The Xbox One-Eighty: Microsoft Drops Online Requirements, Used Game Restrictions, and Kills Family Sharing

Ever since Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One in May, the user community has raised holy hell about the 24-hour mandatory online check in, the loss of used game sales, and the onerous online requirements that prohibited game or console imports into countries where the Xbox One service hasn't officially launched. Microsoft's entire E3 demo was buried thanks to a $499 price tag and a crushing video from Sony. Throwing military users under a bus by insisting they just buy an Xbox 360 was apparently the final straw.

Today, Microsoft threw in the towel. The Xbox One will not require a 24-hour check in. It won't require an online check-in or verification system at all. Here's Don Mattrick with the details:

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.
The Downside

There are two features going away as a result of this change. One, you'll still need to have the disc in the tray when you play a game you bought on-disc. That's a bit annoying, but not a big deal. More frustrating is the fact that the family sharing plan Microsoft had previously announced is also going away. According to the company, you'll no longer be able to share digital purchases with friends.

That's unfortunate, and ultimately unnecessary. The entire problem with the Xbox one's approach to being online is that the company took an all-or-nothing stance. There's no reason not to offer customers the option to validate online every 24 hours and, in return, be allowed to loan out purchased digital content to other friends. Microsoft has stressed that digital purchases can't be resold, so there's no reason to restrict them in this fashion.

I'm sad to see family sharing go because it was one of the only exciting features the Xbone offered. Killing it now, in the name of allowing offline play is disingenuous; it suggests that there was never any way to create an opt-in system for this kind of sharing. There is, of course -- Microsoft just didn't bother to do it.

Still, on the whole, this is great news. It's an unprecedented move for a company that, until yesterday, was doubling down on every mistake Sony ever made with the PlayStation 3. This doesn't solve all the Xbox One's problems -- you're still stuck buying a Kinect, paying an extra $100, and buying the dubious proposition that cloud computing is going to allow the console to deliver a superior experience to the PS3 -- but it removes the restrictions that kept those with poor Internet or in the military from joining the fun.

Microsoft is to be commended for actually listening to customers and responding to the situation, rather than continuing to trudge loudly towards oblivion. Patching the problem will require a Day One patch -- anyone who buys an Xbox off the shelf will still need Internet to actually apply these changes.