Microsoft came into E3, apparently believing they would wow the socks off the gaming public by revealing loads of cool games and giving the world a closer look at their upcoming Xbox One console. What ended up happening was that they received a painful thrashing from Sony after the competing company revealed a similarly powerful gaming system in the PlayStation 4 that eschewed many of the restrictive policies Microsoft notoriously had attached to the Xbox One. Not only that, but the PS4’s price announcement came in $100 under the Xbox One’s.
It hasn’t been a pleasant time for the Microsoft camp since those reveals, with the PS4 outselling the Xbox One on Amazon in preorders and many a justified meme springing up around statements made by Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment President, Don Mattrick. The Xbox One would require an Internet connection from the console every 24 hours, would tie physical game discs to a specific console (thereby killing the rental and used game markets for the system), and would generally push a bunch of restrictions on an increasingly impatient consumer base without a lot of satisfying justification.
All that reversed today when Microsoft surprisingly reversed their stance on pretty much everything. Many had predicted that the Xbox One would have to loosen its policies in order to compete, but I had remained skeptical until Giant Bomb’s Patrick Klepek got the scoop. Don Mattrick himself confirmed the news on Xbox.com soon thereafter: Nothing you know about the Xbox One is true. Here are the two most significant points from Mattrick’s post:
- 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.
With the good does come some bad. Previously Microsoft had touted a family sharing plan. The Xbox One would tie games to a specific Xbox Live account, and that account in turn could be connected to up to nine other accounts as a “family.” Anyone in that family would be able to share and play the games any other person in the family added into their communal library. With the abolishing of DRM and the return of disc-based requirements, the family sharing plan has gone out the window.
We’re still in the early hours of this unprecedented change, so there surely will be many clarifications and adjustments coming down the pipeline in the coming days and weeks. Both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 are slated for release in November, so there’s still plenty of time for additional flip-flops on either side.
One thing’s for sure, though. This gaming console race just got a lot more interesting.