[Update: Microsoft confirmed that all forms of DRM for the Xbox One has been removed]
As some of you know, the Xbox One was revealed by Microsoft in an official capacity last Tuesday on May 21st at 1:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. The console was received, initially, with disappointment from the core gaming community over a lack of games showcased. However, many were willing to wait for E3 to see the exclusives.
What transpired shortly after the Xbox One reveal was something slightly nefarious regarding consumer ownership and privacy rights, and the community at large was made aware of several different policy practices that could be part of the next generation Xbox console. This article will simply lay out some of the issues you may or may not have been made fully aware of...not as a gamer, but as a consumer.
All of the following information will be detailed so that you can gauge for yourself how critical some of these practices are, as well as which ones you may or may not be willing to accept as part of a purchasing decision for Microsoft's upcoming console. Links will be provided in the sub-headings for further reading. Keep in mind that none of the policies below have been entirely finalized, according to Microsoft. The company is still gauging feedback based on your responses before ironing out the final details.
If you feel some of these issues are very serious either for privacy or consumer right concerns, be sure to contact Microsoft and let them know through their community manager, Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb.
Region locked content is a common practice for most consoles. But if this is an issue that may or may not be very important to you, it is something you should consider as a factor for buying the console. Microsoft kept it quite simple in stating that they must respect copyright and regulatory laws of all respective regions in which the Xbox One will be sold, and the pricing and taxes that come along with those regions. There are also certain app and streaming functionality restrictions that may apply for certain territories, limiting some regions from accessing television and digital media in that country.
Simply put, the Xbox One won't be region-free and content, either physical or digital, will not be interchangeable through differing regions. Some of these policies may change over time, but if you want to play a game, listen to music or watch content outside of your designated region you would have to install a mod-chip or similar device, which may or may not be possible for the Xbox One given some other system functions that may prevent this from being possible.
If you're considering the Xbox One for both new generation games and to be able to play your old Xbox 360 games that won't be happening right out of the gate. The Xbox One was designed from the ground up with an architecture in place that prevents it from playing Xbox 360 titles. This was made explicitly clear by Microsoft both in interviews and in a F.A.Q.
While digital, Cloud and physical media backwards compatibility is not available for the Xbox One, it is something to keep in mind if or when you feel like playing older Xbox 360 titles. While Xbox Live accounts and Gamertags are interchangeable between both the Xbox One and Xbox 360, the games you play from the Xbox Live Indie Games channel, the Xbox Live Arcade, Xbox Live Games On-Demand or purchased content from retailers will not be accessible in any way on the Xbox One. This policy could be up for change depending on the consumer feedback that Microsoft receives.
24 Hour Mandatory Check-In
In the same way that Microsoft confirmed a lack of backwards compatibility, the company also made it known that the Xbox One is not required to be always-online. Keep in mind, however, that there is a copyright and digital rights media fail-safe in place to prevent the duplication of media or the abuse of multiple account sign-ins by using a 24 hour mandatory check-in.
Xbox One consoles will be designated to master accounts. A master account also has the ability to have several other linking accounts under a single Xbox Live Gold subscription, so multiple users within a single household can use a single Xbox One console and share content without additional fees. Nevertheless, any Xbox Live account on the system will have to do a mandatory check-in to retain access to media content and services on the Xbox One. Take note that if an account is used on a different Xbox console...when the user returns home and turns on their own console the mandatory check-in will log-in the master account and log-out the account from any other Xbox One consoles, preventing a single account from being used simultaneously on multiple consoles.