Digital rights management (DRM). No consumer likes it, if they know what it is. It’s whatever security companies employ in order to try to protect their products from piracy. This can be requiring online registration, product key codes, requiring an online connection in order to use the product, or even something as covert as a line of code that is needed for the product to run, and it can’t be copied by normal means.
DRM is constantly evolving as the digital age advances. Companies are always pointing at piracy to explain why sales aren’t hitting expectations, although there’s no empirical proof. Truth be told, not every person that pirates a song, movie, or game over the internet was going to buy it otherwise.
In the midst of this on going struggle, Microsoft is rumored to be proposing a new approach with its upcoming video game console, the XBox 720. Speaking to Kotaku, sources said that the 720 would be using a new kind of security to prevent used games from being playable on the upcoming console. While it’s unknown how this could be done, its affects on the consumers are clear. You’re all going to the 720 prison.
The X means “No used games”
While other companies have taken to requiring $10 online passes in order to access online mulitplayer content on used copies of games, Microsoft wants to ice the very concept all together. However they decide to do it, the system won’t allow a used game to be played on another system. This probably means there will be some kind of registration code that will bind to a console, or the XBox Live User account. Either way, there’s serious problems and restrictions to this kind of approach.
If this kind of system becomes a reality, Microsoft is going to do nothing but imprison its consumers, and do absolutely nothing to hinder piracy. Pirates are used to getting around these kinds of security measures. That is not the target here, however. The target is the lucrative used games market front-lined by Gamestop. This market generates billions a year, but sees not a single penny going to the game makers, except for the newly introduced online passes, provided the used game buyers purchase them.
So this new system will put a stop to that market, and maybe increase new game sales. Like piracy, however, not every used game buyer was going to buy the game new in the first place. Used prices are cheaper, and older games aren’t always carried on the shelves anymore, because they’re no longer printed.
The real victims here, however, are the millions of legitimate consumers that have always played it by the book. No longer will they be able to let their friends borrow games, or freely have a system in the man cave and the living room. Worse yet, if your console breaks and gets replaced, you’ve just been sent down the creek without a paddle. On the flip side, if the games are bound to accounts, what if you have siblings or roommates with their own accounts? Guess they’ll have to buy their own $60 copy to play the game that’s already in the room.
Why use a sniper when you can use a bomb? No, under the new 720 regime, there is no innocent.