Microsoft Reverses Controversial Xbox One DRM Policies

Does DRM have no place in the living room? Microsoft backtracks on the Xbox One's Internet connectivity requirements and used game restrictions.

After several days of weathering backlash from video gamers, Microsoft announced that it was rolling back its plans to institute the Xbox One's used game restrictions and daily "check in" requirement.

The Xbox One is set to go on sale in November for $499. This time around, the base offering will include the company's Kinect motion sensing controller and feature deep cloud connectivity, HD Skype integration, and voice-enabled TV and multimedia handling capabilities.

Since Microsoft presented the Xbox One on June 10 at a media event during the E3 video game conference in Los Angeles, controversy over the system's digital rights management (DRM) scheme threatened to overshadow its games, cloud integration and advanced, Kinect-powered voice and motion controls. To enforce the Xbox One's DRM program, Microsoft would have required that the console check with its servers at least once a day, drawing the ire of consumers with inconsistent or non-existent broadband access.

After years of being able to freely play and trade game discs—including on Microsoft’s own Xbox and Xbox 360 platforms—video game enthusiasts also balked at company's new policies regarding used game sales, rentals, and disc lending and trading. Only Microsoft-approved retailers would be able to sell used games, putting a crimp on the secondary games market and largely direct consumer-to-consumer transactions.

Needless to say, many gamers vented their displeasure on social media, blogs and popular Websites like Reddit. The industry, meanwhile, crowned Microsoft's archrival Sony and its PlayStation 4 (PS4) system as the winners of this year's E3, largely by virtue of the Japanese company's hands-off approach to used games and the console's $399 price tag. After E3, Sony PS4 preorders hovered at and around first place on's video game best sellers list, above Xbox One.

Microsoft got the message, according to Don Mattrick, president of the company's Interactive Entertainment division.

"Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One," he said in a company statement.

Mattrick said Microsoft had heeded the video gaming public's concerns. "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," he added.

Offline games will not require an offline connection, although it will be required for a one-time system setup procedure, informed Mattrick. "There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360."

Finally, Mattrick addressed the thorny issue of reselling, renting and lending disc-based games. "There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360," he stated.

Consumers, apparently, are willing to let bygones be bygones. As of this writing, preorders for the Xbox One have climbed to the top of Amazon's video game best sellers.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...