Microsoft Details Heavy Xbox One Used Game Restrictions


Microsoft has finally updated to detail the online and Kinect requirements for Xbox One, and reveal the company’s plan for controlling used game sales on the next generation system. Sadly, the console is basically the once-a-day internet check-in, used game restricting piece of hardware that many consumers feared it would be.

The backbone for all of Microsoft’s plans for the Xbox One is the console’s internet requirements, which could be a problem for certain consumers. “For an optimal experience,” Microsoft states that you will need a minimum broadband connection of 1.5Mbps. Users not able to achieve that minimum speed with their internet connection will be able to “connect using mobile broadband.”  If mobile is not an option, or you simply don’t want to hook the console up to the internet, Microsoft does not appear to be interested in selling you their next-gen system.

As promised, the console will not require a “persistent connection” to the internet, but your primary console will need to connect once every 24 hours (or “one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library”) to check for system updates and verify all of your game licenses. Additionally, some games will be designed to “take advantage of the cloud,” and those titles will require a persistent connection.

Microsoft has also detailed exactly how games licensing will work, revealing that the system does place some heavy restrictions on used games.

You will be able to share your game library with up to ten members of your family, although they must be logged in and only one of them at a time can play the game.

[Update] Microsoft will allow you and one other “family” member to play a single game from your library at the same time. “Family” has not yet been defined.

Reselling disc-based games is allowed, so long as the publisher of the game has “enabled you to trade in your games at participating retailers.” Microsoft notes that they will not charge a platform fee to retailers, publishers, or consumers to enable the transfer of these games, however, they are leaving the door open for third-party publishers to charge fees or “set up their own business terms.”

At the very least, you can expect Electronic Arts to take full advantage of this system.

Microsoft also revealed that you will be able to “give your disc-based games to your friends,” with a few restrictions. You can only gift (sell) these games to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days (say goodbye to selling games over eBay and Amazon), and each disc can only be transferred one time. As always, this extremely limited system is dependent on approval by the game’s publisher.

Finally, Microsoft has confirmed that the ability to loan or rent games “won’t be available at launch, but [they] are exploring the possibilities with [their] partners.”

As for Kinect, the camera is required to be plugged into the Xbox One console, but “you are in control of what Kinect can see and hear.” Microsoft promises that the entire camera and voice controls can be turned off (although some apps and games may require you to turn Kinect on to operate), and all user data (“videos, photos, facial expressions, heart rate and more”) will not leave your console without your explicit permission.

While all of the Kinect privacy options sound decent, it is worth noting that these details were announced on the exact same day that it was discovered that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been secretly collecting just about every little bit of Microsoft’s user data since 2007. I would suspect that the NSA is completely thrilled about the prospect of an internet enabled Microsoft camera and mic in everyone’s living room.

Finally, Microsoft also released a legal notice stating that the company reserves its right to “change its policies, terms, products and services to reflect modifications and improvements to our services, feedback from customers and our business partners or changes in our business priorities and business models or for other reasons. We may also cease to offer certain services or products for similar reasons.”

Basically, even if there is something that you like about all the Xbox One features described above, they can take it away at any time.

This list of Xbox One limitations on consumer rights has made it crystal clear that the company — and the unnamed third-party publishers who have gone along with, or pushed for, this disgusting plan — have completely lost touch with a significant portion of their customer base. Whether or not this results in a consumer push back remains to be seen, but from my point of view there is no reason to even consider purchasing an Xbox One.