It would seem that Microsoft has come to their senses. And despite how out of character it is for me to write a post praising them, I’m kind of going to anyway. About a week and a half ago, I wrote a post slamming Microsoft for the heavy-handed DRM destined for the Xbox One. And I usually don’t unpublish or delete things just because I no longer stand behind them, so I need to write a new one to clear things up. And hey, our criticism? It worked! MS listened, common sense prevailed, and the Xbox One won’t be sending us to 1984. My prior post may no longer be relevant, but it’s a piece of history. I’m proud to have been part of the engine that pressured MS to change course by getting my opinions out there. If negative feedback brought about that change, positive feedback will keep them on the right track. No matter how hard it is for me to write something positive about MS, they’ve earned it this time (and hey, I got egg on my face too when I had to write a positive post about Sony after making such a big deal over how they wronged geohot). Do note, I’m not suggesting that MS didn’t deserve our hate at the time of their prior announcements. They did. And I’d argue that they don’t really deserve our forgiveness. But if we try anyway, it’ll encourage them not to do stupid things like intrusive DRM anymore.
The future is disc-less and always connected. The Xbox One was built for that. Thanks ignorant gamers for keeping us stuck in the past
— Daniel Paulino (@kid_jenius) June 19, 2013
Tweet by a DRM-obsessed Orwellian control freak that encouraged me to write this post. Yep. I helped to keep us stuck in the past. The past in which we actually owned our games. You’re welcome.
Anyway, I didn’t really plan to write this blog post. But the internet confuses me. There was a (well-deserved) uproar when MS announced its draconian practices. But now that they’ve come to their senses, people are complaining again. “We wanted the future. Now we’re stuck in the present!” I don’t get it. I just really don’t get it. You still get your future. Games with larger maps, better graphics, etc. Isn’t better games the whole point? I know stupidity on the internet is no unusual phenomenon, but when the sheep all come out to praise DRM, something is wrong. You want MS requiring you to prove you’re not a “filthy pirate” every 24 hours? You want your games to be worthless paperweights when you’re done with them, as opposed to something you can trade in for new ones? You want to be bent over and violated anally by publishers charging you for a new game for $60, when you could buy the same thing used for half the price? Well okay then. If you’re a masochist, and you like MS talking dirty to you and spitting on you as they whip you, it’s not my place to tell you that you shouldn’t be into that. But you’re deluded if you think it’s in the best interests of the vast majority of people. Nothing good comes from giving up our concept of ownership to the publishers and MS. They can pry my ownership of my games from my cold, dead hands. I always buy my games used. I trade them in sometimes. I’m not rich. I like being sensible with money. If you somehow think you’re “superior” for buying your games new, and that the “future” involves all the “wretched poor people” being unable to afford games, you’re a horrible person. But apparently there is a (quite vocal) group out there who thinks Microsoft’s original plans for the “future” were a good thing. Screwing over those not as financially fortunate as the new game elitists, and members of the armed forces, who can’t always access the internet when deployed.
Back to that tweet I quoted further up. You still get your discless and always connected future. I believe the One will still allow you to install the game to the hard drive like the 360 did; you’ll just have to have the disc in the drive to play it. All the benefits of discless gaming without being inspected by the Thought Police once a day. And always connected? Yep. If you want your Xbox One to be always connected, it can be. There’s this little thing called choice. It’s good for us. I don’t want to be tethered to an internet connection if I don’t have to be. If you do want to be connected, you can be. And if you don’t, you don’t have to be. Everybody wins this way! Just accept that not everyone wants to do things your way, and having the option of not requiring an internet connection is good.
I believe the other complaint was that this removes the family-sharing feature. So what? Only one person can be playing the game at a time anyway with that. Meaning this “feature” didn’t enable anything you couldn’t do with a disc-based game. Nothing of value has been lost with the removal of this feature.
So should I buy the Xbox One?
If you came here looking for me to tell you that the Xbox One is a better buy than the PS4, you’re in the wrong place. I’m just saying that I don’t officially condemn the One anymore. Now that Microsoft isn’t trying to force us into their idealized future where everybody is forced to buy overpriced new games, and has to have a reliable internet connection to prove it, I’m saying it’s now worth giving a fair chance (also, there’s the fact that MS could’ve easily used the 24-hour check-ins to render every Xbox One useless the moment the Xbox Two came out).
As far as specs and value are concerned, the PS4 is still a better buy. Otherwise equal, it has a better graphics card. Oh, and it costs $100 less. And I don’t personally watch TV often, so the One’s PVR functionality doesn’t really do much for me. Although, as a person who likes to review things, I suppose I may just wind up buying both so that I can compare them properly.
Yes, MS has given us some freedom of choice. And no, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s a huge gain for a lot of people, and a loss for nobody except the game publishers. And nobody cares about them anyway.
I suppose people will try to find anything to complain about. And hey, this is MS we’re talking about here. I like to complain about MS, but if they realize this DRM is bad for everyone and decide to remove it, even I have to praise that as a good decision. Which I suppose is what puzzles me. As a self-proclaimed MS critic, I’d think others like me would even admit this is a good decision. The MS sheep just go with everything their favorite company does, so the complaints aren’t coming from that camp either. Ultimately, I guess it’s just the misinformed people who think they’re actually losing something here. And I’ll repeat for the last time that nobody is losing anything. It changes how a few things work, but everything the DRM “enabled” can still be done, just in different ways. And having to do them the way they’ve always been done is beyond worth it. We get back the concept of ownership. And that’s priceless.