PlayStation 4 vs. Xbox One vs. Steam: The Be-All, End-All DRM Comparison

It ends tonight. Sort of.

One of the most paramount issues involving video games in the next generation doesn’t have to do with console power or variety of exclusives – in fact, it’s about privacy, used games and DRM (or the lack of it). We’ve seen major publishers like EA and Ubisoft implement different DRM means for their games.

But when the Xbox One was announced, it marked a major step forward for digital rights management – and arguably the biggest PR nightmare Microsoft has ever faced. However, recent revelations see the Xbox One as trying to emulate Steam.

Today, we look at the differences between Microsoft’s Xbox One, Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Valve’s Steam in terms of digital rights management, game sharing, rentals and the requirement of discs. Keep in mind that new information is coming in regarding the same. Helpful image follows below.

PlayStation 4_official

PlayStation 4

-The PlayStation 4, as is already known, features no DRM, restrictions or any internet connectivity to be able to play.

-It also allows consumers to sell, trade and share games with whomsoever they wish since ownership is applied to the disc rather than to the license.

-Games can be purchased both online and from retail stores.

-You only require internet connectivity to update the system and play multiplayer.

-Games don’t require updates to work, and you can play offline in single-player.

xbox one thumb

Xbox One

-The Xbox One and Steam are pretty much similar in terms of operating off of digital licenses and prohibiting rental of games. However, the Xbox One has a bit more of a relaxed policy when it comes to sharing games.

-Up to 10 individuals can access a single game library on an Xbox One.

-It has also been indicated that you can access your library on a different Xbox One, though whether two people can concurrently use the same library is in doubt.

-It’s the periodic check-ins where Steam and the Xbox One diverge. The Xbox One needs to be authenticated online every 24 hours. This is done to get around a specific loophole for Steam (see below) and to ensure that you always possess the digital license for the games on your system.

-It’s already been stated that the connection requirements won’t be very high. One can even connect via mobile internet through tethering to validate their system.

-Just like the PlayStation 4, games can purchased online and at retail stores.

-Microsoft has promised that both the digital and disc versions of games will be available on the same day of release.

Steam-Box

Steam

-Steam is a digital download service, which means you can only download games online. You can, however, purchase games offline and have them validated using a license key through Steam.

-In terms of digital downloads and licenses, Steam doesn’t allow you to resell games or trade them to friends.

-You can’t share games on Steam (you can buy games and gift them, but not play and then gift games you own) unless you expose a loophole which allows you to access Steam on some one else’s system, download games and then the other person plays them offline.

-You’ll be able to access the same games at home. This is where the “one-time” connectivity required for playing gets exploited. That violates Terms of Service but so far, Valve hasn’t punished anyone for it.

-Steam is only required to update games – on buying the game (or authenticating a license key you receive), you only need Steam at that moment while downloading. Afterwards you’re anyway free to play the game offline without needing to be signed in to your account.

As of now, it’ll take time to really see if the Xbox One can be just like Steam. The periodic check-ins will need to be used in practice and there’s still a ton of stuff Microsoft needs to clear up. If the future is indeed digital, even for consoles, then Sony shows no signs in letting go of the used games and rentals market with the PlayStation 4. One thing is for sure though: This generation’s console war will be like none before it.


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  • halo legend

    I think its messed up that you need a internet connection to play Xbox one because not everyone can afford that a month but anyone can save up for a system I’ve been a Xbox player since day one I’m the biggest halo fan ever and now I’m not sure if I can even finish the fight why Xbox why: (

  • Brendo

    Sony will have DRM for digital downloads. Without DRM for digital downloads, people could freely copy and distribute games without penalty. Terrible article, more Sony fanboy hogwash.

    • fastharryDOTcom

      Thats if you don’t brick your Ps4 with an update, LOL..

  • Steve

    Let’s be honest: Disk-based DRM actually also is DRM.

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