Video Games

Privacy and Liberty in the XBox One Roll Out

Eighth gen game consoles out this Christmas.


want privacy?
Illusive Photography/

Sony recently announced the Playstation 4 would be released on November 15, and Microsoft is reported to be considering a November 8 release date for the Xbox One to pre-empt Sony. The eighth generation of video game consoles have been making news, however, since they were first unveiled earlier this year. Sony and Microsoft hadn't released a new game console in about seven years, and that period has seen technological advancements gamers were excited to see implemented in the latest game consoles. Not every new idea, though, has been well-received.

Immediately after the initial roll out of the Xbox One in May, Game Informer's Matt Helgeson wrote that the Xbox One "confirmed that Microsoft's play for the console video game market had always been about the control of the living room." Fans (read consumers) were especially concerned about the Kinect, the game system's add-on camera. While Microsoft's vision was of an Xbox always just one voice command away from activation, it meant the Kinect would be "always on," and have to always be connected to the Xbox. Unsurprisingly, this worried fans (read: customers) who valued their privacy.

A patent application Microsoft filed last year to use cameras to confirm users had paid for content, coupled with allegations Microsoft allowed the video-chat service Skype to be used for government spying made Microsoft's vision for the Kinect's role in the Xbox One hard for gamers to see the same way even before the avalanche of revelations about the NSA's internet data collection programs and Microsoft's participation in those (it was, for example, reportedly the first participant in the PRISM program). Those disclosures eventually forced Microsoft's position. Earlier this month, the company announced the Kinect would not be required for the Xbox One to be functional. That was, amazingly, not the first time Microsoft changed its plans to quell consumer concerns about the Xbox One.

In June, just a month after the Xbox One was unveiled, Microsoft abandoned its plans for a strict DRM (digital rights management) regime. Gamers had long traded, borrowed, and exchanged video games, and Microsoft's attempt to restrict that lowered the value of the video gaming system for those consumer considering purchasing one. Microsoft's interest in protecting its and its partners' so-called "intellectual property rights" was trumped by the company's interest in keeping consumers happy and ensuring the Xbox One was a profitable venture. Consumers, after all, could turn to Sony's PlayStation 4. And while hardcore gamers might always insist on having both systems, more casual gamers would almost certainly choose the one with more functionality (meaning, the system that didn't restrict the ability to use the system based on the fiction of "copyright" and intellectual property).

When Microsoft announced its reversal on DRM, it was after it had appeared Sony did the same with the PlayStation 4. The reality wasn't as simple; while Sony did indicate used games would operate normally on the PlayStation 4, third-party developers didn't have to adhere to that principle. Sony pointed out it was the same policy it had with its successful PlayStation 3.

Nevertheless, pre-orders for the Xbox One briefly surpassed those for the Playstation 4 a day after Microsoft's announcement it was reversing its DRM plans. Fans remained upset about the perceived lack of clarity about Sony's DRM policy and rewarded Microsoft in the market. There are still several months left before either video game console is released and the companies could still choose to alter their policies to more closely fit what consumers say they want. As the companies respond to consumers expressed desires, they show how markets can function to ensure both privacy and freedom, when that's what consumers actually value.

This article originally appeared at The Libertarian Republic.


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  1. The move to restrict consumers choices in favor of content providers is particularly unfortunate in the video movie market where Sony’s design of Blu-Ray technology essentially spit right in the face of consumers by turning control of even the most trivial functions of their disc player over to media producers.

    The result is that every Blu-ray disc is different, permitting and restricting different functions. Load times are horrendous relative to DVD and your player is now so stupid it won’t even remember where you left off when you stop a movie half way through. Of course, much of this functionality can be provided by the media producers, but many of them are behind on enabling these features and they don’t give a shit about feature standardization anyway. Press the wrong button on your remote and your SOny Blu-Ray player scolds you that you just tried to do something that your content provider doesn’t allow. It’s only a matter of time before video players deliver a shock for such violations.

    1. There’s a mania to take things that work perfectly well and fuck them up.

      Governmental type thinking infects everything.

    2. I work at Home with Google. It’s by-far the nicest job I have had. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Here is what I do,

  2. Is my GameCube spying on me? I need to know!

    1. It’s pointing and laughing at you for having a GameCube.

      1. I guess I’ll just have to console myself with my Pikachu N64 then.

        1. It’s all about the SSB, assuming you have friends you can still rope into playing.

          1. Yes, this. First one was the best one.

            1. Except for cheap-ass fucking Fox. God, how I hated Fox.

              1. Kirby was the hotness.

        2. Goldeneye

          1. This too. The epic prox-mine and autogun matches.

            1. Take the body armor. Mine the body armor. Kill enemy with mine or guns. Take the body armor…

  3. Maybe its because I’m becoming an old man or maybe its because my parents aren’t the ones buying my video games anymore, but I am just sort of sick of the whole industry. Just invent Holodecks already!

      1. Hopefully they’ll have a self-cleaning feature.

    1. I was never really into the industry, and roll my eyes at the walls of text about which first-person shooter people here are playing this week, and how it’s so much better than the one some other poster is playing. 😉

      1. Exactly. Battlefield is clearly the superior MP FPS, and anyone who disagrees is obviously an idiot.

        1. Battlefield 4 will give us new and interesting ways to be blinded by the sun.

  4. Dan McLaughlin ?@baseballcrank 4m
    You know, Congress can vote on stuff without asking the President’s permission to take a vote.
    Retweeted by Matt Welch

  5. This dude is a friend of mine, if he makes into the top ten he goes to Beer Camp which means I get a bunch of free beer so please vote for him.

    1. Who is your friend? I click your link and get white screen when his offering appears.

      1. Jim Matthews
        Brewing Bad is the name of the video.

        Thanks for helping out!

        1. Yeah…I switched from Safari to Firefox and saw his video!

  6. Console gaming peaked with the Dreamcast. It’s been a plodding downhill trudge with franchise reboots, cash-cow IP sequel factories, awful online presences, and very occasional glimmers of quality done better on the P.C.

    1. I loved my Dreamcast! Too bad so many games never made it to the U.S.

  7. Ding Dang Doogie is not goonna liek that at all


  8. Congress voting down a strike on Syria is Obama’s easiest way out of this.

  9. BREAKING: Obama has graciously just announced that a debate and vote will be held in Congress before any Syria strike is held.

    1. He’s compelling Congress to do its job so he can slough off the trappings of executive imperialism? Or does he earnestly believe Congress will vote in favor of dronemurdering Syrians?

      1. Or does he earnestly believe Congress will vote in favor of dronemurdering Syrians?

        Greasy little Chicago pol is going to use the “Cameron Option” and let congress get him out of a war with a 4% approval level. Pretty shrewd.

        This will be the only time I ever praise the President…well done sir!

        1. Unless some congressman leaks information from his intelligence committee that shows beyond a doubt Assad carried out the attack. Then Obama looks indecisive.

          1. Obama always looks indecisive.

            1. There’s a reason for that.

            2. He’s not indecisive, he’s exhibiting the courage of maintaining an open-ended approach to foreign policy.

        2. I’m in favor. Didn’t Friedman say something about getting politicians to do the right thing for the wrong reason? I doubt he had this in mind, but I’m pleased Obama still feels he’s restrained by the will of the people, however tenuously.

        3. Yup. Although I’m not familiar with him, I would be willing to bet this is the smartest thing he has ever done in his life.

          1. “Although I’m not very familiar with his life, I’d be willing to bet this is the smartest thing he’s ever done.”

    2. And if Congress says no?

      1. The King can do as he likes.

        1. Ooops…we’ve been overtaken by events.

          According to Drudge the “Peace President” has decided!

  10. “While I believe I have the authority to carry out this strike without any authorization, I believe that this issue is too important to not be debated.”

    Okay asshole, you are indeed most magnanimous in deigning yourself by allowing Congress to talk about this.

    1. I guess that answers my question.

  11. Obama totally should’ve held that press conference wearing his Nobel.

    1. Pity he accepted the standard Nobel and not the cool “Heavyweight Title Belt” option.….._Lopez.jpg

      My kingdom for Photosohp!

  12. More importantly, what does thong-wearing, X-Box-gaming girl in the picture think about intervening in Syria?

    1. Preferably something phrased in empty-headed, aphoristic drivel so we can laugh indulgently while showering her with more bills.

      1. ….something phrased in empty-headed, aphoristic drivel..

        I had no idea that some members of congress were so hot.?

  13. “I could have attacked Syria if it weren’t for these obstructionist Republicans.”

  14. Expect to see more of this:

    Quite extraordinary: after 30 years of presidents strengthening powers of exec branch, POTUS is giving some of that power back to Congress.

    ? Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) August 31, 2013


    Remember to come up for air before getting back down to work, Chuck.

    1. Hilarious. BO isn’t giving *any* power to Congress; he is asserting his own power to un-Constitutionally declare war and then stating that he would nonetheless like Congress’ input. All the better to provide pretext, I suppose.

  15. “While I believe I have the authority to carry out this strike without any authorization, I believe that this issue is too important to not be debated.”

    Well, if the Constitutional-Scholar-in-Chief sys it…

    Why not, “While I believe I have the authority to unilaterally disband the Congress and imprison any members who dare speak out against me, I believe that this issue is too important to not be debated.”?

  16. If you’re dumb enough to buy a system that you know is watching you all the time, as far as I’m concerned, when the Pigs come and drag you away for Thought Crime, it will just be natural selection at work.

    1. I call it the Weiner Effect.

  17. “Nevertheless, pre-orders for the Xbox One surpassed those for the Playstation 4 a day after Microsoft’s announcement it was reversing its DRM plans.”

    Lol. You forgot the word “for” before “a day.” Xbox One FINALLY moved higher than PS4 on that ONE best sellers list… For that ONE day… On that ONE website… Except not really, ’cause there were, like, 5 different PS4 bundles on that list and 1 Xbox One.

    “Pre-orders for the Xbox One surpassed those for the Playstation 4” – It’s completely impossible to know this WITHOUT SEEING THE NUMBERS and it’s incredibly disingenuous to come to this conclusion based on ONE ONLINE RETAILER’S BEST SELLERS LIST.

    This statement is complete nonsense. And if you follow gaming, you’d know that PS4 is FAR outselling Xbone in almost every instance. P.S. Xbone is still available to order on Amazon. PS4 is sold out.

    “Fans remained upset about the perceived lack of clarity about Sony’s DRM policy and rewarded Microsoft in the market.”

    Lolwut? How did fans REMAIN upset about something they were never really upset about in the first place??? Also, there is not, nor has there ever been, a “perceived lack of clarity” about Sony’s DRM policy or anything else concerning the PS4. Sony, unlike Microsoft has been very clear in their message and haven’t changed it one bit. This statement is a complete fabrication.

    1. Ugh. Someone embroiled in the console wars. Again. This is so 2005.

      1. The tip-off was his message started with ‘lol’. Never a good sign that what follows is going to be worth reading.

  18. Furthermore, I’d like to direct you to the following links:…..s-retailer…

    And respectfully ask for proof that anyone in the history of ever had been “upset about the perceived lack of clarity about Sony’s DRM policy” or that there is any such “perceived lack of clarity.”

  19. Is this the version of The Box that sucks your memories out and sends them to The Riddler so he can become even more powerful and all-knowing than Obama?

    1. Maybe it’s the one that doesn’t sound like a jet engine when it’s running and doesn’t offer mysterious, catastrophic disk drive failures which cause users to throw the thing against a wall and smash it to pieces – or so I’ve heard.

  20. I like the coverage of this issue, but am noting Mr. Krayewski’s penchant for hyperbole (“Shitholistan” not representative of attitude welcoming to immigrants; “fiction” of copyright is part of US Constitution, despite abuses by trolls and by groups like MPAA and RIAA).

    1. I had the same reaction, particularly as to copyright – which is all kinds of broken but it does exist.

  21. eres un encanto besitos

  22. eres un encanto besitos

  23. DRM policy and rewarded Microsof

  24. participant in the PRISM

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