So, How Does Microsoft Solve the DRM Problem?


A customer buys a game with lets say 75 hours of gameplay for $60 from a Gamestop/Walmart/Best Buy/whatever. Installs it on his XBox One and then the consumer is robbed/sells the disc.

How does a large gaming company streamline authentication of ownership of millions of users across the globe?

Some solutions I've read are:

  1. Once a week authentication: If the gamer has a large circle of friends, he could "lend" the disc to a potential wide circle of friends, who will all have the game playing it simultaneously and completing it, because the disc is only needed once for install. After that, all play is from HDD. Sony's solution is to use a physical barrier. The disc is REQUIRED to play the game. however many people you lend it to, only one person is playing the game at any one time.
  2. Scrap the system entirely: Publishers might as well just set up shop for pirates/bootleggers next door. Only one disc is needed to print millions of illegal copies of a game.
  3. Play offline option similar to steam: This seems more viable. Problem is, it will still to be online at least once to authenticate and lock game to owner/system, but after that game can be played offline until the owner/system removes the offline mode. This scenario works for people who are moving/going camping/eating Thanksgiving dinner at grandma's.

To be honest, I feel that the gamers all complaining about DRM should also complain about the need to lock their doors in order to keep their property safe. Both Microsoft and the developers have a right to protect their intellectual property, simply because they need to make money.

Nilay Patel was on CNN earlier today and said that individuals should have the right to pass on digital content, a la passing on your great record collection to your children. Nobody is preventing anyone from transferring their mp3 player, e-reader, iDevice to whomever they like, or they can simply pass on the account details. But, they can't eat their cake and have it as well by keeping access to the content while gifting it to someone else.Finding a way to sell/loan individual digital content without losing your entire account is something that MS is trying to do, and it is a good thing. They may not have the perfect answer, but there is at least an attempt.

There are limits to what you can do with a book, or a CD. It's illegal to photocopy and distribute a book, to bootleg discs of any kind, and while you can copy either mediums and sell them, the process is long and tedious and not especially worth it for books. Discs on the other hand have things like region limitations, and even that has not prevented the flourishing of piracy.

I am somewhat disappointed that Neither The Verge or Polygon sat down to really analyse the situation, balance both sides of the argument and really buckle down to grapple with the ramifications for the gaming industry--now and in the future. Instead, it became a victory lap for the PS4, and it may end up hurting the industry in the long run ( or not).

There needs to be a real discussion, and I do hope someone steps up to have it.

And before anyone says it: Nope, don't work for Microsoft.