC.

Is there a new console that comes without the Kinect? I don't see a need for it anymore if the "always on" is turned off.

Logan is right about all this, it took a damn massive backlash just to get Microsoft's attention and make these changes.The ONLY reason I'd get an Xbox One at this point is Halo. Other than that, it can kiss my money goodbye, I'll be spending it on other things that I actually control like my PC.

MS needs to do more then this if they hope to compete with Sony. Drop the Knect and lower the price and you may stand a chance.
I am also conserned about the ease of wich they were able to turn off there DRM. If they can shut it off like that they could easly turn it on again.

The DRM was never the big problem for me in the first place( more like it was never a problem for me). It was the privacy. And that was the one thing they didn't fix.

Great article good sir glad I'm leaving console gaming and switching to a pc

It's good to see that people shouting loud enough about this compulsive DRM and making microsoft change their position (at this moment), but its just sad that the average comsumer still dosen't care (or dosent know) about how invasive kinect will be in their living rooms.

I could care less about the drm and thr big brother eye that must always be connected to watch you. I wouldn't buy an xbox unless it was made out of solid gold for 499 and then i'd just buy the stupid thing to melt it down. :D

Besides if you can play the xbone offline then how does the kinect send any data to m$?

First off, great article, Logan. Second, aside from MS playing big brother with this Kinect bullshit, let's take a look at the so called "exclusives" Xbone has to offer. Sure, everyone knows that the Xbox is known for Halo, but is it worth dropping 500 big ones for a system that watches your every move? I hope you answered no...Third, let's also remember that Xbox Live is NOT free. Don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure it's $60 a year to play online. So, in reality, you're spending well over $600 to buy the system, a game, and Xbox Live whereas you can spend $460 on a PS4 and one game excluding tax. After saying that, which do you honestly think is the better buy? (Oh yeah, the PS4 doesn't stalk you like the creepy guy down the street.)

So far the only think I like right now about the Xbone is the controller, it just looks beautiful, I might get one for my PC.

in the meantime I'll stick to my PC.