Is Microsoft showing us the future of gaming?
In preparation for an upcoming Bitstory article, I’ve been gaming a lot on my Nintendo NES. And when I want to, I can just take a cartridge and slide it into the front of the machine and, you know, play a game.
Nintendo was the first game company to do DRM, but it wasn’t a hedge against consumer misuse of their products. It was made to control the whims of the developers of games for their systems, a way of controlling the quality and pace of game releases so that the market didn’t become glutted with inferior products for Nintendo game machines and thus avoid the shakeout that felled the entire North American video game industry in 1983-1984. When you gained licensee status for the NES, Nintendo would manufacture your cartridges, and during the process the company would put a key chip into the circuitry, which would communicate with the 10NES chip inside the console and allow the game to be loaded. In this way Nintendo controlled what made it into their games ecosystem.
DRM or Digital Rights Management these days are restrictions on what users can do with digital product, be it movies, games or anything else. It’s nice to be able to insert a cartridge into the NES after 30 years and play it unfettered. With Microsoft’s next-gen console Xbox One, this ability could literally become a thing of the past.