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Microsoft pulls big 180 with Xbox One DRM policy reversal

After much pressure, Microsoft has revised its previously-announced DRM, preowned game usage and online check-in policies for Xbox One.

June 19, 2013

4 Min Read

After much pressure, Microsoft has revised its previously-announced DRM, preowned game usage and online check-in policies for Xbox One, confirming a prior report. It's one of the biggest reversals in the history of game consoles, and changes the dynamic of the next-gen console race with Sony and Nintendo. Microsoft had previously been touting the merits of an always-online game console, but after intense backlash from consumers who didn't appreciate the limitations of the strategy, the company has listened, and removed the most controversial restrictions.

Key Points:

- There will no internet connection required to play offline Xbox One games "after a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One" - There will be no 24-hour connection requirement for the console - Used game sales and borrowing of games will have no limitations - No regional restrictions

Microsoft's official statement

Microsoft's Don Mattrick explained it all in a statement today:

Last week at E3, the excitement, creativity and future of our industry was on display for a global audience. For us, the future comes in the form of Xbox One, a system designed to be the best place to play games this year and for many years to come. As is our heritage with Xbox, we designed a system that could take full advantage of advances in technology in order to deliver a breakthrough in game play and entertainment. We imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing, and new ways to try and buy games. We believe in the benefits of a connected, digital future. 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. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One. You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world. So, today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. Here is what that means: An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – 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. Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360. In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console -- there will be no regional restrictions. These changes will impact some of the scenarios we previously announced for Xbox One. 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. We appreciate your passion, support and willingness to challenge the assumptions of digital licensing and connectivity. While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content. We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds. Thank you again for your candid feedback. Our team remains committed to listening, taking feedback and delivering a great product for you later this year.

Vice President of Xbox Live Marc Whitten tells Kotaku that the changes will come at a price, including a day-one patch and some lost features:

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. [However] the games you bought digitally will. ...Similarly, the sharing library [is something] we won't be able to deliver at launch.

Because Microsoft did not anticipate making such drastic reversals to its policies, Kotaku reports that the revisions will involve a day-one download patch to enable the new offline mode.

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