Have you been following the story of Xbox LIVE, the latest-generation video game console from Microsoft? If you have any interest in media, content creation, and the new digital economy, you should be. Here’s why: it allegedly comes with some of the most onerous DRM I’ve ever heard of. This article from GigaOM explains some of the restrictions Microsoft has built in:
• It automatically makes a cloud copy of every game you play—allegedly for your convenience so you can play without the disk, but additionally because the ‘always on’ Xbox will phone home to Microsoft every day to verify that you own the game. I’m assuming that if they run into an ownership issue, they’ll shut you out of the content somehow.
• Loaning or renting a game will ‘not be possible at launch’ and might be an option later at the discretion of game publishers. This is absolutely ridiculous and is counter to the way most serious gamers play. My Beloved, for instance, does buy the occasional new retail game—but they are usually the seasonal sports ones. When 2014 rolls around, why shouldn’t he fund his purchase of NBA 2K14 in part by selling the now-completed 2013 version?
• Users will have a strict opt-in for features of the Kinect games that involve sharing your personal information. However, if they do choose not to opt in, certain features of the game may be locked to them.
So, why should Big Media care? Well, because all along, they’ve claimed that the biggest threat is piracy—look how hard Microsoft is trying to fight that via these restrictions! But do you know what an even better way to kill piracy is—even better than DRM? Make a system nobody wants. Then nobody will pirate anything. They won’t buy anything, mind you. But they sure won’t pirate it either!
As for my Beloved, he’s quite happy with the Xbox he has already, complete with the ability to play second-hand games. And our home Internet is spotty sometimes, so I’m not sure he’d enjoy a system that won’t let him play unless he’s got a live connection.
And as for me, I don’t care a fig about Xbox. But I hope that the book publishers are taking notes on this debacle and not getting any bright ideas about iPads that phone home to Apple and only allow you to read ‘authorized’ (by them) content. If that happens, I’m turning off the Wi-Fi on my Kobo Glo and sticking to the indie stuff.
Pssst, the new Xbox is called “Xbox One” , Xbox Live is an online service for players.
But yeah, it’s easy to get confused by microsofts naming conventions.