The Xbox One had a rocky road to launch. From its first announcement, it was beset by protests against its perhaps justly perceived overreaching DRM constraints. Most gamers didn’t like the notion that they would no longer be able to rent or share video games, and other issues such as potential always-online requirements helped stir the pot. In the face of enormous backlash, Microsoft did some backpedaling and completely revamped their vision of the new gaming generation, just months away from the Xbox One’s release.
One widely praised feature that Microsoft dropped in the midst of their redirecting was the concept of “family sharing.” That is, a gamer would be able to specify a set number of additional Xbox Live accounts as being within the same “family.” Once the family was defined, any games registered into ownership by one member of the family would be downloadable and playable by all other members of the family as well. The exact details of how all of this would work never got nailed down in a public and definitive sense, because family sharing rose and fell rather quickly in the midst of the Xbox One’s DRM reversal.
In the time since the console’s launch, Xbox’s old guard has moved on to other companies, and Phil Spencer has stepped in to lead the brand. Spencer’s public statements and descriptions of his company vision have been much more gamer- and consumer-centered than were those of his predecessor, Don Mattrick. In keeping with the tone he’s set, Spencer sat down with Gamertag Radio for an interview, in which he mentioned that the notion of family sharing just might be coming back into the Xbox One’s future. Says Spencer:
“We looked at the digital features that we had talked about last year and as a gamer, there were a lot of those features that I think really resonated and were smart features for people who really have a lot of games and maybe play on a couple consoles or have bunch of people in the house or want to share with friends… As I look at our monthly update roadmap, those kind of features are in our roadmap. There is a little bit of a challenge now that you’ve got DRM on a disc.”
Challenge or not, Phil Spencer has revived a lot of talk and excitement for folks who had all but given up on the possibility of the sharing plan. Would you like to see family sharing come into the Xbox One’s feature set? How do you think something like this should work, and would you use it yourself?