Jun
19
2013

Microsoft U-Turn on XBox One Plans

When the XBox One was revealed at E3 earlier this month, many details were revealed about the console that caused widespread criticism of the console by both players, press and gaming journalists alike. I'm sure by now you've read the myriads of articles about it; but if not, here's a quick recap: The console would require an internet connection every 24 hours to check validity of licences to play any games stored on the console (possibly being unusable for gaming if a connection could not be established); used games could only be transferred to a new owner once; reactivating a third-hand game would cost a fee and games could not be resold for less than 90% of their original value (meaning buying used games could end up MORE expensive than buying them new); and so on.

After soon being followed by Sony's announcement of the PS4 allowing full sharing of disk-based games just by giving the game away like you would do today, lack of online requirement and £100 lower price tag, Microsoft were looking like real losers in this year's "console wars" (an endearing term given by the media to explain the concept of gaming consoles battling for control of the market by selling the most consoles). Even Nintendo got a pot shot in, with Satoru Iwata revealing in an interview his view on controlling the trade of used games:

"The best possible countermeasure against people buying used product is making the kind of product that people never want to sell. Taking as an example Mario Kart or Smash Bros., even though you might think, 'I’ve done enough with this,' you’ll still have second thoughts. 'Wait a minute. If one of my friends comes over, I might need this again.' You’re never going to want to sell these games. That’s something that always occupies our minds. We need to make software that players don’t want to sell."

It seems Microsoft have finally thrown in the towel and admitted their plans to control usage of their console AND trade of used games just isn't going to work. Today, in an official posting on XBox Wire, Microsoft announced a complete reversal of their strategy, ditching the online requirement and removing control over used games.

Let's let Don Mattrick, President of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, explain the details:

..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. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One. 



You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.



So, today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. Here is what that means:


 

  • An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games– After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. 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.

     
  • Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.

     

In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console — there will be no regional restrictions.

 

These changes will impact some of the scenarios we previously announced for Xbox One. 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.

We appreciate your passion, support and willingness to challenge the assumptions of digital licensing and 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. We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds…

To be honest, the surprising part here is not that Microsoft U-turned; but rather the speed in which it happened. Of course, this is not to say Microsoft could not change their minds in the future… but until then, chalk up another victory for common sense and consumer rights.

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