In a shock announcement following criticism from the press and the public Microsoft has retracted two controversial policies for the Xbox One. The console will no longer need to connect to the internet once every 24 hours and gamers will now be allowed to share, resell and lend their games freely.
The news came from a blog post on the Xbox One’s official website signed by Don Mattrick, the President of Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft.
“Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback, “ said Mattrick. “I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One. “
Mattrick went on to detail the policy changes, saying that with regards to offline play, “after a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again” and clarifying that with regards to restrictions on sharing games: “There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.”
The announcement of the changes surprised many, with PCWorld describing the reaction on the internet as “largely euphoric”, with the Facebook message announcing the changes gaining over 75,000 likes in three hours.
Criticism against the Xbox One for its original restrictions on game sharing and its need to connect to the internet came not only from the public and the press, but also from Microsoft’s rivals. The unveiling of the PS4 by Sony at E3 even included a 22-second spoof video entitled “Official PlayStation Used Games Instructional Video” showing two Sony employees simply handing a game from one to the other.
However, the changes announced by Microsoft have also meant cutting some features from the new console. Speaking to Kotaku, Marc Whitten – the vice president of Xbox Live – stated that “There’s a few things we won’t be able to deliver as a result of this change.”
"One of the things we were very excited about was 'wherever we go my games are always with me.' Now, of course, your physical games won’t show up that way. The content you bought digitally will. But you’ll have to bring your discs with you to have your games with you. Similarly, the sharing library [is something] we won’t be able to deliver at launch."
The ‘sharing library’ was Microsoft’s concept that allowed games to be shared with up to ten members of your ‘family’ – essentially anyone you might have been living with.
Whitten also confirmed another change, abolishing the Xbox One’s proposed region locking: "You could buy a console in any country and use it any country," said Whitte. "You can use any disc in that console."
Whittle also clarified the future for Xbox One’s digital policy in an interview with gaming website Polygon, saying that "While we are adding in the ability to use physical discs, we still believe in the power of a digital and cloud-powered future played out at launch and rolled out over time. You are going to see us invest a ton in all of the ways digital builds experiences."