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Microsoft DRM The Internet XBox (Games) Games

Microsoft Apologizes For Cavalier 'Always-Online' DRM Tweets 236

Posted by timothy
from the but-why-wouldn't-people-want-to-eat-cake? dept.
Adam Orth, creative director of Microsoft Studios, on Thursday tweeted that "doesn't get" objections to DRM schemes that require always-on internet connection to play console games. An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft on Friday released an official statement regarding the tweets: 'We apologize for the inappropriate comments made by an employee on Twitter yesterday. This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views do not reflect the customer centric approach we take to our products or how we would communicate directly with our loyal consumers. We are very sorry if this offended anyone, however we have not made any announcements about our product roadmap, and have no further comment on this matter.'" I can't help reading those tweets in the voice of Sterling Archer.
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Microsoft Apologizes For Cavalier 'Always-Online' DRM Tweets

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:43PM (#43375685)

    "...but we're still making it always-on anyway. Fuck you. Sorry."

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Fuck you. Sorry."

      except we're not

  • by DrEldarion (114072) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:45PM (#43375703)

    ... that they made absolutely no effort to refute the rumor. At this point, I think it's pretty safe to say that their only objection is to how the guy said what he did, but they still are going to proceed with it.

    • The objection is mostly THAT he said it, I'm pretty sure. I highly doubt it was supposed to be trumpeted out that the X720 will be relying heavily on "always on" DRM before people could get a chance to buy it unknowingly.

      • by yoshi_mon (172895)

        They are mad because they were not able to frame the always on DRM connection in PR terms. It is not a very winnable battle since that bullshit does not fool many people but that is the goal.

        Look at the PR statement from EA's CEO (I think it was the CEO, some high level EA exec.) in response to EA being named worst company again. They spouted the same PR line that their always on connection requirement for Simcity is not a form of DRM, period!

        Caught in so many lies and screw ups about that whole game they

        • So it's not a form of DRM, whatever. Repainting the turd doesn't make it smell any nicer, and renaming it certainly won't do the trick either. I don't care what EA wants to call it, I am not in the name calling business, I let PR find some lovely sounding name. Let's call the turd manure and promote its ability to increase harvest. But being no farmer, for me it's just waste that stinks.

          That's what you have to keep in mind if you point out the various "benefits" your great innovation has. Sim City has an "a

    • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Saturday April 06, 2013 @02:58AM (#43376977) Journal

      If you own MS shares and the launch a console with an "always on" requirement - SELL. Don't even wait for the end of the press conference.

      It's not the reaction of the slashdot market you need to worry about. Will we cry foul over such a requirement? Yes. Will we be less likely to buy the console as a result? Yes. Are we a drop in the ocean? No.

      Rather, it's the huge "hinterland" demographic, particularly outside the coastal US and Western Europe, that you should be concerned about. If you think that internet connections are as reliable and "always on" as the electricity supply in most of the world, then think again. Personally, I'm pretty lucky; I live in the suburbs of London and have a pretty meaty 120mbit downstream 12 mbit upstream connection with no monthly cap. But even here, reliability isn't perfect - in the 12 months since I moved into this place, I've had two serious broadband faults; that's actually better than the reliability of my old 6mbit downstream 0.5mbit upstream connection in my old place.

      Get outside of the major cities and, even in the US and Western Europe, broadband connections become a lot patchier. Moreover, people who don't fall quite so far towards the nerdy end of the spectrum as I do are more likely to be on cheaper broadband packages with restrictive monthly caps; an always on device which is doing anything more than pinging status back and forward could be a major inconvenience for them.

      Oh, and then you get some pretty developed parts of the world, particularly out around the Pacific Rim, where home broadband is still fairly limited (sometimes associated with ultra-high-density housing) and most net activity takes place in internet cafes.

      If MS announces an always-on console, you can take that as a declaration that it's not interested in competing in those markets.

      If the always-on connection is linked to restrictions on the use of used games, then you can take that as a declaration that it's not interested in competing in ANY markets.

      There's a lot to dislike about Sony's record. Seriously - a lot (do I even need to say this on slashdot?). But thanks to unbelievable levels of stupidity from both MS and Nintendo, the PS4 is heading to win the next round of the console wars by default, simply by following a low-key, low-risk approach (PC-like architecture, no always-on, no used-games-restrictions, no expensive tablet controller pushing developers into territory they don't want to bother with).

      • Are we a drop in the ocean? No.

        Um, that should be a yes? MS, Sony, Apple etc are all rich and successful despite how much we moan about their business practices in here. If Slashdot has taught me anything it is that a well thought out and reasoned argument carries zero weight when measuring the likely success of a product in the marketplace.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 06, 2013 @07:18AM (#43377785)

      Of course the new Xbox will require always on connection. Everyone who has any clue has known this for months.

      For Microsoft, it is primarily a box to sell subscription services - XBox Live Gold - and act as a platform for things like Netflix. That is where the money is. To be the living room box that does everything.

      While going for this goal, everyone at MS who know anything about games and what gamers want have already left. It started with the whole Kinect thing. Since then, Microsoft themselves have shipped ZERO Xbox 360 titles that were not either...

      - Sequels to existing huge franchises (their lip service for "core gamers", ie. they keep funding production of games series proven to sell. Halo, Forza etc.)
      - Kinect junk

      For the new Xbox I fully expect their presentation to be...

      - 25% about the hardware and how it is better than PS4 (spoiler; it won't be)
      - 25% about how kinect is the best thing since sliced bread and showing of new titles that leverage the improved sensor. All of them will be crap.
      - 25% about how the new UI seamlessly ties to Windows RT / Windows 8 / Windows phone (never mind that Xbox 720 won't have touch interface - but that doesn't matter, they'll make you use a crappy touch-optimized UI even with a controller)
      - 15% about how the new Xbox will happily be your living room box for video
      - 10% about some core games, most of which will be multiplatform ports. Oh, there will be new Halo because well, Xbox = Halo.

      Every gamer will go either for PS4 or PC.

      And for the record, I own Wii, Xbox 360, DS and PC. 360 had some good stuff early but the hardware was obsolete 2-3 years ago and all development of interesting games ceased around that time. I have never owned PS3. I still think PS4 will completely own this round because Sony seems to understand that it is all about games. games. games. If that works, they can then sell all kinds of other stuff, but if the core bit isn't done right, why bother.

  • by robbak (775424) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:48PM (#43375727) Homepage
    That explains why we are all being pushed onto a schizophrenic mess that nobody wants called Windows 8.
    • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @01:02AM (#43376599)

      Old joke: Why does MS put the customer at the center of their efforts?

      So they can fleece him from every possible direction.

  • by Nyder (754090) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:49PM (#43375731) Journal

    lol, that made me laugh. Customer Centric Approach. I think that means they didn't actually plan on telling anyone, you'd have to find it out for yourself when you buy the systems and the games. I'm sure on the back of the game box, in small letters, will say, "Requires an Always On Internet Connection".

  • Indy Games (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:55PM (#43375769)

    Coming soon to a console/computer near me.

  • Corp. Comm. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ebonum (830686) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:57PM (#43375779)

    So the Microsoft Studios Creative Director's views have no impact on what he does at work? He has nothing to do with Microsoft. Wow. Then why is he a director? These Microsoft Corp. Comm. people are more disconnected from reality than I expected.

    By the way, the new Windows 360 Office for 2013 ( or whatever it is called ) is moving towards always on cloud connectivity. And directors at Microsoft are actually idiots who have no impact on product direction. Give me a break. First, fire the Creative Director for speaking the truth. Next fire the Microsoft Corp. Comm. for regurgitating canned responses that makes the company look dumb.

    • by psnyder (1326089)

      These Microsoft Corp. Comm. people are more disconnected from reality than I expected.

      No, I think they know what's going on, even though the things they say are carefully crafted attempts at making us think the opposite. When I was a kid, we called that "lying".

    • Re:Corp. Comm. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tlhIngan (30335) <[ten.frow] [ta] [todhsals]> on Saturday April 06, 2013 @12:44AM (#43376511)

      So the Microsoft Studios Creative Director's views have no impact on what he does at work? He has nothing to do with Microsoft. Wow. Then why is he a director? These Microsoft Corp. Comm. people are more disconnected from reality than I expected.

      By the way, the new Windows 360 Office for 2013 ( or whatever it is called ) is moving towards always on cloud connectivity. And directors at Microsoft are actually idiots who have no impact on product direction. Give me a break. First, fire the Creative Director for speaking the truth. Next fire the Microsoft Corp. Comm. for regurgitating canned responses that makes the company look dumb.

      Or perhaps he was speaking what HE wants to see. Microsoft Studios is Microsoft's first party games publisher - so he's speaking what he'd like to see in the Xbox. Which will probably be similar to what other people at EA, Activision, Ubisoft, etc. wants.

      They want always-on DRM. They don't see the bigger picture. They run independent of Entertainment and Devices (who go under the Microsoft label). They don't speak for anyone's interest except their own as a game publisher.

      Larry Hyrb ("Major Nelson") works for the Xbox division, so he knows what is probably in the next Xbox. And he also knows that division is having to balance a ton of competing interests - some publishers (like Microsoft Studios) will want always-on DRM. Some will want one-time codes. Others want an easy way to be indie. And then there's the other competing interests - the Online division wants web browsers, Bing, and other services in by default. The Windows group would want Windows Media Center extender.

      So yes, the director is speaking frankly. Because he runs that group, which is pretty much isolated from the core Xbox team. Even more so at Microsoft because of the way it's run - Microsoft is a HEAVILY silo'd operation - the people from one team rarely speak with people from another team - and sometimes the lines of communications rise from the engineer through a half-dozen managers (probably a couple of steps below Ballmer), over to the counterpart in the other division, then down a half-dozen managers, to the responsible engineer. I've known people who got in trouble for trying to speak directly to their counterpart.

      It's why the various divisions often have their own toolsets - Windows team have their own compilers and maintain their own compilation tools (and may pull now and again from the Visual Studio team but never are allowed to contribute nor ask about stuff like bugs). Likewise, the Xbox team probably have cloned a copy of the compilers as well and have inhouse people maintaining them as well (because the Xbox director would get a serious chewing out if they even asked a question about the compiler code - as far as the development tools team go - they've done Xbox a favor by giving them a code drop).

      Fiefdoms, is probably the better word. And the Xbox team probably haven't decided how the DRM is supposed to work.

      After all, the tweet was about why he felt always-on DRM was good and didn't see why people would care otherwise. The Xbox team simply said "we can't comment because we've not announced anything". It's likely yes, there will be the option. Or maybe it'll be like the Xbox is now - if you download it, the DRM license is for that console, or if you're signed into Xbox Live (the latter is "always on" as disconnecting will end the game).

      At Microsoft, one hand literally does not know what the other hand is doing.

  • by NemoinSpace (1118137) on Friday April 05, 2013 @10:00PM (#43375799) Homepage Journal
    average intelligence does not mean what you think it means. The autonomic nervous system is there to ensure stupidity's survival.
  • always-on DRM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday April 05, 2013 @10:01PM (#43375809)

    ... Well, here's a thought: Not everybody has internet. I know this is shocking, but some people actually take their XBox, etc, on road trips, to friends houses, etc. Shocking, I know. So unless something really needs internet, it shouldn't have it because there are perfectly legitimate reasons beyond "zomg, piracy!" to not have internet. Secondly, always-on internet means when your servers crap, or you decide the game isn't popular enough, the people who paid for that game get screwed -- they can't play it anymore.

    And for the second reason, I'll never buy a game that needs a DRM server to play. I play an MMO, and I can understand that the server is the game in that case, but unless you can make a compelling case that the game simply can't be played without it, I'm not buying it. Ever. And take a page from EA's playbook, Microsoft: Their stocks just took a big dive because of DRM and now one of your idiot employees is saying your company supports it. Do you want your stock prices to plunge too?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by symbolset (646467) *
      So don't buy it. There is nothing wrong with designing a product for a specific subset of the market, like people who have always on connections.
    • by Comen (321331)

      I actually have a PS3 and XBOX360 and tons of games I almost never finish, but buy them only when I go on vacation and take a console. I always play PC games when at home.

  • We are very sorry if this offended anyone,

    Typical non-apology apology. "I'm sorry you were offended"

    Someone needs to listen to the This American Life episode "Mistakes Were Made"

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/354/mistakes-were-made [thisamericanlife.org]

    --
    BMO

    • I absolutely agree with you. But I'm also not really sure what they need to apologize for. An employee stated an opinion on the net.

      The opinion might have been stupid, and you might even be able to connect it to prevailing attitudes at Microsoft. That said, I'm not sure what Microsoft actually needs to apologize for, so this whole thing started off on a purely invented media vs. public relations theater footing. Nothing actually apology-worthy was done, so the "apology" being flaccid is unsurprising. A

      • Re:Non-apology (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rst123 (2440064) on Friday April 05, 2013 @11:08PM (#43376151)

        I absolutely agree with you. But I'm also not really sure what they need to apologize for. An employee stated an opinion on the net.

        true, if said employee is a low level grunt, but when that employee is high level management, don't you think that changes things?

      • The difference is maybe that this isn't just anyone making a comment. It's not like some bank teller complaining that he can't understand how people could get loans they can't pay back when everyone knows that management tried their best to convince everyone that everyone should have another mortgage running and that nothing can happen. It's the bank manager talking.

  • I understand the xbox is circling the bowl, but if they had any hope to change course firing adam orth would seem a natural choice.
    • by geek (5680)

      He'll probably get a raise. Like the Hollywierd people always say, there's no such thing as bad press. Pretty much every shitty company on the planet is making money hand over fist right now.

    • Then instead of this article we would get one condemning MS for firing an employee because of a personal tweet.

      • by Dan667 (564390)
        firing an employee who does not really care about their Customers would not be very controversial.
  • Admittedly that is a low threshold to cross.

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Friday April 05, 2013 @10:26PM (#43375925)
    From the Microsoft dictionary, 3rd ed.

    Customer Centric adj. Pertaining to any system in which the customer is trapped in the center and cannot easily remove himself. Originally this was accomplished through vendor lock-in and market share, due to changing market conditions it is now largely realized using various IP protection methods, including lawsuits against wayward users, DRM platforms, and DMCA crackdowns. If the newest legislation passes congress this month, we may should be able to add to our customer cenrtic portfolio by having over-zealous prosecutors press criminal charges on customers who stray beyond the bounds of the impenetrable EULA or any TOS we care to write. Currently customers are also kept centralized by the fact that there is no possible legal recourse to any malfeasance or negligence on our part due to the fact that all our customer-facing contracts specify that all disputes must be settled by arbitration, using arbitrators of our choosing.

    See also: Coopetition, survival strategy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by sjwt (161428)

      From the Linux dictionary, 2864rd ed.

      Customer Centric adj. The point where most newbies end up being surrounded by Linux fanboys and yelled at for anything and everything untill they go back to where they came from.

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @12:00AM (#43376323)
    Microsoft needs to prove to its customers that those comments were in jest. Unfortunately for Microsoft, in order to prove something like that, Microsoft requires credibility.

    .
    Such a conundrum for Redmond.....

  • by jamstar7 (694492) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @01:17AM (#43376651)
    If a Creative Director, a corporate officer of a subsidary isn't considered to be a spokesmutant for said subsidary, who the fuck is?????
  • Loyal "consumers" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by X.25 (255792) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @03:11AM (#43377009)

    The most important thing I've noticed, in this whole charade, is this:

    "loyal consumers"

    You are not citizens anymore. Or customers.

    You are consumers, please get used to it.

  • We apologize for the inappropriate comments made by an employee on Twitter yesterday. This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views do not reflect the customer centric approach we take to our products or how we would communicate directly with our loyal consumers.

    Then why are you apologising for him?

  • Fire the bastard, he's made his views clear. If Microsoft's apology is genuine then they can't continue to have that guy working in that position.

  • You all remember OUYA [www.ouya.tv], don't you? The 'Android console' destined to be a failure because Microsoft and SONY were going to crush them completely...remember?
    Only now SONY and Microsoft have begun having a contest to see which one of them can completely tank their console sales the best and Microsoft just took a major lead in the competition... Not that I can really blame SONY as they're still smarting over how badly they got spanked when they removed OtherOS from the PS3.
    Meanwhile with this latest salvo, Mi

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