I’ve been finding myself getting increasingly annoyed over DRM with games. I apologise to anybody who follows me on Twitter for it, and I guess I should apologise to you as well for reading this as it’s more of the same.
Microsoft have announced that the Xbox one (I still actually prefer Xbone as a real product name) has what the world has decided is draconian DRM. It’s pretty nasty because it needs an internet connection every 24 hours or you are locked out of your games. It doesn’t take a lot of guesswork to figure out that I think this is a bloody stupid idea because I just went a long time without broadband at home, which was only fixed by getting a brand new phone number. Telecoms companies are useless, you can’t rely on them at all. During this time my PC games on Steam all locked out because of what I thought at the time was a draconian two week online check. 24 hours is totally insane.
I’m not annoyed with Microsoft though. From a business point of view I can respect why they are doing it. I can even give them credit for taking the next step and actually allowing the transfer of licenses for digital products. I’m pretty sure that’s a first for one of the big players, and something that the music and movie industry really needs to take notice of. Nobody is giving them credit for that of course because of the actual story being that 360 games didn’t have these restrictions and yet One games do.
This is where it gets tricky because if you say anything positive about the One you’re an Xbox fanboy, and if you say anything bad about it you’re obviously a massive fan of Sony. I suspect people think I’m one or the other, but since I only really mention things that annoy me about them on Twitter I’m usually moaning about something that I’m actually using the most at that time.
If I’m not annoyed at Microsoft then who am I annoyed with? Sony for not announcing what I really expect to be similar restrictions on the PS4 yet so that Microsoft can take all the flak? I really hope I’m proven wrong on that one, but Sony are right to be quiet if it’s true. If it wasn’t you would expect them to maybe mention it and get a load of free really good publicity though, wouldn’t you?
The people I’m actually annoyed with are the media who are saying that Microsoft are doing something really evil. Which they are, but that’s not the point. The point is that they weren’t shouting from the mountain tops over Steam having what is in most ways a much more restrictive DRM scheme with no transfers of ownership allowed and games being locked to a user and not available for everybody on the PC.
The always online thing is a battle we lost a long, long time ago but nobody cared about. I’m angry that the fight wasn’t made until now, when it’s far too late. All of a sudden games journalists have woken up to the fact that the world changed and they didn’t care about it until now. Steam has been the hero of gaming while doing all of this, and it just didn’t matter.
Most of all I’m angry with myself though. I’m not going to be buying my games primarily on Xbox next generation, I shall be rejecting one restrictive licensing system and going with another as I’ll be buying them on Steam. This is a decision I made before the One was announced and was caused by me actually getting my arse into gear and getting a new PC so it could run modern games, and by being a fan of better graphics, modding and mice making headshots easier. I’m angry that the DRM doesn’t matter to me, when it should. We lost the battle over DRM years ago, and it’s our fault for not complaining more at the time.