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Microsoft Comes Clean on Xbox One DRM, Used Game Restrictions

Posted by: , 15:30 AEST, Fri June 7, 2013

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Microsoft finally releases the details about changes to game licensing, authentication, used games and Kinect privacy
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Following a huge public backlash, Microsoft has for the first time gone into detail regarding the most controversial aspects of their upcoming Xbox One console.

A post on the official Xbox blog, Xbox Wire, goes into the three main areas where gamers have expressed their discontent: game licensing, online activations and privacy.

The issue of game licensing and used game restrictions has been the most talked about aspect of the Xbox One, much to Microsoft's chagrin. Microsoft has decided to take a vastly different approach to the status quo in this area, which is why gamers have been so upset.

It has already been confirmed that Microsoft will move from a disc based licensing system to a digital one. The advantage of this is that you no longer need your game disc in order to play games, and that you can share you game library on multiple Xbox One consoles. It also gives gamer the option to purchase any game on the platform digitally.

Another advantage that Microsoft has only chosen now to reveal is the ability to share you game library with up to 10 family members. Once you set up which family members have access, these family members can play all the games in your library on any Xbox One console, at any time. This has not been previously possible with disc based games, due to the non digital means of game licensing.

But with disc relegated to just been data carriers, trading and even game gifting is no longer possible just with the disc itself. However, Microsoft is working together with publishers to still make it possible to trade, sell and gift 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.


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.

It appears that Microsoft will let publishers decide whether games can and cannot be traded/sold/gifted, and letting them take the brunt of any potential backlash. For a long time, publishers have been wanting to step in and regulate the second hand gaming market, and it appears Microsoft has given them the tools to do it for the Xbox One.

Microsoft was also keen to stress that they will not receive any compensation for these kinds license transfers.

Moving on to the next controversy, due to the move to digital licensing, disc based authentication is no longer required. But this means that another kind of authentication, online based, will be required. While it falls short of requiring a constant Internet connection in order to keep games working, a controversial requirement of recent PC games such as Diablo III and SimCity, Microsoft has revealed officially that offline gaming is limited to a 24 hour period:

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.

Microsoft also recommends at least a 1.5 Mbps Internet connection.

One of the more paranoid concerns that gamers have expressed is with the always-on nature of the Kinect camera, and how Microsoft may use it to spy on gamers. Microsoft has now also addresses the privacy issues in detail:

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.

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

Just like the current Kinect system, it looks like use of the new Kinect will be strictly optional, even if it is now an integral part of the console.


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