A Response to Durango’s Potential Always Online DRM and “Deal With It”

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The following was written in response to the recent “deal with it” controversy and the rumors that Durango (the next Microsoft console) will require an always online internet connection in order to function.  It is also rumored that this restriction is designed as part of a strategy to remove used games.  I write this knowing full well that these are just rumors that may not come true.

As it stands right now despite having it for about three years my new Xbox 360S will lock me out of a large portion of my own digital content when not plugged into the internet because despite transferring the licenses I never wanted to deal with going through my THOUSANDS of pieces of content and clicking “download again” for hours and hours in the 360’s laggy interface.

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Local multiplayer is also almost always the only way that I play multiplayer, so I’m constantly taking my console or my flash drive with my profile and digital content over to other people’s houses. This is because I also am a huge supporter of XBLA and often play those games more than retail ones. Unfortunately I often don’t know whether we’ll be actually able to play until I get there because of how many annoying variables can end up ruining the evening when I dare do anything other than sit in my room at home with my own 360 and my own internet. I’ve lost track of the number of times where I’ve tried to set up Rock Band for a large group only to have certain songs not work for no explicitly given reason, causing all sorts of troubleshooting headache in what should be a fun evening.

I’ve tolerated these issues so far because what DRM we currently have mostly makes sense to me and I chalk a lot of the problems up to bad implementation. The fact that the license transfer is shit and requires many other steps is an oversight to me rather than overt anti-consumerism and I don’t think that the 30 minute download involved with retrieving my profile is out of spite. It’s just something that sucks.

That said, if always-on DRM starts affecting my games on purpose, especially discs that I bought at retail, fuck off. This goes into a lot of the same arguments that I’ve used in the past with the Online Pass because it deals with many of the same concepts.

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First of all, every time you add another barrier to your games you screw over a legitimate part of your audience. People like Jake who simply don’t connect to the internet because they don’t see value in it are screwed. Anyone with spotty internet is screwed. Anyone who goes on a trip and takes their console along is probably screwed. Additional complications are created when you bring your content to other people.

Second, used games are a huge deal for me. I use GameStop and RedBox all the time for video games. Prices have become absurd to the point that even when I have the money $60 feels wildly irresponsible. On top of that, used games also includes my favorite part of console gaming. “Hey, this game is pretty cool, check it out” ceases to be a simple case of handing a disc over. If they were to truly use always-on DRM to stomp on used games then I’m out. You’ve officially ruined console gaming by removing the thing that makes it not a PC. In this case a console will merely be a shitty PC with no capabilities that make it worth owning separately.

Finally, there’s the issue that we simply don’t benefit from this decision. Much like the Online Pass, always-on DRM is a decision that benefits the company and no one else. Something is being taken away from us and nothing is given in return. There simply isn’t some neat new functionality that is only made possible by the new restriction. It is a case where we are only being taken from. That’s pretty much the definition of anti-consumer activity. I’ll tolerate bullshit in the occasional game, but the whole console? Fuck that, I’ll jump on the PS4 in an instant. I’ve already been playing my PS3 a lot this year, and guess what? I’ve been playing it with other people’s borrowed games.

Online Passes are Absurd:

I’ve posted an additional video and writing of mine because they further expand on my feelings on heavily related concepts.


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