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Major Shift in Xbox One Policies

The consumer has been heard.

It looks like the overwhelming internet consensus has won the battle with Microsoft’s controversial policies for its Xbox One. Just a couple of weeks after releasing somewhat vague details about the upcoming console’s used game, game sharing, and connectivity restrictions, Microsoft has essentially negated every last bit of its planned policies. Is this a big win for gamers and their hobby, a speed bump on the road to the inevitable, or a big step backward from a glorious future of digital game sharing?

The best answer at this point is that we don’t know what this will mean a few years from now. Certainly, most gaming communities seemed to prefer sticking with the status quo – allowing used games without restriction, allowing trading and renting of physical discs, and allowing games to be played without an internet connection. Sony fed these desires and received huge applause (and pre-orders) by announcing it would be keeping the same policies that the PS3 uses on its new PS4. This fact and the outcry from many corners of the internet apparently had enough of an impact to force Microsoft to change course and return to the rules we’re used to. The only exception is that the Xbox One must be initialized online prior to use, but can be used thereafter without an internet connection – not unlike the way iPads were issued until recently.

As more and more games are purchased online, squabbles over the ability to share, sell, and rent games on discs will fade away, and it’s possible the community will look back on the promises of sharing games with ten “family” members and regret their weeks-long rancor toward the Xbox One. Gamers may also miss the promised ability to log on to your own Xbox Live account on any console and play games that you own. Perhaps, when the time is right Microsoft will resume those initial plans for downloaded titles (as Steam appears to be doing) and we’ll have the best of the Microsoft and community visions.

The other major talking point that Xbox One detractors fall back on is the requirement to have the Kinect system attached and powered on to use the system. There has been no change to this policy, and it is probably less likely to change since it is certain to be tied into the guts of the system a bit more than the game sharing codes. There has been a significant amount of legitimate concern over the camera and microphone being necessary amongst military personnel and others who won’t be allowed to use it due to security requirements, but even that might not be enough to motivate a shift in policies like we saw today.

Regardless of how the Kinect “issue” turns out, the turnabout from the Xbox team today can definitely be seen as a big win for the voice of the consumer. In a world where Steve Jobs wannabes declare that users don’t know what they want, it’s nice to see that a collective complaint can still be heard. Whether this ends up being the best outcome for users, Microsoft, and the medium is a complete unknown until the system is released and we can see how everything shakes out. 



Our Take

Nick DiMola Director

06/20/2013 at 06:28 AM

Glad to hear that Microsoft did an about-face on this one. I feel like they had to be backed into a corner to do it though, so you know absolutely none of their actions are genuine to their true intentions.

I still think that the Kinect requirements are a mistake and it's likely what's driving up the cost of the system to $500. I don't care to have that piece of machinery running at all times in my house and while I'm ecstatic that consumer rights are being preserved, this is still not a system for me.

I might put an Xbox One on my shelf years from now for collection purposes, but it'll be used and it'll be purchased at a point where game prices on the system have fallen through the floor. I don't intend on feeding Microsoft any business, because I feel like they're still poised to execute their plans at a later point in the system's life cycle.

I just hope that gamers don't forget the spectacle that happened with this system and will continue to fight tooth and nail to maintain our consumer rights. The original vision of the Xbox One is the inevitable future if we don't continue to hold steadfast to our ideals.


06/20/2013 at 07:47 AM

Digital games are bad for console owners.  There are too many restrictions on consoles as it is.  Consoles have limited hd space and the hds are more expensive.  The worse thing is, you can't play your digital games on the next console.  MS didn't support digital content from the XB to the 360 and they are not supporting it from the 360 to XBO.  Sony is not supporting digital content from the PS3 to the PS4.  The console gamer is losing out.  It's not like on PCs where I can get bigger hds, have an online account still supported when I upgrade to my next pc, and the ability to configure my PC to play my older games.  Consoles are not PCs and XBL & PSN are not on the same level as Steam.  If these publishers and developers want to go digital, then drop the console and do it on the PC.  

Chris Yarger Community Manager

06/20/2013 at 08:56 AM

Was it the consumers that was heard by Microsoft, or did they hear their stocks falling first?

To me, this was just a way to get off the ropes Sony had them on. PS4 had the X1 backed so far into a corner, this was the only logical way to salvage themselves. I still don't trust them though....


06/20/2013 at 09:23 AM

I feel like an idiot saying this, but I think that they made the wrong changes.  

Julian Titus Senior Editor

06/20/2013 at 09:54 AM

No, you're right. There were advantages to the things they were trying to do with the XBO. They weren't advantages for someone like me that values collecting games, but what MS should have done was hammer home the benefits to what they were doing with the online stuff instead of backpedaling. It smacks of desperation and a lack of confidence in their business model.

Really, all they needed to do was let people choose if they wanted the system online or not. If you have the game installed to the HD, you need to be online to play it. If not, you need the disc. Easy fix.


06/20/2013 at 10:02 AM

I think that the family share, was a really cool feature.  I would rather let my brothers borrow my games, but still be able to play them at the same time.  That is awesome.  Being able to download your games from wherever you are, to whatever console you want.

I think that dropping the price of games, even a little bit would have made the other problems less of an issue.   


06/21/2013 at 05:25 PM

Yeah, MS had some good ideas. They just have to improve the way they implement those ideas.


06/21/2013 at 06:54 PM

Or be clear about what the actual benefits of their DRM policies are.


06/20/2013 at 10:23 AM

This is fantastic news. I guess it's true that money talks. Perhaps all the PS4 pre-orders made Microsoft think. It makes sense,though. All they had to do was change course. It's not like anything has even been put into play yet. They may salvage a possibly disastrous console launch with this decision.

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

06/20/2013 at 01:15 PM

This is basically what has gone down since E3, with Sony being Bane and M$ being Batman. The theatricality and deception line is particularly relevent. I agree with Yargz, Microsoft heard the sounds of stock plummeting, and that scared them enough to do an about-face. The Kinect is still a deal-breaker for me, and I feel overall they could have adapted GOOD forward-thinking policies that gamers would be onboard with. I see it as a lack of ability to develop an innovative and logical model on Microsoft's part.

Jamie Alston Staff Writer

06/25/2013 at 08:41 AM

Looks like Microsoft knew that deep down...they were hoping that gamers would just lie down and take it. Nope, not going to happen.

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