back to article Microsoft caves on Xbox One DRM and used-game controls

Faced with a growing tide of angry gamers, Microsoft has pulled a U-turn on its forthcoming Xbox One console's terms and conditions to allow game sharing and internet-free gaming. Don Mattrick, president of Microsoft's interactive entertainment business, announced the about face in a blog post, saying he'd appreciated the " …


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  1. jason 7

    Yep knew it would happen.

    I said we'd see some major U-turns.

    Though it might also have been the fact the new EULA for the Xbox One used up 800MB of ram to store.

    All good news I guess.

    Also Mattrick looked a major dick throughout this whole affair. I predict he'll be announcing his 'moving on' soon?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yep knew it would happen.

      I'm not sure they have. They've probably just pacified a very vocal minority. All they've said is that they wont put any restrictions on physical disks. The last 2 games I bothered to buy were downloads. I expect more and more games to be released as download only. Of course I'd only know this for sure, if say a few games companies released figures for physical sales V download sales. With the number of games retailers going bust in the past couple of years, I'd expect that download sales are becoming the more popular means of buying games. Of course, I could still sell my download game, I just have to sell the email address I registered it to, along with it

  2. armster

    Or are they hiding something?

    When I first heard about the draconian DRM measures I was wondering what they were thinking, but then I realized that nobody is talking about the ridiculous privacy issues around the new "I know who you are, and which friends you visited" Kinect any more. So maybe they just designed the EULA as a distraction from the privacy issues, intending to U-turn "we do listen..." all the way.

    1. JeevesMkII

      Re: Or are they hiding something?

      I think they'd be willing to walk some of that back too, but unlike the DRM issues it's not just a case of gutting vast swathes of code from the ROM.

      The whole XBox user interface now depends on Kinect to work. It's their answer to the question of how TV remotes are going to work in the future. Having to ditch Kinect would mean they'd have to slip their ship date by as much as a year while they go back to the drawing board.

    2. Kunari

      Re: Or are they hiding something?

      They could cut back a bit on the Orwellian aspects of the new Kinect, but it'll always be part of XBone.

      1. D@v3
        Big Brother

        Re: Or are they hiding something?

        my response to the Kinect issue is, just unplug the camera when your not using the console. Not that difficult, but not something you could do to get round the DRM.

        The idea that you have to have it plugged in while using the console sucks a bit, but not anywhere near as much as having a camera (and microphone) watching me all the time im in my living room.

        1. King Jack
          Big Brother

          " just unplug the camera when your not using the console"

          And after 6 months the connection jack will be knackered. The Console will just brick itself and you'll wish you never bought it.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Or are they hiding something?

          my response to the iPad issue is, just unplug the camera (and microphone) when your not using the tablet. Not that difficult, but not something you could do to get round the DRM.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Gamers Without Internet Can Stick With Xbox 360, Says Microsoft"

    This proves M$ are just bullies.... Scare them back and they just run away tail between legs....

    "Gamers Without Internet Can Stick With Xbox 360, Says Microsoft"

    “We have a product for people who aren't able to get some form of connectivity; it's called Xbox 360.”

    1. CmdrX3

      To which the majority replied...

      Yes, we know another one.............. It's called the PS4

      I don't doubt another u-turn will take place once they are firmly entrenched, although if they are thinking about long term future they won't make that mistake, but who knows.

      Now, all we need is a complete u-turn on TIFKAM and we are good to go.

      1. h3

        Re: To which the majority replied...

        The only difference between Sony and MS is Sony is quite happy to materially change things after a product is releases. MS at least up to now has not done that.

  4. Down not across

    Anyone actually surprised?

    Surely this U-turn doesn't come as a surprise to anyone. It would've been commercial suicide.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone actually surprised?

      Surprised at U-Turn?... No! Surprised at speed of U-Turn? ...Yes!!!! M$ is so greedy they clearly wanted the tastiest slice of the 2nd hand market, with its entirety under their absolute control... They also wanted $ from tracking users and their friends for advertising dollars. The new hardware was possibly even to be a new kind of Ad machine with the TV tie-on.... The 'AdBox1'....

    2. Kevin 6

      Re: Anyone actually surprised?

      Didn't stop windows 8 from shipping

  5. Eric Hood

    I am not unhappy with the prices, the previous generation was close to $1000 AU at launch with games and accessories. 18 months after the PS3 launch I spent over $900.

    The current prices are better than the past. I traded in a bunch of games and received $400 so that covered most of the PS 4 asking price. Games prices are cheaper now than previously too, I remember paying $120.00 AU for a SNES game.

    There may be some price discrimination but it is not as bad as in the past and we are getting the console at launch not 6-18 month later.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Untrustworthy Microsoft

    The switch can be flipped back on at any time. Read the terms that come with the console. Or get a PS4.

    1. Chris Beach

      Re: Untrustworthy Microsoft

      Yep a PS4 doesn't have any self-updating mechanism that would enable Sony to add the self-same DRM...oh wait...

      MS took the blow now, but the publishers will start demanding this again once the consoles are in peoples homes, and as they now know it can be done, they'll have Sony over a barrel if Sony refuses cause they honestly 'care about gamers'.

      Hell the entire entertainment industry would love to take a cut (that they think they're due) on 2nd hand sales.

      1. chr0m4t1c

        Re: Untrustworthy Microsoft

        Sony will almost certainly fight back for a while, they've already had a pretty hard lesson in bad PR over rootkits and PSN network hacks, so they won't want any more of the same over DRM if they can avoid it.

        All they have to do is hold out until M$ cave and game sales tank on their platform. After that they can say "told you so" to the content owners and claim the moral high ground again.

        Frankly, I'm surprised that M$ even thought their DRM restrictions were going to fly, they've been trying for 15-20 years and the consumer has repeatedly shown they won't have anything that's too restricting (unless I've missed massive sales of PlaysForSure devices somewhere). They're more or less ok with things that prevent casual copying, but as soon as you start telling them they can't sell it on or loan it to friends and family then it stays pretty firmly in the shops.

        I don't think either M$ or Sony will turn on DRM now, it'll completely kill sales of the console and games in under six months if they do, handing the win to the other side. The only time you could do it is once it's end of life and the new model is out - at which point it's just going to look petty and spiteful.

        1. h3

          Re: Untrustworthy Microsoft

          Neither of the 2 will be able to stop EA doing what it is definitely going to. They are just PC's so origin / uplay and all that stuff will be put in anyway. (MS's DRM probably at least worked properly compared to most of the rest of the stuff).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Untrustworthy Microsoft

        Sony however aren't at the mercy of 3rd party publishers. They have 10x the number of platform exclusives that Microsoft have.

  7. Randy Hudson

    Xbox One?

    Surely a name update for the console will be announced soon. "Xbox 180" sounds about right.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Xbox 180"

      So obvious, arrrrg!! That's the cleverest yet. I hope that sticks!

    2. Pypes

      Re: Xbox One?

      They let the engineering team name it.

      Because when you see the XBox One, you'll turn 1π radians and walk away.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    <3 Competition. Still not buying an Xboner, however.

    It is rather obvious that Microsoft's draconian ways would have remained unchanged if it wasn't for Sony.

    So while yes, I can give them some credit for having changed their policies. For now at least. I do have a problem with the underlying mentality (read: greed) of Microsoft which will no doubt remain unchanged.

    This is the power of competition, however. Fuckobe, oh sorry I meant Adobe, is unlikely to ever change their policies on Creative Cloud and their ludicrous subscription models, prices and activation requirements as all of their competitors have been gobbled up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: <3 Competition. Still not buying an Xboner, however.

      Oh right and lets not forget this little calamity as well:

    2. RAMChYLD

      Re: <3 Competition. Still not buying an Xboner, however.

      > is unlikely to ever change their policies on Creative Cloud and their ludicrous subscription models,

      > prices and activation requirements as all of their competitors have been gobbled up.

      Well, not all, but if you think about it, it's only competition for Flash (read: Java) is a memory hog, full of holes, hard to develop for (creating an animation would require tons of code) and is owned by an equally evil company, and for some reason The GIMP and Inkscape just isn't catching on despite being around for ages, just as capable, and, you know, completely free.

      1. That Awful Puppy

        Re: <3 Competition. Still not buying an Xboner, however.

        "The GIMP and Inkscape just isn't catching on despite being around for ages, just as capable"

        Go on, pull the other one.

      2. A J Stiles

        Re: <3 Competition. Still not buying an Xboner, however.

        GIMP and Inkscape are free and Free. But Photoshop can be had for free, even although it's not Free. Since more people care about their wallets than care about Software Freedom, and more people have heard of Photoshop, that is what most of them choose. Adobe (purposely) don't chase up small-time pirates, precisely because they'd rather you were using a pirate copy of their software than a paid-up copy of a competitor's software. After all, if you ever get a job where you need to use graphics editing software, the company will buy what you know (and they do chase businesses for piracy).

        Now, if someone were to argue that by not chasing up all copyright violations, however minor, they were invoking some sort of laches or promissory estoppel type of thing and risking losing the right to chase up major violations, then things could begin to get very interesting.

        1. Brenda McViking

          Re: <3 Competition. Still not buying an Xboner, however.

          And the subscription model will be their undoing for precisely this reason, unless they manage to bend the schools over backwards to pay for the education of the masses in their software. Worked very very very well for Microsoft. Arts budgets in my schools definitely would not have stretched that far, thankfully.

          But yeah - prevent your younger users from pirating your software, and a generation down the line, no one knows how to use your software. I'll give Adobe 8-10 years.

      3. h3

        Re: <3 Competition. Still not buying an Xboner, however.

        Silverlight works better than flash (At least for me when it is done right it works tons better). Dunno why MS dropped it. (Same with XNA). Even more strange is why they built Flash into Windows 8

    3. h3

      Re: <3 Competition. Still not buying an Xboner, however.

      Sony are the masters of proprietary everything they do is greed related.

      The reason is Sony (The home electronics part of it anyway) is doing awful so they cannot make this cost them tons over the short term.

      Microsoft can lose another 6 billion this generation and it not be a problem. (In fact if they wanted to destroy Sony they should have done. Put loads more hardware in).

      Their update bricks a PS3 and then they charge £80.

      (Microsoft gave away completely free brand new 360's when they were in a similar situation).

      What Microsoft should do is implement an xbox one personality for Windows 8 PC's above a certain spec.

  9. Robert Helpmann??

    If at first you don't succeed...

    We appreciate your passion, support and willingness to challenge the assumptions of digital licensing and connectivity.

    Translation: "We didn't expect the flood of pissed off gamers hitting every media outlet with negative publicity. We will try again with our next product release, but undercut our competition on price until we have a monopoly, then crank prices back up again. By then, someone else will have crammed the digital licensing requirements we wanted to implement down their customers' throats and no-one will think twice when we pull the same rabbit out of our hat."

    1. Shasta McNasty

      Re: If at first you don't succeed...

      Microsoft seem to operate a very interesting business practice.

      They believe that they are so big that consumers will still buy their products even if they create one that conflicts with the very things the consumers actually want and contain features so bad that it actually irritates people who haven't even bought it.

      Microsoft executives - I'm available for consultancy if you need someone to point out the things that are blindingly obvious.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Foot and mouth disease

    Honestly, did no one in the top staff of MS figure this was a major error?

    They must be either ego-struck or insulated from reality.

    Open mouth - Insert foot - Shoot foot seems to be standard at MS these days.

    Maybe they need fresh management before it all goes tits-up!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ding Ding Ding!

      We have a winner, folks! Of course, this close attachment to reality means you're also quite unlikely to ever achieve a high management position, as those are reserved for dolts (at least within Microsoft).

    2. h3

      Re: Foot and mouth disease

      I think Redhat is going to learn the same lesson if they don't seriously sort out RHEL7.

  11. Captain DaFt

    Well, halfway there

    Now if MS would just address the issue of the "always watching and listening" aspect of the beastly little box.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: Well, halfway there

      Ever considered just duct taping a piece of glass over the thing? The duct tape blocks the visual lens while the glass inhibits the IR part.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Well, halfway there

        Or... instead of buying something that I need to zip into a gimp suit when I want privacy, I could just spend my money elsewhere.

  12. Jolyon Smith

    One good U-Turn deserves another...

    Microsoft ran scared of losing sales in a catastrophically humiliating fashion when their XBone went up against PS4 at launch and were facing a DOA product. It really is no surprise that they would do a U-Turn in such circumstances.

    But they showed their hand.

    We know where they want to take gaming. So once they have sucked enough punters into the new XBone ecosystem, they will simply U-Turn again, with some spurious claims about "regretfully being forced to close loopholes that enabled piracy" etc etc. As far as I can tell, the U-Turn on game sharing and re-selling isn't even really a U-Turn. This "new policy" is all about gamers being free (as in speech) to share and re-sell. Nowhere do they appear to say that they guarantee - for any period, let alone in perpetuity - that it will be free (as in beer) to do so.

    You really would have to be some prize idiot to buy this as a sincere change of attitude.

    1. h3

      Re: One good U-Turn deserves another...

      And you think Sony are better ?

      They want to take gaming to the same place the only difference is they cannot afford to lose this time.

      1. Jolyon Smith

        Re: One good U-Turn deserves another...

        They may not be better in the long run but they certainly aren't as bad yet.

        Getting shot in the head is never nice, but given the choice between being shot in the head this Christmas or in a few Christmas' time, I think I know which I'd prefer. But if you have a hankering for an extra hole in the head sooner rather than later, that's your affair. ;)

  13. Diskcrash

    Crazy DRM

    The need to check via an internet connection every 24 hours to see if your game was valid basically meant that you didn't really own the game and if for some reason there was a disagreement with Microsoft or your ISP that game you paid $$$ to own becomes useless.

    There is no way in the world I would ever buy a game with this sort of restriction or the console it ran on. So good choice to remove this on Microsoft's part.

    1. Badvok

      Re: Crazy DRM

      You may think it is crazy but the many millions, if not billions, of people who have already locked themselves into such systems obviously don't (Apple, Amazon, Google, Steam, etc. all sell content in a similar manner). The key difference is that none of those existing markets (except Steam) tries to tie in the physical copy.

      So it was hardly surprising that Microsoft tried to do this, and still will do for non-physical content. Sony decided to take the physical copy piracy hit to win one over on Microsoft. In doing so they have forced Microsoft to also take the physical copy piracy hit. There is only one winner in this - the pirates.

      1. M Gale

        Re: Crazy DRM

        Oh, the pirates will be playing the games sans-restrictions regardless of what kind of bullshit and spyware you infect the paying customers with. Don't ever buy the piracy excuse, not even for an attosecond.

        1. Combustable Lemon

          Re: Crazy DRM

          "You may think it is crazy but the many millions, if not billions, of people who have already locked themselves into such systems obviously don't (Apple, Amazon, Google, Steam, etc. all sell content in a similar manner). The key difference is that none of those existing markets (except Steam) tries to tie in the physical copy."

          This is a point, how did we ever come to accept Steam? My Steam account has about 250 games on it, or so and i don't care that technically they could all vanish tomorrow. Steam does offer the ability to play offline but this won't prevent some games being classed as "unavailable" should you try to run them so how did this ever come to be? Is it purely down to the Valve never really being dicks about it in the first place so we've never much questioned it? They provide nice services and suchlikes (as in being able to hop into other peoples games easily and voice comms being included now, etc, etc) but then xbox has offered all of these abilities anyway. Maybe if the original xbox had started with the DRM and then added on features to compensate for it people wouldn't be so pissed?

          I have no ideawhy this is but you have to concede it is interesting how Steam appears acceptable. Not sure i'll buy either console, pc does just fine with me but i am tempted by the PS4...

          1. Charles 9

            Re: Crazy DRM

            "This is a point, how did we ever come to accept Steam? My Steam account has about 250 games on it, or so and i don't care that technically they could all vanish tomorrow."

            Might it have to do with the numerous SALES Valve holds on their library? Many of us got our games in bundles or at deep discount, so it's not like many of us plunked $60 or the equivalent per game. Plus Valve uses the system to hold sampling periods and other neat "try it first" concepts. And now, Valve has an increasing number of Free-to-Play games that don't require up-front investment (one of their flagship titles, Team Fortress 2, was converted to Free-to-Play two years ago).

            1. Combustable Lemon

              Re: Crazy DRM

              Yeah, i agree, that makes sense but anyone who remembers the start of Steam knows it didn't start that way. Is this to suggest that we are willing to part with rights for a price? By the same logic the only thing MS did was price it wrong, i suspect not many people agree that's the main issue here, so whilst that is part of the reason i really don't think it's all of it or that simple. hmmmm....

              1. Charles 9

                Re: Crazy DRM

                "Is this to suggest that we are willing to part with rights for a price?"

                Let's say the RIGHT price. If a game is cheap enough (say we got it for less than $15), would we care so much that we can't resell it? It's not like we put in so much for it in the first place.

  14. A J

    Yes, greed is what it is all about here. They see the number of pre-orders of PS4 vs. Xbone and they see money going to Sony so they change their tune, for now. Historically Microsoft have rarely listened to their customers, instead treating them as idiots and assuming they always know better.

    Microsoft will sneak all their DRM back in sometime after launch. I give them a year. Then they will say they were forced to do it by publishers.

    Notice they don't ever address the Kinect issue? Because they truly believe they know what you need in your living room more than you do. A spy device for their advertising buddies and a weak console/tv box is not what we want Microsoft!

  15. Winkypop Silver badge
    Big Brother

    'Sony money

    Looks like Sony has starred down Microsoft. Good news for gamers, but I think neither is all that trustworthy when it comes to DRM and spying.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'Sony money

      I just Sony a million times more than I trust Microsoft.

      Microsoft have a track record of screwing over everyone at any chance, Sony well some might argue the SonyBMG thing or OtherOS, however both of these are really massively over exegerated by Xbox fanboys.

      I have never been stung by Sony, all their hardware is high spec and works well. They clearly showed how not rushing out the PS3 like Microsoft did paid dividends in the end. PS3 have had a entire generation of a console that delivers true value and delivers not notch games even after 7 years.

      1. Andy

        Re: 'Sony money

        yeah because GT5 was top notch wasnt it ... delay after delay and it was still a load of crap compared to forza 3 which was released some 2 years prior

        1. Charles 9

          Re: 'Sony money

          Not to mention their exploits outside gaming? Remember the CD Rootkit fiacso?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 'Sony money

          Actually yes, GT5 is vastly superior, it has proper physics. Anyone old enough to drive a real care would know that Forza is just a lame arcade weather with fixed physics and weather.

          1. Charles 9

            Re: 'Sony money

            No, PROPER proper physics are strictly in the PC games like GTR. Neither console can properly simulate physics to such a degree, so BOTH have to simulate things here and there. Plus car manufacturers don't like street cars to show proper physics since it can sting them in the showroom (thus why GTR's mostly racing cars).

      2. h3

        Re: 'Sony money

        All I know is not doing the right thing is part of the Sony company ethos.

        (My Xperia Play manufacturing defect with the compass they won't fix it. Had other issues with Sony consumer electronics and they were always total a*ssholes about it.).

        Microsoft fixes stuff Sony wouldn't have even called the RROD a manufacturing defect.

        If something like a Microsoft keyboard breaks they just send you a new one don't even have to send the old one back.

        Microsoft has a track record of screwing people over once they become dominant in a market. They are ok until that point and they usually start screwing people over on the release of a new product which is consistent. Sony is not like that.

        If it is true they won't fix them bricking unmoddified consoles that were bricked by their latest update for free then that is totally within character for them.

        Sony are not really like the decent japanese companies like Panasonic never really have been.

  16. Zot

    Sony understood the slow public acceptance of downloading games

    They know that disk games will slow down so they were willing and knowingly let the natural decline of physical media. MS boardrooms appear to be short sited and reactionary. It was all obvious. I haven't understood MSs decisions for years now. It makes me wonder, if I was a share holder... .. .

  17. johnwerneken
    Thumb Up

    welcome development

    Typically products must fail totally in the marketplace before the geniuses of monitization and brand management even consider adjustments, especially with quasi-utilities like Microsoft. Maybe chalk it up to the more-than-PCs age...

  18. Anonymous Coward

    A welcome but potentially temporary respite

    I have a feeling that they will be back to the DRM trough before too long. This is probably a tactical retreat on MS' part, not a strategic change of direction.

  19. Best Before:

    Hahahaha M$ hahaha

    Hahahahahahahahahaha I find this u-turn funny as someone mentions above it was a huge disaster waiting to occur for M$

    I love my 360 but am definitely not going to purchase a ON$ as this whole u-turn stinks to high heaven, I'm also slightly suspicious of the "always on" feature (band-aid over the camera & taped up mic notwithstanding) so it looks like a turn to the dark side of a S$ny rootkit it is for me!

    1. h3

      Re: Hahahaha M$ hahaha

      It is the new way to do things uturn all the time. (I think they are copying governments around the world.)

  20. Snark

    One downside

    I know I am going to get massively downvoted for this but anyway :).

    Whilst this was appallingly handled. dreadfully drip-fed information to the community, and terribly high-handed, there is one shame about the U-turn. I actually liked the trade off of "you can't resell the game" with "you can share the game with upto ten people in your family, with one of them playing at anytime on their console (and your console always being able to play the game, whoever was on it).

    With the price of games nowadays I could see the attraction of buying a game once and actually being able to play it with my kid across Xbox live, rather than having to fork out twice. He'd also have enjoyed it with his friends, them getting to play the game with him one at a time and then if they liked it, go get it.

    Some good technical ideas, badly thought out in business execution, badly marketed. Sounds like MS at the moment.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One downside

      Sorry, but I honestly doubt that the removal of 'family sharing' had anything to do with allowing offline gaming. You see, they removed the feature for 'digital' games as well!

      Developer were most likely unhappy about this feature; the reason being, as you wrote "buying a game once and actually being able to play it with my kid across Xbox live, rather than having to fork out twice." (my emphasis). As you can see, the console developer might have been happy with sure a feature that would allow for more hardware units to be sold; software developer.... not so much. Which is why I believe that they removed this feature themselves and announced the removal while announcing a related feature... and let people link the removal of one feature being caused by the other feature!

      Sorry, but from the point of view of developers, "family sharing" is more worrying than "used games". Sharing a game with someone nearby is easy while using physical discs; but if they are far they will need to buy their own copy, a sale that they will lose if you could "share" a digital copy of the game.

      1. Snark

        Re: One downside

        This is Microsoft, you think they cared about what developers thought in the same way they cared about consumers thoughts?

        A whole chunk of functionality is changed, i.e. having to have a disk based game installed and the disk no longer used. It wouldn't surprise me if the whole "sharing games" on the cloud was tightly integrated in the fact that the console/cloud knew what games you had. Turn it off for one, turn it off for all. Yes it doesn't have to be coded like that but what are the odds that MS (in their we are right attitude) didn't decide it wasn't necessary to have it as a per game feature? It's much easier just to take out the whole subsystem than rewrite it. This stinks to me of that, which makes the "lend them the disk, the disk must be in the drive" at the core of this.

        It's still a shame though, and frankly I don't feel that sorry for the developers in this. It had a deliberate limitation, only one person could be sharing it at a time. I know with my kid and their friends as soon as some of them had played a good game a few times they would have been frustrated by not all being able to play together and would have nagged their parents for the game or saved up. With games at the prices they are you want to be damn sure you want to play the game before forking out, this would have been great advertising. I know my kid was excited by the prospect of if he got a game he could play with a friend and not wait until everyone was going to buy it, so would have wanted to buy more.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: One downside

          "This is Microsoft, you think they cared about what developers thought in the same way they cared about consumers thoughts?" Yes they do care about what the developers would think; otherwise they will be the only developers on the console. You seem to be concerned about this issue because it affect you in regards to your 'kid' so let us take another scenario.

          But first what is "family sharing": the "family sharing" is based on the "family list" which based on the "friend list". The "family list" is limited to 10 people only, while the "friend list" is open. Now Microsoft will NOT ask you to submit proof that the person you are adding to the "family list" is indeed a family member (they said that much in an interview, anyone can be added to the "family list"). Nor did you set a policy on how many "family lists" you can join.

          Now the scenario: you have a friend whom you play games with online; currently you buy your copy and your friend buy his/her's. But with "family sharing" allowing you to add anyone to your "family list" then both you and your friend could save a lot of money since only 1 of you need to buy the game and the other will get a free "downloadable copy" that you shared with him/her.

          You are right that people are influenced when they see a game being played instead of just watching online videos. But looking at it from the developer's point of view, they might lose up to half of their sells because of people who know each other and decide that 1 copy if more than enough between them. Worse still, in the case of single player games, the game could be shared among 10 people all of which will wait for the other person to finish playing!

          Regarding the implementation overhaul; I honestly doubt that this decision would have mattered. You see, what the original plan was: the "physical copy" will come with an "activation key" which would have added your physical copy to your "downloaded copies" list*. The change made by allowing "offline single player games" is that the physical copy will no longer come with an activation key and therefor won't be added to your downloadable game library. Your online downloadable purchases are not affected and will continue to be linked to your account. Hence my belief that they realized the abuse that "family sharing" could allow and decided to remove it; and left it to your mind to believe that the "offline gaming" is to blame.

          @King Jack: I should have known better... I know better; I honestly don't know why I typed 'digital'.

          * similar to what you get with PC games when you buy a physical copy.

        2. h3

          Re: One downside

          They care only about the big publishers. EA / Ubisoft etc and themselves.

          They should have just announced a price drop to £200 even with the restrictions they would end up dominant and Sony would have a problem.

      2. King Jack

        All games, Programs, Apps are digital

        Please will everyone stop using the term 'Digital Copy'. Everything is digital, the bits are identical to those on the disc. The term is 'downloaded copy'.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: All games, Programs, Apps are digital

          Last I checked, game discs are made of plastic with a bit of metal in them. The day we can project all-electronic virtual objects into reality and interact with them, complete with touch and so on, then I'll accept your terminology.

          1. M Gale

            Re: All games, Programs, Apps are digital

            Last I checked, game discs are made of plastic with a bit of metal in them.

            Last I checked, hard disks were a spinning substrate with a bit of metal on them.

  21. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

    "as long as the disc is in the tray"

    Hahahahahahahahahaha! Really? All this hot tech and it's still disc based?

    I suppose it could be cost effective but one would think that some research would have gone into producing ROM devices that don't involve spinning motors and pieces of aluminium with dents. Like flash drives perhaps.

    1. Charles 9
      Thumb Down

      Nope. Flash drive tech is still not mature enough. You can press a 50GB BD disc for about a buck each. A 64GB SDXC card CAN'T be mass-programmed (technological differences). Now multiply by several million copies.

      1. h3

        RE: Charles 9

        Of course it is they are just too cheap to do it.

        If they want to sell a £60 game they should put at least £20 into making it as decent as possible.

        Flash chips can be mass programmed how do you think phones are made. ($20 for 64GB if that).

        Wire them up to be read only after they are programmed.

        1. Charles 9

          Re: RE: Charles 9

          1) That's one reason the phones have sigh high price tags. Flash still not that cheap. A 64GB SDXC still runs about $60 for one of decent quality: standard or micro.

          2) $20 per (Flash) vs. $1 per (Optical Disc), multipled a million times over or so. BIG difference.

  22. mIRCat

    Let me stop you right th....

    "We appreciate your..."


  23. RAMChYLD

    Still one problem:

    Region locking. They should make that go away, too.

    1. Phoenix50

      Re: Still one problem:

      They did - Region locking is now gone.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still one problem:

      And the kinect Spying on you, using you as an advertising revenue and watching you watching content for per-person licencing.

      They then need to make the spec as good as the PS4 and the price too. And then, they might get some sales (only from people stupid enough to trust that Microsoft won't reverse this decision once you have paid up).

  24. eJ2095

    Windows 8 Start button

    Like De Ja Vue over again eh lol

  25. Zola

    It's all about "trust", and the damage is already done

    Now that we know Microsoft had plans to deny most of your rights to your own games, why would anyone trust them not to implement something restrictive in the future (ie. return to their original plan)?

    Sony could equally do the same, but so far they have shown no signs of taking that route, whereas Microsoft have, and the twats in Redmond actually, genuinely, seriously, believed that denying you your rights was a "good thing".

    Anyone that can think like that, cannot be trusted, EVER!

    1. Charles 9

      Re: It's all about "trust", and the damage is already done

      Sony's trust is stunted as well. Ask them about their NFC-on-a-disc patent. Also ask if we can resell DOWNLOADED games.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's all about "trust", and the damage is already done

        Also ask if we can resell DOWNLOADED games.

        Resell downloaded games? What are you trying to re-sell, the electrons you used to download it?

        There's nothing physical about downloaded games - that's why they should be cheaper in the first place - it's mostly understandable that you can't resell a download. If they're not, then you're a mug for buying the download.

        That's not to say that anyone offering a system that allows you to re-sell downloads could be successful and potentially disruptive, but I think by and large it's understandable that without anything PHYSICAL to re-sell, you can't re-sell a download.

        Besides, it's always been that way with downloads, whereas with physical disks you've always had the re-sell option, until Microsoft tried to stop that (and failed spectacularly).

  26. Tomato42


    Microsoft surly listens to customers, when you beat them over the head with the opinion of customers. There is no delicacy left in them. Even though the "soft" in the name could lead you to believe otherwise...

  27. Tom 7

    The future of gaming is not in consoles

    There will still be home consoles but for MP games the first to provide some form of useful participation on Android will win and win big.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The future of gaming is not in consoles

      I disagree, this is something that non-gamers say.

      a 69p mobile phone game is a world away from something like The Last of Us.,

      1. h3

        Re: The future of gaming is not in consoles

        But Super Hexagon is probably about as good as anything else released in modern times.

        The last of us just looks like a game half done properly although it looks still like the first level is done properly and the rest isn't up to the same standard.

  28. Eradicate all BB entrants

    To be honest .....

    ..... the majority of you would be bitching about the new Xbox even if this had never happened and MS gave them away free and included a 50" tv.

    1. Jonathan 29

      Re: To be honest .....

      You are probably right. If they did that I would I be deeply suspicious of why they were so desperate to get his box into my home. It is a bit like Google giving away their stuff for free to clean up on the advertising and personal data grab.

  29. technocrat

    Until a firmware update

    I dont trust them whatsoever, a simple firmware update can reverse this yet again, the fact they said they were doing this in the first place is enough to make anyone question their intentions. Don't buy it!

    1. h3

      Re: Until a firmware update

      Yeah but if Sony gets dominant they will do the the same thing in a firmware update.

      The best for the consumer would be if neither did very well at all until a big price drop.

      (Realistically for £400 it should be better than my midrange PC on launch. Especially with the games costing so much).

      What is needed is another console for people with some taste. (Who want some other games other than what Nintendo provides).

      Thinking back the best consoles don't seem to do that well.


      PC engine.


      Neo Geo



      PS2 era


      When Sony removed other OS they should have at least offered the blu ray updates in a version that could be used by people who made that choice.

      1. Charles 9

        Re: Until a firmware update

        Can YOU buy a "midrange" PC with eight cores and a higher-end GPU with 8GB of memory for £400? Last I checked, something of that spec would be considerably more expensive in a PC, and that's not counting the OS (which still matters at this time due to the dominance of Windows games).

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Xbox gone

    Already pre ordered a PS4.

    Microsoft have shown unforgivable arrogance towards gamers and shown their true agenda. There is no guarantee this decision won't be reverted in the future.

  31. CCCP

    Oh no... "of" replaces another word

    Not content with having more or less killed "have", as in "must have", "if" is now in the firing line:

    "One wonders of Australian buyers can..."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh no... "of" replaces another word

      If you glance down you will notice that "I" and "O" are adjacent on the keyboard.

  32. hokum

    These DRM "features" weren't ready

    There's a reason they were able to backtrack on this so quickly - it's because the family sharing and the cloud computation gaming servers weren't anything more than an idea on paper or an early prototype.

    They had to say something to make the DRM sound good after gamers went into fits of rage, and that's what they came up with. But if they were able to turn around and just decide not to use those features - particularly cloud computation which apparently was going to be an integral part of games - then they were never that close to being finished.

    Surely the family share could be implemented just for digital downloads? Unless it wasn't actually more than a they came up with in a damage control meeting.

    Maybe devs and pubs weren't happy with the idea either. E3 might have been the first time many of them heard about it.

  33. Shrimpling

    To be honest the second hand thing didn't bother me, only 1 of my current game collection is second hand.

    Are they still planning to do the family thing that allows you to share your games with up to 10 "family members" or has that been ditched now?

    1. Jonathan 29


      1. Shrimpling


  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    disks, how quaint

    The idea of placing a disk in a desktop or laptop computer each time I want to run an application is completely nuts and the same goes for a games console. Buying a £40 digital download which I can't give to a friend or family member, or sell, sounds totally nuts and anti-consumer too.

    Retaining the status quo for disks over the generation change makes sense yet still leaves the issue of how to move forward to a world where physical media are history. Although Microsoft failed to think through the original scheme, its still an issue to be addressed by Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft.

    1. h3

      Re: disks, how quaint

      There is no reason they couldn't go back to cartridge. (Other than publishers being too cheap).

      There is things you can do with fast rom you cannot do with hdd / blu ray / dvd. That could have been a major advantage over a pc of unknown specification.

      The ports from tatio arcade hardware will be junk again because of this. (They are basically a pc but with a top of the range nvidia and ssd).

      1. Charles 9

        Re: disks, how quaint

        There IS a reason: mass production costs. Mass-producing ROM chips or Flash media is STILL at least an order of magnitude more expensive than pressing a BD disc (which last I checked is down to around $1 each). Multiply that a million times over and you start to see the issue.

  35. ElectricFox
    Black Helicopters

    Steam Box

    I, for one, am waiting to see what Valve do with the Steam Box. I think it's a pretty good platform on the PC, though I rarely pay over £10 for a game. On the plus side, they'll probably have a lot of support for alternative games from indie developers rather than the overdone fps, racing and sport games. I've bought quite a few of these and have often gone over to friends' houses, logged into my account, download a 150 Mbyte game and have a good multiplayer session.

    If the PC Steam client is anything to go by, the Steam Box will be download only, no trading and the same sort of DRM on Steam. A lot of people (myself included) accept this on their PCs, so this is how it will likely break out into the console market.

    I expect Valve are watching the Xbox180 quite closely.

  36. Eguro

    Brilliant thinking

    I particularly loved this comment as a clear display of the giant fail that led to the Xbone debacle:

    "We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds.""

    Who would've thought that consumers would want the best available?

    The only question that remains is when they're going to try to implement this "best of both worlds"

  37. Parax

    even taking time to lampoon Redmond for its restrictive policies.

    Since its not linked in the article Here it is.

  38. g e

    "Faced with handing the entire console market to SONY"

    There. Fixed.

    Not that I'll be buying an XBOX Vista to replace my 360 anyway. Stuff 'em.

  39. Danny 5

    They must've been shitting pellets

    I'm pretty sure this was a panic move from Microsoft, they must've been REALLY scared to make an about face like this.

    Having said that, kudos to Microsoft for listening, swallowing their pride and actually admitting they fucked up big time. I'm going to wait it out for a while when it comes out though, as i'm not yet 100% convinced, but if this is how it's going to be, i'll gladly return to Xbox.

    It takes a big person to admit you made a bad choice, so they've regained some of my respect, but the proof of the pudding is still in the eating.

    1. Rimpel
      Thumb Down

      Re: They must've been shitting pellets

      They don't deserve any respect because they attempted to royally fist us in the first place.

      I shall be buying a ps4 now to help prove to ms how bad an idea this really was.

      1. Danny 5

        Re: They must've been shitting pellets

        Sony shafted their customers with the PS3, but they too have regained a lot of my respect, so i see no reason to treat Microsoft any different.

        Do i trust Microsoft? About as far as i can throw them, but being the bigger person and admitting your massive mistake is still a good move in my book. I don't really even fault companies for trying to shaft their customer, as that's par for the course in my book (at least, it feels like that nowadays), but when such a company makes an about face and actually says "we fucked up and we're realy worried about losing your support, so we're going to make things better", it's still a good thing.

    2. h3

      Re: They must've been shitting pellets

      They are using the tactics used by media lobbyists and they will succeed eventually anyway.

      (If EA says no Fifa for PS4 unless you give us what Microsoft does. Notice Sony has not denied that EA can do the same thing on their platform independantly and if that wasn't the case it would be a good marketing point.)

      The problem is most of the profits come from stuff like COD / Fifa people don't have any taste and they never have the console with the best games has never made the most money. (Maybe the SNES did but the Neo Geo was better but was £700 and £200 for the good games).

  40. i like crisps

    Dear Don Mattrick

    Can you, Don, the NSA and your Mossad designed spybox

    go FUCK OFF and DIE, come back to life and then FUCK OFF and DIE again?

    Looks as if the NSA's shiny new data centre is only going to be half filled

    with footage from Google's new Pedo-Cams. (sorry, Google Glass)

  41. Stephen 2

    Downloads cheaper than Disc

    What's the chances that they make downloadable versions of the games much cheaper than the disc versions in an attempt to still push people towards a non-sharing world.

    1. Danny 5

      Re: Downloads cheaper than Disc

      Which is how things work on the 360 now. I can buy normal games from the marketplace, that are more expensive in retail. I'm still amazed at how Microsoft could make this mistake. As it stands now on the 360, you can either buy a physical product, or buy it from the marketplace at a reduced price. When bought from the marketplace, you can't resell. So effectively, you're paying extra for your physical product, which in turn allows you to share/loan/resell your game.

      1. Shrimpling
        Thumb Down

        Re: Downloads cheaper than Disc

        I'm pretty sure you have this the wrong way round... Games are more expensive when you buy them on xbox live for some unknown reason.

        Some examples:

        Borderlands 2: £49.99 on Xbox live, £25.76 from Amazon UK.

        Modern Warfare 3: £49.99 on Xbox live, £14.99 from Amazon UK

        Even the Cheaper/older games:

        Just Cause 2: £14.99 on Xbox live, £11.48 on Amazon UK

  42. Mr Anonymous

    Price difference

    Expect over the next 12 months a widening price difference between trade-able disks and one user only downloads.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, yeah, whatever

    Those fuckers will creep all that stuff back in, they have revealed their intentions. Anyone buying into this gets everything they deserve.

    1. h3

      Re: Yeah, yeah, whatever

      Remember it is almost certainly EA that wants it and Sony has not given a straight answer when asked whether 3rd parties can do their own stupid stuff. (That is why EA dropped the Wii U support - Nintendo said no way at all). I think Orign / Uplay and all the sucky PC DRM's will be present on all these consoles with the associated problems and lacklustre quality control that the PC ports by the same people have always had.

      Microsoft doesn't really care all they really want is people to be used to Metro so start buying Windows 8.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just goes to show

    The real customers of the Xbox1 product are the likes of EA who pay commissions to Microsoft for every transaction. It's clearly just a platform that will be used to empty the pockets of the users via whatever excuse they can think of, it was clearly developed with this in mind. That ethos will not have changed, U-turn or not.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I Understand Why.. but am disappointed

    The DRM model IS still the only sustainable model for game development now and into the future, I hope that this U-Turn will have a greater backlash against the ignorant pundits and scores of sheep who go along with the "no-restrictions is better" jive, without any understanding whatsoever for the damage caused.

    Heres still hoping Microsoft bring back their restrictions after more people pipe up about why it was worth taking the risk.

    1. Danny 5

      Re: I Understand Why.. but am disappointed

      I've heard people say this a million times, but i am yet to hear a compelling argument in favor of DRM. So here's your chance, go ahead and give me a good argument in favor of DRM. I promise i will be open minded about it.

    2. h3

      Re: I Understand Why.. but am disappointed

      They could build the DRM into cartridges and make it very difficult to copy / dump them. Put something like an arm on the cartridge then do some small function of the game on that arm as well.

      Wouldn't be convenient to have a flash cart that can only fit one game on at once.

      I think both consoles will be hacked fairly quickly.

    3. M Gale

      Re: I Understand Why.. but am disappointed

      The DRM model IS still the only sustainable model for game development now and into the future

      I think you should tell that to Squad. They seem to be sustaining Kerbal Space Program sales quite nicely without any DRM whatsoever. Or perhaps Positech's Gratuitous Space Battles?

      Don't forget as well.

      1. Charles 9

        Re: I Understand Why.. but am disappointed

        Then what went wrong with World of Goo? They actually have the evidence of rampant piracy (IIRC they recorded 9x the number of IPs as actual purchases—IIRC not even dynamic IPs—the ones on DSL and cable modems wouldn't rotate that frequently—would produce THAT many IPs in the timeframe they used to measure).

        1. M Gale

          Re: I Understand Why.. but am disappointed

          Then what went wrong with World of Goo?

          A rate of unauthorised copying of around 80%. However, you neglect to include the creator's own opinion on the matter:

          “by the way, just in case it’s not 100% clear, we’re not angry about piracy, we still think that DRM is a waste of time and money, we don’t think that we’re losing sales due to piracy, and we have no intention of trying to fight it.”

          That's 2D Boy, telling you that you are wrong.The same 2D Boy that found that a DRM'd game in the same study had a 92% piracy rate, though not sure how they determined that.

          Now, consider how many games with odious DRM get cracked. Don't you think that the first thing to do once the DRM is cracked is to remove any and all phone-home ability?

          How many unauthorised copies of the latest DRM-encrusted Sim City are floating around? You know, that awful "you must be online all the time" shit that was broken within the first week? Foisted upon everyone except the people getting the game from the torrents? Do we even know?

  46. Metal Marv


    Microsoft Don't see the Games, they see Software. Which they like to lease....

  47. Dramoth

    Nice U-Turn

    Now U-Turn this...

    Wont be buying an X-Box One... probably wont be buying a PS4 either. Might consider buying a nVidia 780 or Titan and play the PC games :D

    Cheers Microsoft...

  48. Andy

    its not all good on the ps4 front...

    bearing in sony are bringing in charging for online gaming on the ps4 (funny how they have kept so tight lipped on this fact) and their u turns on things like using linux and backwards compatibility on the ps3 whats to stop them bringing in DRM and all ways online to the ps4 in a future update. knowing how much sony love drm i wouldnt put it past them to do it sooner than later

  49. Brian de Ford

    What they really meant...


    We just saw the news about Sony's PS4 . Unless we match their DRM terms our product is completely fucked. We only listen to user complaints when they can buy something far superior to our steaming pile of shit at the same price or cheaper.

  50. Anonymous Coward 15

    Anyone else suspicious that they were planning this all along for the publicity?

    1. Anonymous Coward 15

      Oh, and I just remembered this comic. It's not xkcd but it'll do.

  51. Charles 9

    I'm wondering if the tide turned when the subject made it to major broadcast TV (in this case, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon). It may not sound like much, but late night TV's popular for a reason, and this was on one of America's major networks. Which means Sony's ability to play passed-on games just got a HUGE FREE plug. At that point, Microsoft HAD to backpedal because the controversy was now known BEYOND the gaming community.

  52. KrisM

    the always watching kinect? or not?

    With the need for always on, or dialling home every 24 hours, removed, does this not also go some way to nullify (some?) of the perceived privacy issues around the kinect always being on and plugged in? With no internet connection, it can't spy on you, certainly not in real time, and I think it would be a bit noticeable if it stored voice/video and other data to transmit for a once a week/month/year/whenever connection to the web by the user?

    Whilst I can see a possible interest for advertisers to want to know this info (even if somewhat legally and morally dubious, and arguably still why), I have doubts even the NSA/spies/MS would want/care about all the drivel it might capture, assuming that's what actually will happen - and how long for someone to read the data stream coming out of the xbox when connected to prove or disprove this theory?

  53. BitDr

    Good spin...

    The entire strategy appeared to be one of phasing out physical media while, during transition, locking existing physical media to their servers.

    "You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc," Mattrick said.

    "The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world."

    Really? That is pretty good spin they put on the tsunami of negativity that came their way.

  54. annodomini2

    But, but, but...

    (Sorry if this has already been covered)

    No mention of the trading fees, i.e. are MS still trying to take a cut of you selling your game on?

  55. h3

    If it truly doesn't have a region lock I might get one. (Quite a few 360 games I would have wanted but they were all JP exclusives with the odd one US/JP).

    Microsoft does seem to be trying to make products for people who cannot think for themselves though.

    (If I could have got a cable card from Virgin Media - Windows Media Centre would have been absolutely perfect for me).

  56. sisk

    There's a MS division that actually listens to consumers??

    Hey Microsoft, I've found you a replacement for Balmer. His name is Mattrick. He still makes stupid decisions, but at least he pays attention when the consumers start picking up torches and pitchforks.

  57. This post has been deleted by its author

  58. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Weasel words

    ""We appreciate your passion, support and willingness to challenge the assumptions of digital licensing and connectivity," he said"

    When will Exec-types, PR people, and politicians realise that we are fed up of hearing weaselling words. Why can't they just admit: "Yes, we f**ked up" - I would hold them in higher regard then, and I'm sure I'm not alone...

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >implying it wasn't all a big, risky publicity stunt

    now their console looks more competitive and they have scored some "see, we do listen to the plebs!" points.

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