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Microsoft details Xbox One DRM

Microsoft details Xbox One DRM

Microsoft's Xbox One will include publisher-set restrictions on second-hand sales and even tighter controls on private sales of games.

Microsoft has responded to criticisms surrounding its vague statements on how the Xbox One will handle second-user games - and the news isn't all good.

Rumours began to spread well before Microsoft ever announced its console that the Xbox 720, as it was then known, would feature a draconian digital rights management (DRM) system designed to curtail the second-hand games market. It's something the gaming industry has been moving towards for years: console games are increasingly coming with single-use codes that unlock extra levels, multi-player access or pre-paid downloadable content required to get the full experience. PC gamers, meanwhile, are increasingly purchasing titles from digital distribution services like Steam where there is no way to sell second-hand titles at all.

Second-hand sales are a problem for the industry, it's true: every time a game is sold new the publisher and developer receive a cut, but a second-hand sale puts money nowhere but into the retailers' pockets. In this, it's analogous to piracy: people are playing the game, but the developer isn't being rewarded. This, however, is a byproduct of the first-sale doctrine, which states that once you've bought a product you're free to dispose of it as you wish by reselling, giving away or even destroying the item entirely - so long as you don't sneakily keep a copy.

Enter the Xbox One.
Unlike its predecessor the Xbox 360, the Xbox One is designed to allow gamers to install games to its internal hard drive and play them without needing to insert the disc in the drive. Without this simple physical DRM - no disc, no game - it's clear Microsoft had to come up with something else, but in doing so it appeared that the company was signing a death warrant for the second-hand games market.

Following numerous complaints, the company has broken its silence on the matter ahead of its more detailed Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) unveiling to clarify things. First, the company has stated, is that the second-hand games market will continue. Any game purchased on disc for the Xbox One can be traded in for cash or credit, and - contrary to earlier rumours - Microsoft will not be taking a cut of the proceeds. All that is required is for the user to uninstall the game from their console and remove the license link from their Xbox Live account - something the retailer will check has happened before accepting the trade-in. The retailer is then free to sell the game on, and the second buyer will be able to install and play the game without difficulty.

At least, that's the idea. Sadly, Microsoft has decided to leave this ability up to individual publishers - meaning that if EA, for example, decides it doesn't like second-hand sales, it can disable that feature and prevent any of its Xbox One games from being trading in, trampling all over the first-sale doctrine in the process. As to how a buyer will know whether the game he or she is in the process of purchasing will be valid for resale, that's an issue Microsoft hasn't addressed - but we'd hope there'd be an obvious logo on the case of restricted titles as a warning for those who don't like to build up a game library. It's also possible for publishers to charge retailers a fee if they do enable second-hand selling of a given title - with this fee completely up to the publisher to decide.

Another issue stemming from Microsoft's announcement is the hint that retailers looking to accept Xbox One trade-ins will need to be part of an official trade-in programme. While the company has claimed it won't be charging for membership, only approved retailers will be given access to the licensing system in order to check and revoke licences for titles traded in. Smaller, independent game stores - many of which are reliant on the second-hand trade - are likely to be excluded from this list.

What about private sales?
Microsoft has some seemingly good news on that front: users who want to sell or give away one of their games to a friend will be free to do so, simply by using a transfer wizard on the console itself. Sadly, this comes with its own set of restrictions: users can only transfer a title to someone who has been on their Xbox Live Friends List for 30 days or more - meaning sales of second-hand games on auction sites and forums are dead in the water - and the title can only be transferred once. In other words, if you sell your completed copy of Halo 12 to Little Timmy for £20, Timmy can't turn around and sell it to someone else once he's finished with it - that game is then tied to Timmy's account forever. As with second-hand sales, this is also a feature that needs to be explicitly enabled by a given publisher.

It's not all bad news, though. In an effort to introduce a little carrot to go with all that stick, Microsoft has announced that all games installed to an Xbox One console will be accessible from any other Xbox One console providing the user is signed in. Want to play games round a friend's house? No need to lug discs with you, just sign in and choose from any of the games installed on your own Xbox One - providing your friend has a fast enough internet connection to download the chosen games before it's time to go home, of course.

For families who game, there's even better news: up to ten Xbox Live accounts can be tied together as belonging to family members, and all installed games will be accessible to all family members regardless of location. It even seems possible for two or more family members to be playing the same game at the same time on different consoles - despite buying just one copy of the title.

The rental issue.
Microsoft has confirmed that, at launch, the Xbox One will have no way to support game loans or rental - a move that is likely to put a significant dent in the profits of game rental services like Lovefilm should the Xbox One take off - but claims to be 'exploring the possibilties with our partners.' The company has also released details for the Xbox One's network requirements, confirming that the console will need to check in with servers every 24 hours in order for even offline games to be played and ideally needs a broadband connection of 1.5Mb/s or higher. 'In areas where an Ethernet connection is not available,' the company adds, 'you can connect using mobile broadband,' seemingly ignorant of the capped connections and high per-megabyte charges levied by most mobile networks throughout the world.

While Microsoft has nailed its colours to the mast, Sony has yet to clarify its own stance on second-hand sales and related DRM technologies with more details expected to be released as part of the company's E3 unveiling.

26 Comments

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Snips 7th June 2013, 11:09 Quote
The second hand games side of things never bothered me, I've never bought a second hand game and my pc experience is mainly through Steam so I've never had the option to sell on.

They seem to have sorted the "Playing at Friends House" whine.

The big carrot is the "Family" share side of things. I've got two kids and they both have 360's and we've had to buy two copies of a game in the past. Now that's going to save me money, so well done Microsoft!
Tim S 7th June 2013, 11:16 Quote
They always say a picture is worth a thousand words...

http://forums.bit-tech.net/picture.php?albumid=18&pictureid=33453
rollo 7th June 2013, 11:21 Quote
Unless I'm mistaken if they both want to play bf4 online both would need to own the games snips it will save you cash on single player titles, they have sorted it by making them download huge amounts of data and sharing your Xbox live ID with them.

Take your average blue ray game size of 20gb / 8mb ( around 800kb/ sec download which is the avr uk download speed) is a little over 40hrs so you want to play at your m8s your planning 2 days in advance.

Since I never cared to begin with about either that or second hand its Irelivent to my purchase call.

But not everyone I know has unlimited Internet as they refuse to pay the extra for it.

The using mobile to sign in thing is funny as hell as unless your phone allows tethering ( not all do need a pretty modern phone with 3G contract of which in the middle of the Lake District will not work anyway) your screwed.

Second hand seems dead in the water for smaller retailers at least on Xbox side, even big retailers are going to be game dependent ( basically be Microsoft games only id imagine, EA rockstar square activisision will certainly not allow second sales)
thom804 7th June 2013, 11:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S
They always say a picture is worth a thousand words...

http://forums.bit-tech.net/picture.php?albumid=18&pictureid=33453

Yahtzee can have my babies. Wait, no he can't.

He can some cake instead.
Blademrk 7th June 2013, 11:42 Quote
Tying games to "Family" accounts seems like a fairly positive thing and does resolve one of the issues I had with the XBOne, but that once a day check is something I'm not quite willing to give into yet.

The thought of not being able to play any of my XBOne games because my net connection has quit on me is enough to give pause. I mean, I used to take my console (PS1/2) on holiday with me when I had a caravan in Aberystwyth, there'd be little point in doing that with an XBOne, no internet connection = no games.

I have never sold my games on (I'm a bit of a collector, I've still got all my games for every system I've had, going back to the ZX Spectrum), but I have bought games second hand that I've had trouble finding new (because they've been discontinued or whatever).

And I'd hate to think what happens if 10-20 years down the line I want to play any of those games after the authentication servers goes offline...
RichCreedy 7th June 2013, 11:43 Quote
Quote:
The using mobile to sign in thing is funny as hell as unless your phone allows tethering ( not all do need a pretty modern phone with 3G contract of which in the middle of the Lake District will not work anyway) your screwed.

I have a mifi contract on 3 that costs £18inc a month for 15GB data plan. so it is possible, although I wouldn't want to download a modern game over that connection
damien c 7th June 2013, 12:03 Quote
Second hand games don't bother me as I always buy brand new anyway, so that the disc isn't scratched to high hell.

It does seem though that Microsoft are pushing potential customers away from them to Sony atleast for now, until Sony detail what the DRM is going to be like on the PS4.
pickledliver 7th June 2013, 12:11 Quote
Something that's bothering me is that no publishers seem to have realised that it's possible to trade games in against NEW games. In this case, the retailer will actually be passing the value of the traded in game to the publisher/dev etc. By taking this away - has anyone considered the impact to the sales of new games? I bet there are a lot of people for example, who trade in last year's COD for the new one.
Corky42 7th June 2013, 12:41 Quote
Seems smart to me, Microsoft has passed the buck to the publishers...lol
After all it is the publishers who don't like the second hand market and now the publisher can get the bad PR that goes with preventing there customers from re selling there games.
Yslen 7th June 2013, 14:06 Quote
I'd never buy a second hand game anyway. Wait, I'd never buy a console either.

What am I doing on this thread?
WarrenJ 7th June 2013, 14:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
Seems smart to me, Microsoft has passed the buck to the publishers...lol
After all it is the publishers who don't like the second hand market and now the publisher can get the bad PR that goes with preventing their customers from re selling their games.

Sorry, it's a pet hate of mine.

I will not be buying a XBO come release. I think i will give it a few months to settle down and decide between the two further down the road.
Xir 7th June 2013, 14:22 Quote
That explains why the Lovefilm App mentions searching for games, while Lovefilm-Germany don't even rent games :D
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blademrk
I used to take my console (PS1/2) on holiday with me when I had a caravan in Aberystwyth, there'd be little point in doing that with an XBOne, no internet connection = no games.
It's exactly what I do with the WII...use it in the Caravan / at granny's house. No Internet Thx.
sandys 7th June 2013, 14:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snips
They seem to have sorted the "Playing at Friends House" whine.

The big carrot is the "Family" share side of things. I've got two kids and they both have 360's and we've had to buy two copies of a game in the past. Now that's going to save me money, so well done Microsoft!

I wonder how they will handle this as this is similar to how PS3 used to work but ended up with a lot of people game sharing so they cut the number of shares from 5 to 2, I always wondered if this was why publishers set prices so high on PSN as they were basically giving away free copies. If you can call 10 of your mates family, they will be loosing out as its no different to secondhand games issue for them.
Shirty 7th June 2013, 14:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yslen
I'd never buy a second hand game anyway. Wait, I'd never buy a console either.

What am I doing on this thread?

I started reading this thread and then stopped here.

Word.
[USRF]Obiwan 7th June 2013, 15:01 Quote
Whats next, you can only buy a new car?
isaac12345 7th June 2013, 16:27 Quote
Hmm.... Why dont the developers, publishers and retailers work together to come up with a system so that everyone gets fairly compensated without hassling the customer around? It just seems these people cant be bothered and want the customers to unnecesarrily deal with their rather silly systems.

And have Microsoft given a reason as to why Timmy is not allowed to re-sell his game? I am assuming Timmy is not buying it with Microsoft's money.
ModSquid 7th June 2013, 17:32 Quote
When will they take the music industry's lesson and pay attention to the fact that piracy hasn't been anywhere near the death knell the music companies said it would be? In the same vein, the second-hand games market is not going to kill off the primary one. People will just buy less games.

Time to vote with your wallets (to use a cliche).
Yslen 7th June 2013, 18:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [USRF]Obiwan
Whats next, you can only buy a new car?

Cars are not a good analogy. A used car is totally different to a new one. A used game is identical to a new one. If you sell a car you have no way of getting around until you buy another one, as people only tend to have one car. If you finish a game and sell it, that's really not a huge issue that you need to deal with.

Here's another analogy, which is eqaully flawed but I feel does come at the issue from the right direction. What would happen if you could pay for a cinema ticket, go see a movie, then sell the ticket to someone else? Obviously that wouldn't make any sense because you're paying to watch the film, not for the piece of paper that allows you through the door. It's the same with games though; you're not buying the disc, the data or whatever. You're paying for the experience you have playing it. Should that experience, once over, be saleable to another person? The developers and publishers would rather it wasn't, because they (quite rightly) would like to get some money for every person who experiences their game, just as movie makers get money for every person who goes to see a film in the cinema. DVD releases (etc) are a different kettle of fish; they have the box office sales to make them money first, whereas with games the boxed/digital media purchased for the home is the primary source of income for the people creating the content. Second hand trading is a much larger issue as a result.

The value of the item is also important. With a game there's a lot of money involved per copy, so each second hand sale has a large impact, and buying second hand saves someone more money, so they're more likely to do it. Books are regularly traded second hand, however they cost less; the price difference between a new book and a used one generally isn't very large, especially if you can get free postage on a new one etc. People will often just buy new because they prefer a clean copy and it's only a few pounds more. The book analogy isn't really right either, then.

So, I'd like to submit that there is no analogy that perfectly fits this situation. It's pretty much a new one that hasn't been dealt with before now. The rights of people to sell on things they've bought are all well and good, but at the end of the day the industry needs to do well or it'll shrink. I'm not saying it'll collapse, but if there isn't as much money in games, less people will want to work on making them.

Personally I think the role of publishers is a larger problem than. Taking huge cuts and sapping money out of the system with often pointless marketing, then leaning on devs to finish a game quickly doesn't lead to good games. The best games seem to come from devs who self-publish, or those with enough of a reputation that the publishers leave them in control. Perhaps alterations to the way games are made and sold would be a better way to keep the industry strong in the face of second hand game sales, rather than annoying a large number of customers.

Finally I'd like the point out that it's probably the fault of Game etc cashing in on the pre-owned market and making it a "thing" that is to blame for the complaints of publishers and devs. If trading wholesale like that could be stopped, but trading between individuals was allowed to continue, it would likely keep everyone happy. The only losers would be the stores that had been making money from facilitating second hand trading, which isn't a loss for the industry.

Anyway, I've realised why I'm still on this thread... I like typing on my keyboard ^^
RichCreedy 7th June 2013, 18:23 Quote
look at the once a day check another way, you buy your xboxone, some scrot breaks in and nicks it, you report it as stolen, tell the police, and Microsoft, machine is connected to internet, Microsoft knows it's stolen, traces it, and disables it.
fix-the-spade 7th June 2013, 23:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichCreedy
look at the once a day check another way, you buy your xboxone, some scrot breaks in and nicks it, you report it as stolen, tell the police, and Microsoft, machine is connected to internet, Microsoft knows it's stolen, traces it, and disables it.

If windows validations are anything to go buy.

A file on your Xbone's OS corrupts, Microsoft detects this, automated system decides your Xbone may have been hacked to operate unauthorised software, Microsoft remotely bricks your console, on querying why your console no longer works you are told 'you may have been a victim of counterfeiting, to get genuine please click here,'

The link will of course direct you to buy a new Xbone, the one you have being blocked from the system and all.
Gunsmith 8th June 2013, 01:43 Quote
Quote:
IF we fall and buy this massive cluster****, we ourselves will help them to shove this poor business model which won't respect us as the legitimate game owners down our throats.
Don't buy it!
it may hurt you (if you're a massive MS fanboy) for a generation but will eventually be good for you or buy it and suffer the consequences for far more than a generation.

I couldn't have put it better myself
Xir 8th June 2013, 09:29 Quote
The problem with accepting this new model lies deeper, look at the new office licensing model. You can still get around it, but before long we'll have a subscription based model. MS doesn't want to sell software, they want to rent it to you. This new model enables that for stand alone games as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yslen

So, I'd like to submit that there is no analogy that perfectly fits this situation. It's pretty much a new one that hasn't been dealt with before now.
Well, there are music CD's wich are pretty much exactly the same thing, you enjoy the experience, you sell the CD, and are not able to enjoy the experience any more.

I see where you're coming from though. If you consider games to be a "consume once" good your point is valid.

So you play every level of "Battlefield" once and then you're done, right? No, normally not.
For "Angry Birds" this is true however (at least I don't see myself returning to beat levels there).
Eggy 8th June 2013, 09:41 Quote
It's not even the DRM and online every 24 hours bit that worries me about this console. It's the silly focus on TV that has no use whatsoever for the most people. TV these days is utter shite. Focus on games please. And I don't mean dumping a billion dollars into timed exclusives. Such a a waste of money.
Corky42 8th June 2013, 10:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yslen
So, I'd like to submit that there is no analogy that perfectly fits this situation. It's pretty much a new one that hasn't been dealt with before now.

Books ?
s1n1s 8th June 2013, 18:36 Quote
I pretty only ever bought second hand games when I was on consoles how I did my gaming safe to say this is a big turn off. as to PC gaming through digital distribution the prices need to come down they charge way too much considering there no physical product so no manufacture cost, transport etc. in my opinion this will only increase piracy.
slothy89 9th June 2013, 05:23 Quote
Quote:
confirming that the console will need to check in with servers every 24 hours in order for even offline games to be played
This bit greatly annoys me. My little brother who is 9 has his own Xbox 360. Which is not connected to the internet for his safety. Stopping him from going online and his Kinect games from uploading photos of him playing those games that take pictures, etc etc.

Forcing the console to check in every 24 hours is total BS. Basically this means that young children who legally are not allowed to have "online" accounts are no longer able to play console games?

M$ is loosing the plot.

The Family account linking sounds good, but the virtually always online DRM is total BS

I for one will be letting M$ know how I feel by talking with my wallet. Me nor any of my family will be buying an Xbox One if this current model remains. Might only be a few hundred dollars lost for them. But if enough people stand up and resist it will add up quickly. If the PS4 is any better, Sony might see my money instead.
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