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Microsoft caves on Xbox One DRM and used-game controls

Consumer power might still mean something

Faced with a growing tide of angry gamers, Microsoft has pulled a U-turn on its forthcoming Xbox One console's terms and conditions to allow game sharing and internet-free gaming.

Don Mattrick, president of Microsoft's interactive entertainment business, announced the about face in a blog post, saying he'd appreciated the "candid" comments of gamers. Mattrick, who was filmed saying that if you didn’t want online gaming then you should just buy an Xbox 360, now says Redmond will "reshape the future of Xbox One."

"We appreciate your passion, support and willingness to challenge the assumptions of digital licensing and connectivity," he said.

"While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content. We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds."

As a result, Microsoft is dropping the requirement that the new console has to check in online every 24 hours for disc-based and downloaded games. Given that there's few broadband companies on the planet who will activate new internet connections within one day, not to mention Microsoft's military gaming contingent, who find internet access in military bases across the world something of a problem, this will be a welcome move.

Second, Redmond says there will be no limit on the rental, resale, or trading market for disc-based games. You won’t be able to trade downloaded games, but as long as the disc is in the tray then you're good to go.

The move comes barely a week after Microsoft announced the console, intended to be the one-stop-shop for TV and gaming in the living room. Hours later, Sony debuted the as-yet unseen PS4, undercutting Microsoft $100 on price, promising no DRM, and even taking time to lampoon Redmond for its restrictive policies.

"You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc," Mattrick said. "The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world."

It's a measure of how vociferous the gaming community can be, and how valuable it is, that Microsoft performed such a fast about-face. One wonders if Australian buyers can force a similar climb-down on the extortionate price they pay for their gaming hardware. ®

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