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My Thoughts on PS4/Xbox One/DRM

Well, I needed a break from massive amounts of cramming, so I thought I’d rant a little about what happened at E3, and how people reacted to it. This is really just a way of replying to many of the opinions I’ve seen on the internet over the past few days, and why I think they’re wrong. Let’s start with this:

“Sony’s awesome for not forcing DRM and for listening to their customers.”

You’re fooling yourself if you think that Sony’s original plan was to not use DRM. Seriously. After how bad the PS3 got hacked, I’m surprised they actually were willing to go no-DRM at all. I’m assuming that was in reaction to the negative response of the Xbox One.

“Well, Sony’s just better than Micro$oft anyways!”

Seriously! Are we talking about the same Sony? The same Sony that pushed for Blu-Ray discs to not work on more than one player? The same Sony that sued a homebrewer (not a pirate, not a PSN hacker) for gaining “unauthorized access” to hardware they bought? The same Sony that puts rootkits in their CDs just to make sure people don’t copy them? Sure, Microsoft has done some bad things, but Sony’s no saint. Ultimately, they’re both out there to make money, and they’ll do whatever it takes to do just that.

“It doesn’t matter what their reason was, no-DRM is better.”


“Xbox One did a 180, but I’m still not buying it.”

Fine…wait, what? If it doesn’t matter what Sony’s reason for going no-DRM was, then why should it matter what Microsoft’s reason was? Microsoft already said they’d remove the DRM, but that’s not good enough, the damage is done. Meanwhile, it’s obvious that Sony’s no-DRM announcement was in direct response to Microsoft, but somehow that’s different?

“We don’t know what Microsoft could do. They might add it back in later with an update!”

True, but not without some massive lawsuits. Meanwhile, let’s not presume what companies might do, but instead look at what companies have already done: Sony removed the PlayStation 2 emulation and OtherOS features from the PS3. There was a bait-and-switch lawsuit over that last one (I don’t know what the outcome was), but the point is that crippling updates is a Sony move. Seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if PS4 was the one that added always-on DRM with an update. Let’s see all you Sony fanboys cry then.

By the way, I don’t consider myself any kind of a fanboy; I look at all platforms equally and try to make a logical decision on which one I want. Sure, I use my past experiences to help, but they don’t totally define what I’m going to do. I was just as pissed at Microsoft when they announced their platform’s DRM as anybody else (and I was not planning on buying an Xbox One anytime soon), but now that it’s done and over with, I don’t hold it against them. As a company, they have to look for new ways to make money; that’s how they stay alive. Which brings me to another point:

“Xbox One’s greatest feature was it’s DRM. Now that that’s gone, it’s ruined.”

Maybe. But let me present you with a case study: say hello to…the Xbox one!

Oh, THAT Xbox one.

You can say that sharing games with people on your friends list, buying used games in downloadable form, and not having to use physical discs that you bought makes the DRM worth it, but years down the line, when the next console is well into it’s life, Microsoft can kill the switch on the Xbox One. Why not? They already did it with the original Xbox. If the original Xbox had the level of DRM that the Xbox One would’ve had, then I wouldn’t be able to host Halo 2 LAN parties (something that I did quite recently actually). In fact, I wouldn’t be able to use the console at all, because it would be unable to check-in to Microsoft.

So, is DRM worth not being able to play hundreds of dollars worth of games ten years down the road? I, for one, think not.


I'm a programmer. I also enjoy reverse-engineering and I'm focused on information security. Hobbies include but are not limited to video games, laser tag, hardware hacking, comics, and Futurama. I live in the internet.



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