OPINION: Xbox One Eighty – what we’ve lost

It would take a brave pundit to argue that Microsoft’s now-scrapped DRM was healthy for the consumer.

Diminished rights, corporate ownership and limiting online requirements are not what the next-generation are supposed to be about.

But now that the world has been saved from Microsoft’s evil rights management policies the time has come to reflect on what we’ve lost. And that’s actually quite a bit.

Because of for all the negative aspects of the Xbox One as we knew, it actually brought with it some pretty cool features that gamers now risk losing out on:

Your sofa is amazing place. So why would you ever want to leave it? The plan for Xbox One was for games to install completely meaning that your entire collection would be instantly accessible without having to get up and swap the discs. Which, let’s face it, would have been great. Xbox One owners will now need the game disc in the drive when playing a title.

Xbox One was going to allow gamers to take their collection with them anywhere. Freed from the disc, gamers would have been able to access any game associated with their accounts from any Xbox One. Now gamers will need to take their discs with them when on the move.

Microsoft’s digital plan would have meant that sharing games with friends and family would have been easier and more expansive than ever before. Is handing a fragile disc around genuinely better? Either way, now only the person in possession of the disc can access the content. Although at least that can be anybody.

Microsoft never revealed quite how this was going to work (quite possibly because it was yet to figure it out) but certainly a Microsoft-owned digital trade hub would have expanded the digital market in ways we’ve not really seen before. Looks like we can kiss goodbye to all of this now.

Whether or not publishers would have chosen to block pre-owned, they certainly looked to benefit from a cut of the pre-owned pie. Whether you consider that right or not comes down to personal opinion.

Now, I’m not going to argue that what happened last night was a bad thing. Microsoft revealed its new console. It was heavily criticised. Pre-orders crumbled. Microsoft responded.

That is a good thing, a healthy process. And everybody wins.

But it’s also worth remembering that sometimes it’s worth thinking twice before boarding the latest bandwagon. How many folk prepared to drop 429 on Xbox One REALLY have unreliable internet connections? Some, certainly. But surely very, very few. What we were seeing was an argument of principle rather than an argument of convenience. That doesn’t necessarily lessen its importance, of course (in fact no, it doesn’t at all) but you must surely at least concede that perspective was at times lost.

Gaming has to evolve in the same way that music has, that film has, that publishing has. Whether Microsoft’s proposed evolution was the correct one is up for debate. But this morning we face the reality of a console sector standing still while the world of smartphone and tablet gaming rapidly accelerates.

Is that really the victory we wanted?

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