Xbox One Gaming Rules Readjusted
June 20, 2013

Microsoft Readjusts Xbox One Gaming Rules Following Consumer Outcry

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Shortly after announcing their brand new Xbox One console, Microsoft set out to clarify a few guidelines about who could share physical games and for what reason. Following a massive online outcry by ardent gamers, Microsoft has backpedaled on some of their earlier clarifications, and will now allow Xbox One owners to share physical discs.

Microsoft also had to do an about-face on an earlier decision to have the consoles check into their servers once every 24 hours. This move was seen as a way to police their anti-sharing guidelines, and in previous policy statements, Microsoft said users would not be able to play games on their consoles if they had not been connected to the Internet within a 24 hour window.

“An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games," writes Don Mattrick, Xbox's president of Interactive Entertainment Business in an apologetic blog post.

“After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360."

Mattrick also mentions his company reversal on game sharing and says that, just as it´s been with the popular Xbox 360, gamers can trade-in, lend, resell, gift or rent their games without restriction.

Though the Xbox One does support physical media, much of its benefits are found in the cloud, like accessing purchased games from other consoles or allowing up to ten friends and family members to share digital games. An added benefit to cloud-based gaming is backup. Xbox One users who buy a physical copy of a game can have this title pushed to the cloud. Once it's loaded there, they can either play it with an Internet connection or from the disk, and if something happens to their physical copy, they still have it on the cloud. Microsoft's earlier policy gave the power of digital rights management (DRM) to the game developers. Though they claimed to have provided the developers with the tools necessary to allow gamers to trade-in or share their games, the final decision was in the hands of companies like Activision and EA.

Further tightening the DRM restrictions, Microsoft stated earlier that gamers could give their physical titles away to a friend if they felt so inclined — but with one catch. Microsoft defined “friend" as a person who has been in a gamer's friend list for more than 30 days. If this transaction was approved by both parties (the giver and the receiver), then ownership of the game could be transferred, but only once. Games gifted could not be re-gifted again under Microsoft's old policy.

While the decision to allow Xbox One to work as a gaming console without an Internet connection is welcome, it came with a trade off.

“These changes will impact some of the scenarios we previously announced for Xbox One," writes Mattrick.

“The sharing of games will work as it does today, you will simply share the disc. Downloaded titles cannot be shared or resold. Also, similar to today, playing disc based games will require that the disc be in the tray."

In other words, Microsoft´s cloud-based family game sharing plan has been scrapped. Now, the only way to share a game is to lend a friend or family member a physical piece of plastic.