Xbox One: Microsoft reverses stance on connectivity, sharing

June 19, 2013 | 4:07 p.m.

Attendees await the start of Microsoft's Xbox E3 2013 media briefing in Los Angeles on Monday. (Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images)

Microsoft Vice President Phil Harrison speaks about the Xbox One console during the company's media presentation ahead of E3 in Los Angeles. (Michael Nelson / EPA)

Phil Spencer, vice president of Microsoft Game Studios, speaks during the company's media presentation on Monday, ahead of E3 in Los Angeles. (Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images)

Bonnie Ross, general manager and studio head of 343 Industries, introduces the upcoming "Halo" game during Microsoft's Xbox media briefing on Monday ahead of E3 in Los Angeles. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

A scene from an upcoming "Halo" video game, shown during Microsoft's media briefing on Monday. ahead of E3 in Los Angeles. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

Attendees of Microsoft's news presentation watch a demonstration of the upcoming Xbox One game "Ryse: Son of Rome" on Monday ahead of E3 in Los Angeles. (Michael Nelson / EPA)

Attendees of Microsoft's media briefing watch a presentation of "Battlefield 4" on Monday, ahead of E3 in Los Angeles. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Phil Spencer, vice president of Microsoft Game Studios, speaks during the company's media press presentation on Monday ahead of E3 in Los Angeles. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

Yusuf Mehdi, a senior vice president at Microsoft, speaks during the company's Xbox media briefing on June 10, 2013, ahead of the E3 expo in Los Angeles. (Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images)

Dan Greenawalt, developer of the video game Forza Motorsport, speaks during Microsoft's news presentation on June 10, 2013, ahead of E3 in Los Angeles. (Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images)

Attendees of Microsoft's media briefing watch a presentation on "Dead Rising 3" on June 10, 2013, ahead of E3 in Los Angeles. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Wargaming.net CEO Victor Kislyi introduces the next installment of "World of Tanks" for the Xbox 360 during the Microsoft's media presentation ahead of E3 in Los Angeles. (Michael Nelson / EPA)

Attendees listen to Microsoft's media presentation on June 10, 2013 ahead of E3 in Los Angeles. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

Attendees exit Microsoft's news presentation on Monday, ahead of E3 in Los Angeles. (Jonathan Alcorn / Bloomberg)

Microsoft has pulled the plug on many of its controversial network connectivity policies surrounding the Xbox One. No longer, wrote Microsoft executive Don Mattrick today, will the company impose many of its earlier stated requirements in regard to offline gaming and the sharing and selling of used games.

Most important, the company has backtracked from its intention to have users register a game every 24 hours in order to play. Just two weeks ago Microsoft stated that the Xbox One would only allow players to utilize a game for 24 hours without an Internet connection.

“After a one-time system setup with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc-based game without ever connecting online again,” wrote Mattrick, president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business. “There is no 24-hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.”

The latter policy became the subject of much criticism from the media and gaming community at last week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, so much so that Sony, in a news conference for its own next-generation console, the PS4, drew massive cheers for taking the opposite stance.

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“Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback,” Mattrick wrote, explaining the company’s reversal.

Microsoft also altered its policies regarding used games.

Previously, the Xbox One envisioned users not needing to use a game disc beyond the initial install. Doing so, however, meant the ability to loan or rent games would not be supported at Xbox One’s launch in November, as those who purchased the disc would then need to transfer the game’s license to someone else.

Forget those polices, said Microsoft today. “There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360,” Mattrick wrote.

These changes, however, will greatly affect what were to be some integral features of the Xbox One. Microsoft, for instance, touted the ability of games being tied to a user’s account rather than a disc, meaning a user could log onto any Xbox One, anywhere, and access his or her games.

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Microsoft said today that such a feature will no longer be possible.

“These changes will impact some of the scenarios we previously announced for Xbox One,” Mattrick wrote. “The sharing of games will work as it does today, you will simply share the disc. Downloaded titles cannot be shared or resold. Also, similar to today, playing disc based games will require that the disc be in the tray.”

Today’s announcement also puts an end to the Xbox One’s ambitious family sharing plan, according to published reports. A Microsoft representative had not yet responded to Hero Complex’s request for comment, but speaking to video game site Kotaku, Microsoft’s vice president of Xbox Live, Marc Whitten, said changes to the company’s family plan have been killed.

Earlier, Microsoft touted the ability to allow up to 10 members of a family to log into any Xbox One and play from the shared games library. While Microsoft hadn’t yet detailed exactly how the larger family sharing options would work, such options were centered on the Xbox One’s ability to no longer depend on a game disc.

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“We imagined,” Mattrick wrote today, “a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing, and new ways to try and buy games. We believe in the benefits of a connected, digital future.”

Regardless of the policy shift, some major games planned for the Xbox One and the PS4 are built around the prospect of home consoles that are almost always connected to the Internet. Titles such as Bungie’s “Destiny” and Respawn Entertainment’s “Titanfall,” the latter an Xbox One exclusive, offer single-player experiences built around connected gaming.

Since the Xbox One will rely heavily on data from Microsoft’s servers, a.k.a. “the cloud,” Microsoft executives touted the ability of games to constantly evolve based on user data. Phil Spencer, vice president of Microsoft Studios, spoke at E3 of the benefits of “persistent worlds,”  meaning game universes that could be tweaked daily from Microsoft’s servers.

“These games that are actually living worlds,” Spencer said. “I log into a world that continues. That world has its own time. It continues to persist whether I’m playing or not.”

The creativity of game developers won’t be constrained by the changes in policy, but the Xbox One will now be geared to function without such connectivity.

“While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content,” Mattrick wrote. “We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds.”

– Todd Martens

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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Comments


8 Responses to Xbox One: Microsoft reverses stance on connectivity, sharing

  1. Voice of Rationality says:

    So between the Great Start Button Wars and this, that's two high-profile backpedals centered around questionable design choices. As one of the biggest players in the software industry and with their focus on making inroads on hardware, you'd think they'd focus group some of this and then respond when they get negative feedback. This "stick to your guns until you're a smoking cinder, then cave" methodology won't cut it when they're competing with Apple, where marketing and design are joined at the hip, and Google, where the most popular 3rd party hacks and apps quickly become the next iteration of Android OS's features.

  2. Bendme Over says:

    So…after you slapped me in the face, bent me over, went in through my out door repeatedly with echoing laughter from the bowels of hell. Threw me to the floor, spit in my face when I asked why, abandoned me. Told me to go fornicate myself but not before I prayed to the big M in the town square. Showed clear allegiance to your corporation friends while ignoring the people who threw money in your face to make you what you are today even though the red ring of death made humiliating headline news around the world…you want me to pat you on the head and say "awww…it's ok. Come here ya big knucklehead and let me give ya some love even though my bum is still sore." Yeah…I think that'll go over rather well.

  3. alsdkfjaskdfjasdfj says:

    Too late. Start working on the press conference for the NextBox in 2020. The Titanic realized at some point it was past the point of saving. I suggest you take a page from that book and just start lowering the life boats and don't get sucked under by the vortex. And for God sake hire someone BEFORE E3 to find out what your loyal customers want instead of finding out AFTER E3. Hire a real person who actually walks the streets and talks to you know…the little guy. Many 360's dying on me in a year and a half had nothing at all to do with this comment. I don't hold a grudge.

  4. XanaXand says:

    I just love how Microsoft spins this, always in the "we just want everyone to be connected and now you users are gonna lose some cool features", rather than the truth. This all came down to how can they make more money by no longer allowing people to easily share games on disc. Make everybody pay for a new game/license and to constantly big brother them by forcing connectivity. Such BS. This is absolutely the death bell for Microsoft on yet another front. They lost huge on tablets, are losing big with smart phones, had a colossal embarrassment with music with Zune, Apple ate their lunch even on PC's, and now gaming consoles. Is MS even a relevant company anymore?

  5. John Wilhite says:

    So now I want everyone to think about what just happened you all just handicapped a new system by just asking for a updated xbox 360 nothing new….no more one disc=two licenses no more one game= 10 people have access…. now your stuck back to sharing a simple disc thay two people can’t use at same time all you have is a suped up xbox 360 no more playing off a cloud based storage system. So because people are scared of change we have crippled a what would have been a nice jump to the future. I want everyone to think about how often you play your 360 online and think is it really that bad to connect to internet every once in a while.

  6. John Wilhite says:

    So now I want everyone to think about what just happened you all just handicapped a new system by just asking for a updated xbox 360 nothing new….no more one disc=two licenses no more one game= 10 people have access…. now your stuck back to sharing a simple disc thay two people can’t use at same time all you have is a suped up xbox 360 no more playing use at same time all you have is a suped up xbox 360 no more playing off a cloud based storage system. So because people are scared of change we have crippled a what would have been a nice jump to the future. I want everyone to think about how often you play your 360 online and think is it really that bad to connect to internet every once in a while.

  7. Gene H. says:

    So now I want everyone to think about how the Xbone has a built in Kinect, er, camera that MS is going to use to gather marketing data on you and sell targeted advertising. Or maybe they'll just hand over that data nicely when the NSA wants a peek into your house. I wouldn't buy an Xbox One if you paid me 1,000 times the price to do so.

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