It appears the scary rumors about the Xbox One and used video games are true: there will be severe restrictions on how gamers play used titles when the new console is released later this year. Worse still: gamers will need to be online, most of the time.
In an announcement on Thursday, Microsoft said it will carefully oversee all game transactions. If gamers want to give an Xbox One game to someone else, they will need to have been that person’s Xbox Live ‘friend’ for one month.
Furthermore, the ownership of a game can only be transferred once.
Microsoft is also giving third-party publishers, such as Electronic Arts, the right to completely block any re-selling of their games. You can bet many companies (and especially EA) will take Microsoft up on that offer.
It’s not all bad news, however. Xbox One players will also be able to upload an entire game to their Xbox Live accounts. This means that if they sign into their account on a completely different Xbox One system, they can still play the game — disc or not.
Microsoft also says up to ten people can be granted access to your library of Xbox One games.
“Up to ten members of your family can log in and play from your shared games library on any Xbox One,” Microsoft said on its website.
“Just like today, a family member can play your copy of Forza Motorsport at a friend’s house. Only now, they will see not just Forza, but all of your shared games. You can always play your games, and any one of your family members can be playing from your shared library at a given time.”
Microsoft has also clarified the “always online” situation. The firm says gamers will be able to disconnect from the Internet for a period of up to 24 hours.
“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,” Microsoft said.
“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.”
There’s no doubt many gamers will be frustrated and angry with much of this information. The used games industry is enormous and allows many budget-minded gamers to enjoy titles they wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to play.
Microsoft also looks to be seriously out of touch when it comes to the “always online” requirement. Even in the densest North American urban environments, it’s possible to lose an Internet connection for days on end. Why should these people, or people in rural areas (where a web connection can be spotty), be punished?
As someone who owns a PlayStation 3 and an Xbox 360, I’m eager to hear more from Sony on these same important topics. Surely, I’m not alone.