I feel the Xbox brand was beaten up by Microsoft themselves just as much as it was by the back lash of potential consumers.
Some of the policies Microsoft had in mind for their next-gen console, in my opinion, were brilliant but in an effort to patch up the holes they shot into their foot, the Xbox One had all of its DRM-based aspects ripped from its soul regardless of how bad or good some of the underlying features were.
With their vision for the future set to video games giving them a slightly more positive reception in the gaming sphere, I feel Microsoft now has the opportunity to look back on the DRM debacle and cherry-pick some of the features they originally planned to implement with the Xbox One’s launch and find ways to add them. One of the most notable features I advocated for, and was upset when they removed, was the family sharing function.
What the family sharing allowed Xbox One owners to do was digitally share their video games with up to 10 Xbox One owners, presumably family. Those on the ‘family list’ would have access to any game the owner grants them so long as the original owner is not currently play the game at the same time. It’s such a convenient form of digital innovation that in all essence is the same as handing my physical copy of a random game to my friend. The issue was that the feature utilized the always-online check system to ensure there’s no fraud. Fair enough, but once the always online check had to go, so did family sharing.
It has come to my attention that Microsoft plans to re-instate their family sharing policy that vanished along with the DRM removal.
“As a gamer, there were a lot of those features that I think really resonated and were smart features for people who really have a lot of games and maybe play on a couple consoles or have bunch of people in the house or want to share with friends," said Head of Xbox Phil Spencer in the Gamertag Podcast when asked about family sharing, “I haven't given up on those ideas."
This is a feature everyone wants--every Xbox One owner at least. OXM even reported on a petition to reinstate family sharing. Before it comes back, Spencer admitted it would be done “in the right way.”
The issue now is to prevent fraud since the system has to ping the server to ensure the original owner is not only allowing specific people to play the game, but also prevent some sort of piracy. Perhaps Microsoft can allow you to choose whether or not your console is always on to enable this function. Still, this could scare people into thinking the switch is always set to on because “big brother” has to be watching.
I know Microsoft originally aimed for a full digital world. Turns out people weren’t ready. But much like the innovation they did with the launch of Xbox Live, Microsoft needs to step it up again and bring innovation to the gaming industry once more. Steam originally came under a lot of fire during its earlier years with bad server issues and consumers complaining about how the service was required to play Half-Life 2. Some even claimed it would cause the “death of PC gaming.” Look where that all went in the end.