Microsoft clarifies Xbox One's always-online, used game requirements
In the weeks leading up to Microsoft's Xbox One announcement, there was a lot of chatter about the system requiring an always-online internet connection. And there was at least as much speculation about the system possibly blocking used games. Though Microsoft was pretty vague on the subjects when it announced the console, we finally have some solid info.
Update: Gamers rebelled, Microsoft listened, and the Xbox One's DRM is no more. Check out our full coverage for the details.
In short, the Xbox One will have to connect to the internet once every 24 hours. Well, that's if you're at home. If you sign into a friend's Xbox One somewhere else, it will need to go online once an hour.
Here's the more official wording, straight from the horse's mouth:
- With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies.
As for used games, Microsoft is passing the buck to game publishers. The company isn't enacting a widespread ban on the transfers of used games, but it sounds like companies such as EA and Activision will have that option. Another option would be for publishers to charge fees for license transfers.
In Microsoft's words:
- Today, some gamers choose to sell their old disc-based games back for cash and credit. We designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers. Microsoft does not charge a platform fee to retailers, publishers, or consumers for enabling transfer of these games.
What does it mean?
So basically we're looking at the possibility of some or all used Xbox One games being blocked. It's going to be on a game-by-game basis. And the console is essentially always-online. Sure, you can enjoy 23 hours of offline gaming, but we don't see many critics of always-online gaming celebrating that one.Microsoft can get away with the always-online part because few gamers lack home internet connections. I'd guess that Microsoft wants to get away with it a) as a piracy deterrent, b) as that potential used game deterrent, and c) because many of the Xbox One's non-gaming features (TV integration, Skype, etc.) are tied to the internet.
But gamers who live in extremely rural areas – or those who are against things like this on matters of principle or privacy – will want to look elsewhere. Fortunately, that shouldn't be too hard to do. Sony has definitely stated that the PS4 will not require a constant internet connection.
As for the used game issue, well, I suppose passing it off to publishers is better than Microsoft outright banning all license transfers. But leaving the door open to publishers doing so is hardly reassuring for used game shoppers. It sounds like Redmond wants to keep publishers happy, without having its console branded as "the one that blocks used games." Those expecting a strong, customer-friendly stance from Microsoft have little to be happy about here.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the market. Microsoft might have more buzz heading into E3, but will these policies push some customers in Sony's direction?
We'll be spending some time with Microsoft next week during E3, and will let you know what we find out.