It’s been a tough week for Microsoft with some pretty scathing remarks over the direction and design of the Xbox One. However a recent report from MCV now highlights some very worrying plans for their flagship console.
MS announced that all consoles would ship with a Kinect, it was later revealed that the console would not work if it was not attached at all times. Today it has been revealed that the Kinect is likely to employ visual DRM. Quoting directly from the article:
ExtremeTech reports that Microsoft has filed for a patent that allows Kinect to monitor the number of viewers in the room. It then cross-checks this with the maximum number of viewers permitted by the licence that a user agrees to when purchasing or renting content.
If it is deemed that too many people are present, the user will be prompted to pay an additional fee to upgrade the licence.
Says the filing: “The users consuming the content on a display device are monitored so that if the number of user-views licensed is exceeded, remedial action may be taken.”
As Kinect continuously observes the room and it’s participants this leads to extremely worrying implications, the example was given that as Kinect continuously learns it will have the biometric profile of the Xbox live user stored, Kinect also has tech built in to track the person using the controller; this could in fact mean Kinect can block access to the game if you leave the room or hand the controller to a friend (or as implied earlier, charge a fee based on this action). As mentioned earlier the Xbox One will not work without a Kinect attached at all times meaning there may not be a way to circumvent this, and the patent diagram seems to support that.
Microsoft have refused to comment on the story however considering their stance on several other topics their refusal to deny the rumours is somewhat damning. We have already confirmed that the Xbox One does not require an always on connection but it does need to check in with the mothership approximately once every 24 hours
So check out the MCV’s report and judge for yourself. When I discussing this with industry colleagues all immediately cancelled their pre-orders; does this affect your feelings about the Xbox One? The really big question for me is whether Microsoft are doing themselves more harm than good by waiting until E3 to tackle rumours and speculation?
Updates Via MCV:
UPDATE: To address the question of the age of the patent. Yes, the patent is old. But we have been told by UK industry sources within the last month that this system will be implemented on Xbox One.
UPDATE 2: Microsoft has now issued MCV with the following comment: “Microsoft regularly applies for and receives patents as part of its business practice; not all patents applied for or received will be incorporated into a Microsoft product.
Again no denial which worries me more, they could make this all go away with a single statement but the refusal to do so smacks of is extremely poor community management. By ignoring baseless rumours it’s certainly a valid response (from a certain perspective). However refusal to clarify an element such as a legal application for a controversial feature is foolish. We’ll keep you up to date on new developments.