How the new Xbox is like the old Steam.

The next Xbox is starting to get teased by Microsoft. The new Xbox will require an ‘always on’ connection to the internet. This will be used with some form of DRM to prevent used games from functioning. Business Insider has the basics. More about what that means below the jump.

This reminds me of when Steam was bad. The first couple years of Steam, right when Half Life 2 came out, were miserable.  I Hate, HATE, HATED Steam with a burning passion. I refused to play HL2, refused to use Steam.  Even refused to play any Valve Product, even ones already owned. The reason being Steam was basically useless DRM which was preventing me from playing a game I was very much looking forward to. However this was pre constant connection to the internet, during modem days.

That ‘constant connection’ shit was not cool. In the long run, Steam won me back. But only after getting into Everquest, WOW and online gaming.  After constant connections became a way of life.  The Orange Box (All of Half Life 2 plus Team Fortress 2, and some other Valve Games) got me back and onto the service. Valve turned DRM into a Service I was willing to use, and still use to this day.

What does this story say about Microsoft? Valve was brilliant to take crappy DRM software and turn it into a platform for software distribution which people love. Microsoft is the king of revision, and copying.  There is no way they have missed antidotal stories like mine. Although the initial reaction to the new Xboxs restrictions might cause backlash, in the long run if they can create a device which provides access to games without needing disks at all, they will be able to use a console to compete with the likes of Steam.

Will they be able to take down the king of internet gaming? Probably not. Steam has years of experience on Microsoft. They have tons of Good Will. Just search “Good Guy Gabe” meme’s on Reddit/r/gaming. Valve’s opening shot was the Steam Box, and Microsoft is firing back in kind. There are so many things that could go right, or wrong over the long run that guessing who comes out better in the end is a fools errand… But there’s a fight on and the ultimate goal of which is to capture the hearts and minds (but really eyes and dollars) of gamers.

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