Xbox One: Microsoft reverses stance on connectivity, sharing
Attendees await the start of Microsoft's Xbox E3 2013 media briefing in Los Angeles on Monday. (Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images)Link
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)Link
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)Link
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)Link
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)Link
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)Link
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)Link
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)Link
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)Link
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)Link
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)Link
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)Link
Attendees listen to Microsoft's media presentation on June 10, 2013 ahead of E3 in Los Angeles. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)Link
Attendees exit Microsoft's news presentation on Monday, ahead of E3 in Los Angeles. (Jonathan Alcorn / Bloomberg)Link
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.
“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.
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.
“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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