Microsoft’s Xbox One Access Requirements Create an Odd Double Standard

You can watch movies offline indefinitely, but games require 24-hour checkups.

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Microsoft‘s Xbox One will allow you to play games offline for up to 24 hours a pop, says the company in a fresh explainer, but you’ll have to connect to the Internet thereafter or forfeit access. If you’re playing on someone else’s system, that 24-hour window drops to just one hour. Think of it as Microsoft’s Cinderella clause, only instead of a pumpkin, your system turns into a giant black-and-green brick.

That may seem something of a positive concession to players worried Microsoft’s next Xbox would require “always-online” connectivity, if only because it means modem-goofing power surges, your curious cat, your even more curious 10-month-old and whimsical, whimsical fate won’t drive your Xbox One off a gaming cliff. You have time to get it together, Microsoft’s saying in essence, though it’s unclear what the carrot is, and the stick is more like a high-voltage stun gun.

But let’s look closely as the statement, which has some…anomalies. Here’s the salient stuff:

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.

Watching live TV I get, but note that Microsoft’s saying you can also continue to watch physical Blu-ray and DVD movies if you exceed the 24-hour window. Hooray? Sort of. For reasons unknown, Microsoft’s chosen to distinguish between movies and video games, affording the former carte blanche in its puzzling hierarchy of accessibility. So why in the world are movies being accorded different rights than games?

There’s another hypothetical issue: Let’s say you leave your console behind for more than 24 hours, maybe for a weekend trip or a weeklong vacation, and when you return, for whatever reason, your Internet’s not working. If I understand this correctly, you won’t be able to play games on the console until you solve your connectivity issue, which is sort of a double kick in the pants.

What’s more, you’ll never, ever be able to tote your Xbox One with you on vacation if your vacation involves a destination that’s Internet-free — a shame, since some of us still visit such backwoods spots (hey, northern Michigan and northwest Iowa, what can you do). Steam, Valve’s digital gaming service, has a neat way of getting around this by allowing you to “unlock” offline play with games you’ve purchased so long as you logged in, at some point, while connected online (I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Valve’s never imposed a periodic login time limit). Once you switch to offline play, so long as you’ve authenticated while online, you’re good to go.

In short, while I’m not opposed to the idea of an always-online console — the Internet’s more or less the 21st century equivalent of electricity — I’m surprised, given the level of scrutiny and worry here, that Microsoft hasn’t taken a gentler, more transitional approach. That, and it seems odd that the company would decree one connectivity standard for Blu-ray and DVD movies, but a completely different one for games.

10 comments
mikestoolz
mikestoolz

The reasoning behind this while at a glance looks horrendous but I think it is understandable. I think that many reporting about this topic do not fully understand what is happing and may not until they get their own xbox one in their hands.

Main point to focus on is this... Games no longer play off of discs! You insert your game and it loads into your xbox one console, you then take the disc out and can play your library of games loaded onto the console.

Think of it like a Rhapsody all you can eat music subscription. You can load all the music you want onto your device, however the device will have to check in to the service from time to time to make sure your account is still in good standing and you have rights to play the music.

What they are trying to avoid is you loading your game into your console and then saying, I already got this game loaded on my console now I can sell the disc and continue to enjoy the game I have loaded into the xbox one. 24 Hours does seem harsh but I think is fair. Just think about Video Game Rentals, People would be renting the game for 1 day, loading it onto the XBOX ONE, return the rented disc and continue playing the game offline for several days. With 24 hours thats one extra day of gameplay for your rented games as long as you stay offline.


I do have a feeling that if complaints get high enough, microsoft will come out with a software update that allows unlimited offline gameplay time as long as the disc is inserted into the console. The xbox would continue playing the game off of the hard drive, but do continuous checks to make sure the original game disc is still inserted in the DVD drive. This is something Microsoft will try to avoid as I'm sure that the modding community would be quick to come up with some DVD drive hacks like they have done to the 360

scottyisgaga
scottyisgaga

just don't buy it. SIMPLE. I'm going to garden and do something that doesn't require the internet. :)

jimmackdaddy
jimmackdaddy

Wow, this is retarded micro$oft...so I can only allow my friend to borrow MY GAME that I paid $60: if my friend has xbox live account and one time per disc?

So my future xbox friend needs:
1. internet access.
2. to give up their personal information to set up an microsoft billing account, just to have xbla, just to play my game that I paid $60 for, is that right?

So in Microsoft's world, there is no such thing as "buying a game" but leasing a game, since there are rules to prevent me from doing what I want with that game that goes way beyond copyright law or the first sale doctrine, right?

So how long can my friend borrow my game that I brought ooops,  leased $60 for?

Will I be able to rent a game from my local video store?

what about the kinect privacy issues?

Sorry but xbox one sounds more like windows 8 everyday.

AdamCarter
AdamCarter

It's not even borrowing. You must give them the game. There will be no borrowing at the launch of Xbox One.

JeanGray96
JeanGray96

Sucks rocks for our servicemembers on deployment. Ships and remote camps (such as in Afghanistan) don't have internet. Heck even barracks in some overseas locations don't have wifi or wired internet unless you pay for the service through the local utility (which might not allow someone to sign up for only a month or two). And for those who get stationed overseas, how would this work? We were able to log in to our XBox Live account while in Germany, but how would this work with the various regions in the world? Would it be tied to the console or tied to the internet connection? Something tells me public backlash may cause a rethinking of this or people could defect en masse to the new PlayStation since old XBox games won't work on the One anyway.

kuusouyume
kuusouyume like.author.displayName 1 Like

I'm worried that if games are tied to a console as well as account, what happens if the console breaks? Or if you have two at home?

MackenzeeHemming
MackenzeeHemming

@kuusouyume its gamertag not console.  your games are basically saved in cloud and accessed from anywhere.  still annoyed about the online thing but i personally wont have to worry about that and the access to my library from anywhere makes it easy for me to play at my friends house :p no more will i bring my harddrive and 20 games

kuusouyume
kuusouyume

Because consoles never break:

So if they have a RRoD fiasco with the Xbone, all our games won't work more than an hour?

Awesome.