Microsoft Officially Answers Xbox One Used Game, Always-On Questions. It's Not Good News

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News Posted: Thu, Jun 6 2013 8:27 PM
Major questions have been asked about how the Xbone handles user privacy, game authentication, used games, and online check-ins -- questions that you'd think Microsoft would answer directly. Instead, the company has opted to release a new website online, rather than put any particular individual front and center to take fire on the topics. Regardless, these are the answers to the questions we've been asking for nearly a year -- let's dig in.

There's one high note.

Family Gaming:

Discs and downloads are equal partners on Xbox One -- buy either one on launch day, and you're treated identically. Your library will be available on *any* Xbox One -- if you sign into your own gamer profile on your friend's Xbone, your games are available for play / download. Up to 10 members of your family / friends will be able to log in and play games from your shared game library. Microsoft says: "Just like today, a family member can play your copy of Forza Motorsport at a friend’s house. Only now, they will see not just Forza, but all of your shared games.  You can lways play your games, and any one of your family members can be playing from your shared library at a given time."



This doesn't mean 10 different players can play games from your library at the same time, but it does mean someone could play Forza while someone else plays Gears of War.Here's everything else.

Used Games
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... Xbox One is designed so game publishers can enable you to give your disc-based games to your friends. There are no fees charged as part of these transfers. There are two requirements: you can only give them to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days and each game can only be given once.

Third party publishers may opt in or out of supporting game resale and may set up business terms or transfer fees with retailers... In addition, third party publishers can enable you to give games to friends. Loaning or renting games won’t be available at launch, but we are exploring the possibilities with our partners.[Emphasis Added]
We're going to defer comment on this until we've finished the breakdown.

Privacy:

Users will be able to control how Kinect responds to certain actions, including whether the system is "listening" for the 'Xbox On' command when turned off. Microsoft notes that you'll need to turn Kinect back on to use the console, but that's fine. The question of whether or not users can turn Kinect off has been answered -- yes, you can. Furthermore, other modes of using the Xbone (remote controls, the Xbox controller) will still function when Kinect is off. Microsoft notes that you'll have a degree of control over how your data is used, though in practice, this is questionable. Most Windows 8 apps contain notifications on how your data is collected, but offer zero control (beyond uninstalling the application) of whether you agree to that collection or not.

Still, the biggest question has been answered. You can turn Kinect off when not gaming.

24 Hour Check-Ins Required:

Strip away the marketing babble on the "Connectivity" page and here's what's left:  The system ships with a gigabit Ethernet port and 802.11n. Specific reference is made to the 5GHz band and dual-band antennas, which means overall coverage and performance should be superior. 802.11ac isn't supported and you'll need a dual-band 802.11n router to see a benefit from these capabilities, but dual-band support is a good thing. MS recommends a minimal 1.5MBps download speed, which is well within US averages. It states that where Internet is not available, players can connect using mobile broadband. An Xbone that can tether would be interesting, provided that the console has a "Use minimal bandwidth" flag to prevent it from blowing your download limit on cellular data connections.

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.
Our Verdict:

Family gaming sounds great. Kinect's privacy options and the ability to turn the camera off will go a long way to soothing user fears. Dual-band 802.11n bandwidth support is solid. 1.5MBps for an always-on connection is low enough to be accessible to most consumers, even if a 24-hour window is far too low, in our opinion. Active military personnel, for example, are actively screwed by this kind of policy. Still, there aren't enough of those to drive MS sales decisions.

But the used game situation? Boy, did we call this.

The entire section of the site reads like Microsoft frantically bending over to ensure customers that it isn't making any money off publisher restrictions. And it isn't. What Microsoft is doing is yielding to the frantic yammering of an industry that sees costs skyrocketing and refuses to engage in the kind of restructuring that will actually save video game development. Kotaku had an excellent write-up on why the video game industry, as a whole, is in such dire straits right now -- a few billion dollars in Gamestop sales, taken and distributed amongst the players, will do precisely nothing to solve the problems.

Why didn't Microsoft stand up and talk about this website? Because while some of the details are good, the overarching picture for gamers is nothing but bad. No loans on launch day. No rentals on launch day. That means none of the publishers working on launch day titles are willing to approve of either. And think about this for a moment -- as of right now, you cannot buy a game, uninstall a game, and give that game to a friend unless given permission to do so.

This has just become Sony's race to win, and I mean that. If Sony reveals a console with similar limitations, it'll put both companies on equally terrible footing. If it doesn't, it could score serious sales from gamers unwilling to agree to these restrictions.
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Chondro replied on Thu, Jun 6 2013 8:33 PM

wow, Microsoft better pull their heads out. i'm leaning more towards the ps4 this gemeration

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Joel H replied on Thu, Jun 6 2013 8:43 PM

PS4 could turn out just as bad. Hopefully not.

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Microsoft is not selling this machine to NEW customers, They are selling this machine to their Millions of Xbox Live gold customers, this is obvious by the online check in requirement. Those who already are XBL Gold subscribers have already proven that they have pretty reliable connections and that they are pretty tollerent to the need to connect to MS servers to access services that they could actually access for free on any of their other connected devices. MS logs the activity on their networks for reliability and to determine how many machines are actually online which is how they can gauge the amount of new servers they need to provide the services for the XB1 and XB360. If they were actively going after new customers then there would be no online check in requirement or crazy rules to trade /lend /sell games. If MS was smart they would allow you to lend / trade games with friends the way the nook allows you to trade ebooks with friends and selling them should be just as easy hell Gamestop could have a "Channel on xbl to sell / trade your games, once done with the transaction you just turn in your disc to the nearest store or they send you a "netflix type" envelope and you ship the game back problem solved. All of this could make life easy as pie for a new customer but nope MS isnt looking for you new guy, they just want the already confirmed revenue stream that they believe they have secured through the people who stuck with them throughout the last generation that also have xblgold. Those people should actually have a reduced price machine given all they paid in XBL dues over the past 8 yrs. Oh and as a active duty Marine I can say that this machine will suck when it comes to deployments, but when do U.S. tech companies give a rats ass about the Military ? Oh thats right they dont we dont buy enough of their products to make a mark in their spreadsheets. Oh well Looks like Sony is gonna finally find a place in my house. That is unless they follow the same route. In which case Ill stick to the systems I already own. Which seems to be the way most people will likely go anyway and the reason MS is going to continue to support XB360 for at least another 2-3yrs.

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Atticus14 replied on Thu, Jun 6 2013 11:58 PM

Sadly the PS4 is probably going to be near identical, these limitations are usually pushed by the big publishers and developers and the console makers have no choice but to keep them happy, you can bet Activision, EA and other big guns wanted this and neither console wants to risk losing their games.

Older consumers will complain for awhile but the younger generation will grow accustomed to it and never know the difference.

And by next gen this "family sharing" will be the great evil that must be done away with.

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cyanLite replied on Fri, Jun 7 2013 12:11 AM

If PS4 simply eliminates these controversial limitations then their sales should skyrocket. It would take an epic screw up on Sony's side to lose this generation of console wars. But I wouldn't put it past them...

If PS4 comes out with similar restrictions, is there another alternative? PC Gaming?

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"This has just become Sony's race to win"

Actually Sony is a player on the same stage, and it's not console sales that brings the cash in and it is not them making the rules. "Content is king" they said and so it is. It is all about IP and copyrights and we can have a similar discussion about music or movies, ebooks.

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sevags replied on Fri, Jun 7 2013 10:15 AM

Good. I'm glad. I hope ps4 jumps on board with these ridiculous restrictions and the world can return to PC gaming.

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