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Microsoft: Xbox One not always-online...just every day

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Also goes pro-publisher on used games

You'd think they'd get this sort of thing out of the way back when they announced it, but mere days before E3, Microsoft has finally shed some light on the burning policy questions hounding their upcoming Xbox One console. In a series of blog posts they've tackled the new machine's attitude towards rumored "always-online" DRM, some Kinect questions, as well as how players (and publishers) will be able to handle used games.

Regarding the always-online question, the Xbox One will not be "always-online". Just..."every day online", with players allowed to take it offline for up to 24 hours before losing the ability to play games (though its TV and Blu-ray/DVD-playing functionality will be unimpeded).

And the rest...well, if nothing else, it's at least good to have some clarification, even if the policies are decidedly leaning in favor of publishers rather than consumers, by most interpretations. I doubt our reactions to the initial reveal have been changed much by the new information. Check out more details and our thoughts below.

I guess the ball's in Sony's court now. Will the PS4's own suite of restrictions (if any) be better or worse for consumers?

*Our reactions are italicized.

On Always-Online:

  • The Xbox One can play games offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour while accessing your library on another console. That limit seems rather short for a frequently-travelling gamer, much less one that might not have a reliable or dedicated internet connection (of which there are many outside developed countries). And what about what may happen if someone can't check in for an extended period (such as while moving house)? Will he or she be able to log in again and get it all back, no questions asked, or be treated like a person who's overstayed his visa period (i.e. like a suspect)?

On Used Games:

  • Retail and digital games will be released day-and-date with each other, and will install to the Xbox One's hard drive, after which a disc is no longer required to play. This should be good news for import gamers (those who own the right region of hardware, at least), since they'll be able to pick up new games direct rather than rely on import stores.
  • It's ultimately up to the publisher and "participating retailers" whether trade-ins and the ability to lend games to friends will be allowed. Yikes! Microsoft not mandating that behavior virtually ensures that some publishers will opt out of that particular option, customer be damned.
  • Up to ten designated "family" accounts can have unlimited access to your "shared games" library, and will be free to play your shared games, even when at different consoles. I'd hate to be the 11th sibling.
  • If a publisher decides to allow players to give their disc-based games away, the only other conditions for a transfer are that a friend be on your friends list for at least a month, and that the game only be transferable once. This seems like an odd requirement, designed solely to prevent strangers from gifting games to each other. Whatever happened to random acts of generosity?

On Kinect:

  • Though the Kinect must be connected for the Xbox One to work, when the machine is off, the Kinect camera is also off, and the Kinect microphone listens only for the "Xbox On" activation phrase, and nothing else. This feature can be turned off, and Kinect can be set to "pause" if you don't want it to be active while you play non-Kinect games or do other stuff.The real question is if you can tweak it to respond only to you and yours, rather than accidentally turning on when it hears what it thinks is the phrase coming from TV or the outside.
  • The Kinect has a suite of privacy settings that allow you to determine responsiveness as well as how data is used. It won't record conversations or video without your consent. This remains to be seen, and only time (and perhaps some intrepid hackers) will tell if Microsoft keeps its word


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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures


 



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