Ardent Fans Lobby Microsoft For Return of Xbox One Family Share and Digital Distribution Features

When Microsoft announced that it was canceling the much-hated always-on Xbox One requirements, a collective cheer went up from the Internet -- and also, a collective grumble. A number of players were ready to get rid of physical discs altogether, looked forward to the Family Share features that Microsoft had promised, and generally wanted a console that would move forward into digital distribution, even if it came at the cost of giving up privileges today.

Those fans have put together a petition calling for Microsoft to add back the features that it removed from the console. The petition is short and to the point, reading:
This was to be the future of entertainment. A new wave of gaming where you could buy games digitally, then trade, share or sell those digital licenses. Essentially, it was Steam for Xbox. But consumers were uninformed, and railed against it, and it was taken away because Sony took advantage of consumers uncertainty.

We want this back. It can't be all or nothing, there must be a compromise.
Why Compromise is Necessary

Microsoft still seems to be badly confused as to what gamers actually want. As someone who railed against many of the Xbone's original policies but who also supports this petition, let me offer my take:  What I want is a console that supports both digital distribution and  physical discs. Gamers who buy physical discs would retain all of the conventional capabilities that discs historically allow. They can play games with the disc in the drive and they can sell those discs to GameStop or loan them to a friend. When a game is installed from a disc, it sets an "Installation_Method" flag on the Xbox console, to tell the device that it is disc-based. If I then sell the game, my achievements remain logged in my library, but I can't play without the physical medium.

"Sad Don Mattrick" deserves to be a meme. Look at that face

Gamers who buy a game digitally gain the rights Microsoft originally promised. Want to loan that game to a friend via Family Sharing? No problem. Your console has to check in every 24 hours, while their console checks back hourly, but you aren't penalized otherwise. Personally, I think Microsoft should offer a longer offline period for digital games as well -- 72 hours is more reasonable -- but the point is, buying the digital version gets you lending rights that you wouldn't otherwise have.

No, you can't resell a game, but you can loan it to other people and install it to multiple consoles if you wish. Instead of being a stick, always-online becomes a carrot -- a great way to share products with friends should you choose to do so.

That's what people want, Microsoft. We want a feature for the Xbox One that even Steam lacks. We want the ability to use either media type as "equal partners." We want a console that doesn't discriminate against players with intermittent connections (or no connections) but doesn't take the Xbox One's best features away to compensate for giving these players a product they can buy.

No one disliked the Xbox One for taking chances. What people hated was the way the Xbox One unilaterally shoved everyone into a one-size-fits all distribution model with no regard for varying desires or expectations. A digital distribution center that leaves offline play as a valid option would be a all-upside.

Compromise. It's not that hard. Please?