Microsoft Changes Its Mind on Xbox One’s Used Games and Always-Online Policies

Microsoft has backtracked on how the Xbox One will handle used games and offline play, following weeks of backlash.

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Microsoft has backtracked on how the Xbox One will handle used games and offline play, following weeks of backlash.

An update on Microsoft’s news site lists the following changes:

  • Xbox One games will not require an Internet connection every 24 hours just to play offline.
  • A one-time Internet connection will be required during system set-up, but that’s it.
  • Games on disc may be lent, resold, given away and rented, just as Xbox 360 discs are today.
  • Downloaded games will work without an Internet connection.
  • There will be no regional restrictions.

The story was first reported by Patrick Klepek, a well-connected reporter at Giant Bomb. A post by Don Mattrick, President of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business confirmed the news shortly after.

“While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content,” Mattrick wrote. “We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds.”

Mattrick did say that some of the features Microsoft had announced for the Xbox One will have to be taken away:

  • Games on disc will have to be in the tray to play them. Previously, Microsoft had said that games on disc would install automatically, at which point the disc would not be necessary.
  • Users will not be able to share downloaded games with each other. Under the original plan, users would be able to pick any nine people to share their game libraries with. This would have allowed two people on separate consoles to play a single copy of the game together.

As I’ve written before, Microsoft was trying to accelerate the demise of the disc┬áby effectively making the physical copy worthless. This would have provided a couple of benefits, as listed above, and it would have given Microsoft greater control over its own games market and pricing.

But it also would have taken power away from consumers to lend, trade, sell and keep games for as long as they pleased, without being bound to Microsoft’s whims and servers. The fact that Sony didn’t adopt any sweeping policy changes on the PlayStation 4 only made Microsoft’s policies seem more draconian. The Xbox One’s approach required users to trade ownership rights for convenience (at least for those with a steady Internet connection), and it was a trade-off many users were not willing to make.

Now, what are the odds Microsoft will stop requiring Kinect and lop $100 off the price?