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Microsoft finally detailed a lot of the questions surrounding their new console this evening, and while it doesn’t answer everyone’s questions, and even raises a few new ones, they still actually did a decent job of putting to rest some rumors, while confirming some other ones in the process.
However, let’s break it down:
While a persistent connection is not required, Xbox One is designed to verify if system, application or game updates are needed and to see if you have acquired new games, or resold, traded in, or given your game to a friend. Games that are designed to take advantage of the cloud may require a connection.
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.
Access your entire games library from any Xbox One—no discs required: After signing in and installing, you can play any of your games from any Xbox One because a digital copy of your game is stored on your console and in the cloud. So, for example, while you are logged in at your friend’s house, you can play your games. Buy the way you want—disc or digital—on the same day: You’ll be able to buy disc-based games at traditional retailers or online through Xbox Live, on day of release. Discs will continue to be a great way to install your games quickly.
Share access to your games with everyone inside your home: Your friends and family, your guests and acquaintances get unlimited access to all of your games. Anyone can play your games on your console–regardless of whether you are logged in or their relationship to you.
Trade-in and resell your disc-based games: Today, some gamers choose to sell their old disc-based games back for cash and credit. 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.
Give your family access to your entire games library anytime, anywhere:Xbox One will enable new forms of access for families. Up to ten members of your family can log in and play from your shared games library on any Xbox One. 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 always play your games, and any one of your family members can be playing from your shared library at a given time.
In our role as a game publisher, Microsoft Studios will enable you to give your games to friends or trade in your Xbox One games at participating retailers. Third party publishers may opt in or out of supporting game resale and may set up business terms or transfer fees with retailers. Microsoft does not receive any compensation as part of this. 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.
Give your games to friends: 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.
You are in control of what Kinect can see and hear: By design, you will determine how responsive and personalized your Xbox One is to you and your family during setup. The system will navigate you through key privacy options, like automatic or manual sign in, privacy settings, and clear notifications about how data is used. When Xbox One is on and you’re simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded.
You are in control of when Kinect sensing is On, Off or Paused: If you don’t want the Kinect sensor on while playing games or enjoying your entertainment, you can pause Kinect. To turn off your Xbox One, just say “Xbox Off.” When the system is off, it’s only listening for the single voice command — “Xbox On,” and you can even turn that feature off too. Some apps and games may require Kinect functionality to operate, so you’ll need to turn it back on for these experiences.
You are in control of your personal data: You can play games or enjoy applications that use data, such as videos, photos, facial expressions, heart rate and more, but this data will not leave your Xbox One without your explicit permission. Here are a few examples of potential future scenarios:
A fitness game could measure heart rate data to provide you with improved feedback on your workout, allow you to track your progress, or even measure calories burned.
A card game could allow you to bluff your virtual opponent using your facial expressions.
Wow, that’s a lot of information.
While it does explain exactly how this DRM is going to potentially affect the used game’s industry (it really isn’t), what it does confirm is that games will essentially be tied to your Xbox Live profile. Basically, don’t buy this system if you aren’t planning on playing on an internet connection.
You could call Microsoft ballsy for going this direction, but considering we live in 2013, in an always online world, this doesn’t really bother me personally. I’m more then happy to have my entire gaming collection at my fingertips on my console at all times, even happier that I can go to a friend’s house and load up that collection on his Xbox One, under my profile of course.
The loaning game’s thing is fine to me honestly, because I personally really don’t loan out a game, and when I do it is usually just to one other person. That whole aspect doesn’t bother me.
But this whole thing does raise a new question: what’s to say I don’t add ten of my friends to my “family list” on my Xbox console, giving them access to my entire game library and vice versa. That seems foolish by Microsoft standards, but they could easily clarify that by keeping it on the same ISP.
I understand the need to have to check for a net connection every 24 hours, and it makes sense to me. Honestly, I’m not surprised that this is the direction that Microsoft is taking. While they certainly are taking a lot of scrutiny for their DRM policies, it totally makes sense to me. This is still a better set up then say, Steam, because you will be able to trade games in and get money back.
It will be interesting to see what Sony finally unveils. Will they continue to be the “white knight” to a lot of gamers, or will the follow the same pattern with DRM as Microsoft? I honestly can’t see a situation in which one major system company has DRM and one doesn’t, so I would imagine if one person is doing it, they both will do it. It sucks right now that Microsoft is taking all of the backlash from gamers, but I applaud them for coming out in the open about their policies before Sony does. It might be painful to gamers right now, but come this time next week, after E3, I think you will see a similar stance from both sides.
Of course this is speculation of my own, but who knows what will happen. All I can say is that I’m not as crushed about what Microsoft is doing as I initially was, and I am actually looking forward to Xbox One.