Xbox One DRM Is a Bid to Take on Steam, Says Xbox One Engineer

Microsoft’s Xbox One used game policies and online requirements are unpopular among many gamers, but one anonymous engineer claims it’s all in the name of making console gaming more like PC gaming.

As Neowin reports, an anonymous Microsoft Xbox One engineer recently took to Pastebin to explain the points that Microsoft is apparently incapable of communicating with gamers. According to the developer, Microsoft implemented the DRM that restricts used games and makes discs only good for installing games in an effort to make games cheaper in a Steam-like model.

Read: Microsoft Shows Off 13 Exclusive Xbox One Games

Xbox One

On the PC, Steam wraps every game in DRM that prevents gamers from trading in or lending their games. This means there’s no used game market for Steam games. As the anonymous engineer notes, this lets Steam hold its massive sales that dramatically cut the prices of games. On consoles publishers have no incentive to offer massive sales because of the perceived loss of profit from used games.

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According to the engineer, Microsoft is trying to move the industry to digital distribution to help bring prices down, but says it’s a “bumpy road.” The transition is difficult to make because retailers like GameStop, Amazon and Walmart are so “entrenched in the industry.” They’re where many console gamers buy their games, so Microsoft has to slowly transition those gamers to digital distribution at first.

The anonymous engineer also talks about Microsoft’s “infinite power of the cloud” initiative, SmartGlass and the new Kinect. The former he claims can handle anything that “doesn’t need per frame calculation and can handle 100ms delays,” which, if true, could more than make up the different between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 hardware capabilities.

It’s difficult to say if the engineer is who he (or she) claims, but the arguments certainly sound reasonable. As they mention, gamers hated Steam for its DRM when the service first launched, and now it’s the dominant platform for distributing PC games. It makes sense for Microsoft to push for that model, it just either can’t figure out how to communicate that or simply can’t say it for fear of pushing away retail partners.