Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal last week did very little to impress consumers who tuned in to see the next-gen console’s ability to play video games — although, sports fans and anyone who likes to watch Jeopardy live were probably really excited. Unfortunately, all the details that have surfaced about the system since the debut have done little to reverse early opinions, including the news that the console is region locked and could have some extremely restrictive Kinect-based DRM.
Speaking to Digital Trends, a Microsoft representative confirmed that the Xbox One will be region locked when it launches later this year, saying:
“Similar to the movie and music industry, games must meet country-specific regulatory guidelines before they are cleared for sale. We will continue to work with our partners to follow these guidelines with Xbox One.”
This particular restriction on the Xbox One comes as little surprise — the majority of video game systems do not allow users to run software from any county/region but their own — but it is still a disappointing confirmation nonetheless.
Far more troubling than the Xbox One’s region locked status, is an older Microsoft patent that describes some truly frighting DRM that would only be possible with the mandatory Kinect 2 sensor.
As discovered by MCV, this patent describes a system that would allow Kinect to monitor how many people are viewing media in the room, and then cross-check that number with the maximum number of viewers that the licence holder is allowed under the TOS. If the Kinect software determines that the user has too many people watching, it would prompt them to pay an additional fee to upgrade the licence.
Officially, Microsoft has specifically addressed this Kinect-based DRM system by saying that not all of their patents are incorporated into their products. With that said, this particular patent is extremely worrisome as it seems to dovetail perfectly with three aspects of the Xbox One’s architecture; Kinect is required to be plugged into the console, Kinect is always-on in some capacity, and the system requires an internet connection.
Microsoft may not launch with the Xbox One with this Kinect patent enabled, but it is easy to see that the system has (at the very least) been set up with the potential to give the company a monopoly on the used game market, and camera-based DRM to ensure total compliance from all users. At this point, I guess we all need to ask ourselves exactly how much we trust Microsoft.