Is DRM about to ruin our console experience?

Is DRM about to ruin our console experience?
Ryan is an editor at TechForge Media with over a decade of experience covering the latest technology and interviewing leading industry figures. He can often be sighted at tech conferences with a strong coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other. If it's geeky, he’s probably into it. Find him on Twitter: @Gadget_Ry

Thinking of my fondest gaming memories takes me on a trip down memory lane. I’d get the latest iteration of Need for Speed through the post, run upstairs and boost my (terrible) skills before cycling to a friend to play against him on his console.

This now could be a thing of the past thanks to DRM (digital rights management).


Lately there’s been a lot of talk about how the upcoming Xbox “One” will handle used/pre-owned games, whilst no executives want to give any real clarification. This in itself is a worry; clearly at least some thought is being placed into alternate methods to the current free system.

When the latest Xbox was unveiled at a conference last week, Microsoft announced that games would be linked to a gamer’s console (no more taking my copy down a friend’s then!) and for a used game to be playable on a second console, a fee will be charged.

It doesn’t stop at games either. A patent filing found for “Content distribution regulation by viewing users” could theoretically mean the Kinect would have to be plugged in at all times to detect the amount of viewers; if more than is allowed to watch is detected then a movie could be stopped.

‘Major Nelson’, the company’s infamous head of PR for Xbox, posted a tweet after the outcry saying: “We are months away from the launch of Xbox One & policy decisions are still being finalised. When they are, we will let you know.”

Already many game publishers will put an ‘Online Pass’ in game boxes for accessing the multiplayer portions, whilst anyone who receives the copy after you will have to pay to download the key.

Most likely, these very publishers are putting pressure on both Microsoft and Sony to prevent used games, which costs them money they don’t receive from brand-new sales.

Currently Sony is appearing like the “white knight” by taking a more neutral stance at this time, although publishers will surely support the console which offers DRM over the one who doesn’t, perhaps even offering favourable exclusives as well.

After hearing the news from Microsoft, Sony fans took to Twitter and got the #PS4NoDRM hashtag trending. The campaign prompted a response from several executives, including SCEA producer Nick Accordino who posted: “Humbled by the outpouring of passionate PlayStation fans and their willingness to talk to us directly.”

He continued by saying: “Please know that we hear you. <3” which may give some hope to fans.

Do you think the next generation consoles require DRM? Is it simply a necessary evil?

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